The secret to a successful business is a well-defined marketing strategy.
Many small businesses find themselves preoccupied with reactive marketing activities instead of taking the time to create a long-term strategy for the foundation of all their marketing tactics. This can often cause inconsistent and unsatisfying results. When creating a marketing strategy, it’s important to plan your long-term marketing goals before diving straight in.
So, what are three things small businesses should consider before creating a marketing strategy?
The first question to ask yourself when writing a marketing strategy is: who is your target audience? Who do you want your marketing activities to reach? Who do you want purchasing your products, services or engaging with your brand? If you can answer that, you’re off to a great start. Having this targeted information before devising a strategy is vital, or you run the risk of creating a marketing strategy that won't reach your target audience, and ultimately won’t deliver against your business goals.
Put time into carrying out research into your target market; consider their likes and dislikes and their social media use - it will be worth your while. Carrying out a survey is a simple and fast way for small businesses to find out the habits and behaviours and preferences of their target audience. Google forms is free tool that you can use to create a survey, distribute via social media and email and analyse your results in graphs and charts afterwards and learn about your target audience so you can tailor your marketing efforts to it.
There are a number of marketing tactics you can adopt, from email marketing to product launches to social media marketing. Do you need to focus your efforts on one channel or can you integrate your campaigns? It might not be appropriate to invest your time into lots of channels as a small business, but do focus on the channels that your audience will engage with.
The research that you carried out with your target audience could also be used to find which marketing channels they engage with the most; which social media platform they are most active on or if they prefer to read blogs.
Whether you work in the healthcare industry or the engineering industry, we are living in a digital world so always consider a social element to your campaign strategies. The key to social media marketing is to research into the channels your audience use the most and focus your efforts on one or two; having a presence on multiple platforms but being inactive will lead consumers to believe your business isn't trustworthy.
Before implementing your marketing strategy, you need to consider how you're going to measure successes and results. That way, you can easily see if one of your tactics isn't working well and address the problem early on. To put it simply, if you find that one of your tactics is not increasing traffic or sales then you need to re-think.
Tools such as Google Analytics can support your marketing strategy through tracking your website and social media performance, and monitoring when your target audience are most active online at the same time. You’ll quickly be able to see if your tactics aren’t creating as much as engagement as you would like, or if you need to adapt the time of day you engage with consumers online.
Analytic tools such as the ones Facebook and Twitter have available to users could be more accessible for small businesses as, whilst they are more basic than Google Analytics, they ultimately achieve the same goal.
By Ed Hudson, managing director at Create Health
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