Welcome! We're excited to share this simple 8-step small business marketing plan. It'll help you strategically break down big goals into actionable tactics to market your business effectively. It's motivating and focusing – and you'll no longer have to doubt if you're doing the right things.
We found that about 50% of small businesses never make a marketing plan. It's understandable because chances are you already have a ton on your plate. However, here we're going to show you that you can create an effective marketing strategy that you can use for years to come with a little upfront work.
- Create achievable, measurable goals for growing your business
- Effectively market your business with little or no budget
- Become more strategic and increase your chances of reaching your goals
1. Get the facts to market your business effectively
“I pretty much solely rely on word-of-mouth. Ever since the pandemic, I’ve been completely stuck at gaining new clients and losing current ones, too!” – Jessica
Like most small business owners before the pandemic, Jessica got most customers through word-of-mouth. However, since that's become less effective this past year, she's had to adapt and create a new strategy.
Begin building your plan by collecting the facts. There are 6 essential questions you need to ask:
- What are your company's financials? Don't guess! Review last year's reports and sales figures. If you're an Invoice2go, a Bill.com company, subscriber, you can pull this information right from the app.
- What are all the services you offer? Be sure to include services you can provide but perhaps haven't started selling yet.
- Who are all your competitors? If you're not sure, do some research online. It's essential to know who you're competing with to take steps to stand out.
- What are your geographic boundaries? How far can you go to sell your services?
- Who are your customers? Who are you targeting? We have a business branding mini-course that will help you create a customer profile if you're not sure.
- What are the current trends in your field? Is there new technology or world events that are affecting your business? Could you expand your business.?
Write down your answer to these questions. If you have any doubts, take the time to research. The clearer you are about your business's current state, the easier the next steps will be.
2. Assess your situation
In this second step, we'll look further into your current situation to find opportunities to grow your business. Here's a breakdown of the questions you need to evaluate your current situation:
- What's the current market like for your business? Look over the demographics and income levels for those in your region.
- Is your market crowded with competitors? If you're not sure, do some research on Google. Jessica found that there are many other singing coaches in the Dallas area where she lives.
- Are your services differentiated from your competitors? Do you have a unique value proposition? If not, write it down into a statement. Jessica's statement is: Espiritu Voice Studio provides classical voice training from a world-class operatic performer, teacher, and specialist.
- Do your prices make sense? Pricing your business can be challenging. Research your competitors and take time to find out if you're overpricing or underpricing yourself.
- Historically, how well have your services sold? Which of your services are most popular? Is there a way you can adapt your services now?
- What are your biggest challenges and opportunities right now? What can you do to be in the best position for success? For example, boosting your online presence can make up for a decline in word-of-mouth referrals because of the pandemic.
3. Decide on your objectives
Now that you've thoroughly assessed your business and market, what do you want to accomplish over the next year? Do you want to increase sales? Introduce a new service? Raise your rates without losing customers? Write them down.
For her business, Jessica set 3 main objectives:
- Increase her customer base in 2021.
- Expand virtual coaching to keep her business sustainable.
- Maintain consistent revenue throughout the year.
4. Break your objectives down into goals
After laying out your objectives, to effectively market your business, you're going to break them down into smaller goals.
To meet the objective of increasing her customer base:
- Focus on improving her online presence and making it easier for customers to find her services.
- Boost her efforts to reach out to former students and invite them to resume training.
To expand virtual coaching:
- Look into online platforms that could work for her and her students.
- Set up online scheduling to attract customers from other cities and states.
To keep revenue steady all year long:
- Establish multi-lesson packages.
- Set aside a small budget for paid online ads.
5. List the tactics to accomplish each of your goals
Finally, you're going to break it down one more time and turn your goals into mini marketing projects. Here's how these work in Jessica's situation:
To increase her online presence:
- Make social media profiles and start publishing content weekly.
- Begin sharing singing tips on YouTube.
- Use Google Ads to make her more discoverable for the keyword "voice coach" in her area.
To reconnect with her former students:
- Email them personally with an offer of bulk lessons at a loyalty discount.
To expand virtual coaching and online scheduling:
- Set up Zoom or another popular free service.
- Register with Calendly, a free tool that allows clients from other cities and states to book appointments online.
To create multi-level packages with incentives:
- Establish 5-, 10-, and 20-lesson packs with a tiered discount approach.
- Advertise these packages on her website on social media.
6. Allocate your budget
Now that you've set your objectives, listed your goals, and brainstormed your tactics, it's time to determine how much time and money you can spend. It's important to set aside a specific budget before you execute your plan.
If you're not sure how much to spend on marketing, the US Small Business Association recommends spending 7-8% of your sales revenue. If it's your first year in business, you can spend around 10-12%.
Here are a few ways Jessica plans to spend her time and money to market her business effectively:
- Dedicate 16 hours per month to creating content for social media to boost her online presence.
- Use MailChimp to organize all her client information and spend 2 hours in the next month emailing them her special offer.
- Spend several hours learning how to use Zoom and Calendly.
- Allocate $4,500 per year for paid advertising. (Based on her current revenue, this amount is reasonable.)
7. Set your tracking
There's no way to know if you're making progress toward your goal unless you have a tracking method. Key performance indicators (KPIs) are simple ways to see how well you're doing.
For example, if your goal is to increase your customer base, evaluate how many customers you have now. Then, decide what specific number of new customers you want. In Jessica's case, she plans to track how many new customers she gets from her online presence and how many bookings she gets from emailing former students.
Writing down specific numbers about where you are now and where you want to be will give you more motivation and focus. Also, after you set this up, you can use this same format each year and adapt the numbers as necessary.
8. Write your executive summary
The final step for you is to look back and write a summary of what you want to achieve from your marketing plan. Keep it somewhere you can easily access, review it weekly, and use it to stay accountable.
We hope these 8 steps inspire and show you that you can quickly take action and effectively market your business without a lot of time or money by breaking down big goals.
Have you written up your marketing plan? Share your thoughts and questions in The Female Founders Network community to get support and more helpful tips.