Chances are your business isn’t going to make it.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Business Employment Dynamics, 20% of small businesses fail in their first year, 50% of small businesses fail by their fifth year and 70% fail by their tenth year. Not very good odds.
What is the reason for this? It has to do with a lack of foresight and planning. You started a business you had no doubt would be successful, otherwise why would you have started it, right? Well, then why do so many business owners just think success will “just happen”? I would be willing to bet that almost every one of those failing businesses didn’t have a marketing plan. They were doomed from the beginning.
This article will help you understand what a marketing plan is, how it can benefit your small business, and how to use it to stay on track and achieve your goals.
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Before starting, let’s take a look at what a marketing plan is for those who are unaware or may need a refresher.
A marketing plan is an outline which includes the business and its strategy for getting the word out about its products/services. This includes goals, actions, and completed objectives (once in motion).
The marketing plan is a blueprint for helping run a business and its marketing.
It shows WHAT is being done WHEN, WHERE, HOW and by WHOM. Every successful business has a marketing plan in place because then there is no confusion as to what the priorities are and how they’re going to be achieved.
1) Adds Structure
Could you walk away from your business today knowing that everything that needs to get done will get done? Yeh, didn’t think so.
A marketing plan will help with that. It will create structure so it’s clear what needs to be done. Deadlines won’t get missed. It gives you the ability to plan and be prepared for your marketing instead of “fire, aim shoot”.
With a marketing plan, it’s possible to go back to the drawing board and make appropriate corrections as well as track your metrics to see what’s working and what’s not.
2) Creates Goals to Follow
Marketing cannot be done without appropriate goals being established. Are you looking to increase sales? If so, by how much and when? Setting goals and measuring them is critical to know what direction things are going. Many business owners overlook this and assume the business will take care of itself on the marketing end.
However, this rarely happens, and instead, the business falls apart before it even had a chance of starting.
To avoid this, take the time to define a few (2 or 3) key metrics you want to measure that define your marketing success.
3) Helps Determine Potential Flaws
Have you ever had what you thought was a brilliant idea, only then to have someone help you realize that it wasn’t a great idea at all? Small business owners are usually experts at what their business is (ex: plumbing, bookkeeping, real estate, etc) but not so much with marketing.
The marketing plan is a way to lay things out, see how everything inter-relates, to give you the big picture. Are there pieces missing? Are there opportunities missed?
Your marketing plan is a living, breathing document and is something you can share with others to get input. They may see things you didn’t.
4) Simplifies Approach
Sometimes, it is best to simplify things down as much as possible while running your business. Marketing doesn’t have to be complicated.
You don’t want to have a marketing plan that is all over the place, which is why a good one can help clarify and simplify your marketing efforts. You want something that is easy to take out and look at to see how your marketing dollars are working. I encourage my clients to “do a few things well” rather than “lots of things” when it comes to marketing.
Most people don’t do this and then regret their outcomes.
Start with a simple summary of your business, niche, and everything related to it.
This sets things into motion and lays out what you have to work when at this point.
2) Target Market
Understanding your target market is critical.
After all, do you know who you are selling to as a small business owner? Getting crystal clear on your “who” will help with your marketing efforts because your messages and media will be uber-targeted, like you’re talking directly to one person – that one person who is going to be interested in what you offer.
3) Competitive Analysis
What is the competition doing? What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly?
You want to have these answers, so you can position yourself uniquely in the marketplace. You don’t want to be a “me-too” so finding what makes you different and unique from your competition will help you stand out in the marketplace.
4) Market Position
You have to differentiate yourself from the rest to stand out as a business in any niche. What is your USP – unique selling proposition? What can you tell me about your business that makes you so different from everyone else? Why would I want to do business with you vs your competitor?
In my coffee and smoothie business, I positioned what we offered as a “vacation in cup” not a “smoothie”. Our catering packages were called “The Ultimate Hawaiian Getaway Without a 12-Hour Flight”. By doing so, I created experiences that people were willing to pay premium prices for. I was no longer a commodity.
This is where you list out what marketing tactics you’re going to implement for everything listed above.
What will you do on social media? Email? Content? Direct mail? Putting it all out will help you see synergies and how you can integrate your marketing efforts.
It’s also important to put deadlines and who is responsible for implementing each strategy to ensure it gets accomplished.
How much are you going to spend on your marketing? Where are you going to spend it?
This is important to list out, so you don’t recklessly toss money at random marketing campaigns without knowing what you’re trying to achieve.
How will the marketing approach be measured and analyzed once things are running?
You want to have a transparent approach to this aspect because it will help keep things in check. A marketing plan does no good if you have no idea what worked and what didn’t. It’s easy to write up a marketing campaign, feel good about yourself because you “created a marketing plan”. Implementation is critical and so is measurement. Knowing the ROI of what worked and what didn’t will help you save time and money as well as leverage opportunities.
Now you understand what a marketing plan is, how it can benefit your small business and why it’s so essential to keeping you on track to achieving your goals.
What are you going to do TODAY to put it into action? Comment below.
About Stacey Riska
Stacey Riska, aka “Small Business Stacey” is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients, MORE sales, and MORE money. Stacey is the founder of Small Biz Marketing Specialist, THE go-to place for marketing tips, techniques and strategies that get results. Stacey is also the creator of the Daily Deals for Massive Profits Training Program, an online video training program that teaches small and local business owners how to use daily deal sites like Groupon to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn’t!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
Stacey Riska, aka "Small Business Stacey" is a serial entrepreneur who is passionate about saving small business and rebuilding Main Street. She helps small and local business owners become a #SmallBizMarketingWiz by teaching them marketing strategies that get MORE: MORE leads, MORE customers/clients/patients, MORE sales, and MORE money. Stacey is the founder of Small Biz Marketing Specialist, THE go-to place for marketing tips, techniques and strategies that get results. She's also the author of "Small Business Marketing Made EZ" where she shares the 6-simple-step plan to get your marketing into ACTION - literally and figuratively. Stacey is also the creator of the Daily Deals for Massive Profits, an online video training program that teaches small and local business owners how to use daily deal sites like Groupon to skyrocket their business growth and get massive profits. In this program she teaches from experience, as it was the key strategy that transformed her coffee and smoothie business from being $500K in debt to a 7-figure profitable business. When not saving the small business world, she enjoys sipping red wine, eating chocolate (who doesn't!) and spending time with her amazing husband.
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