Here we are, a month into the year and what’s happening in your marketing department?

OK, if you’re a small business, that might not be a department, it may just be you, but having a clear marketing plan is important.

Marketing covers pretty much everything from customer demographics through research and development, advertising, promotion, sales all the way to customer service.  It’s a big area to cover, but having at least a skeleton plan is important, even for the smallest business.

Here’s our 5 tips to put your marketing on track

1: Understand your target client well

This means knowing what their problems are and how you can solve them, so that all your efforts are accurately targeted.

2: Know where your business comes from

This will be tougher if you’re a new business and that means you need to make a habit of asking every new customer how they found you.  If an enquirer says ‘online’ ask if they did a search or found you via social media or somewhere else.

If most of your existing clients have come from referrals, how did the referrers know about you? 

This will help to ensure that your focus is on the right activities.

3: Have an online strategy

This is not just about social media.  Your website needs to present you well and be focused on what your customers get, rather than what you do.  Does your site look up-to-date and present information in the way that potential clients want to get it? 

Yes, social media is important, but don’t just spray comments out and never get personal on your business accounts. 

  • Aim to share your expertise and offer tips and advice to engage your audience.
  • Blogs are a great way of establishing your credibility as an expert and can be linked to via posts on various social media platforms.
  • Do you have a list that you have permission to market to? Could you build one with the right lead magnet?
  • Would a regular newsletter or email campaign help to create engagement?

A content plan will make creating your regular posts and messages much easier.

4: Before you buy print advertising, understand the actual costs

If you decide to put an advert into a specific publication, remember that the cost of the ad may only be the tip of the iceberg. 

If the ad is successful will you have to deal with increased phone or email traffic?  Will you need a lead magnet as a target to get interested people on your mailing list (creating this, including the artwork, creating and installing a form on your website all cost money)? 

The best special offer on an ad is only worth it if the publication is read by a large proportion of your target audience.

5: Improve your network

Whether you network locally or online or both, educating your network about what you have to offer can often be the best way to generate a stream of business referrals. 

Actively aim to network with the people who fit your ideal client profile, but don’t dismiss connections because they’re not potential clients, they could know people who fit your perfect client profile perfectly and be enthusiastic advocates for you.

Finally, think ahead, create a strategy, put a plan in place and then follow it and don’t be diverted by ‘offers too good to refuse’ if they don’t fit into it!