The holiday season has officially passed and it’s time to start fresh — it’s time…
Whether it’s written down or not, all small businesses are running on marketing strategy. It may be planned out, “go with your gut,” or “whatever is going to get us through the next week”. Your strategy may be your unconscious planning, or you may have taken the time to sit down and put it to paper, getting your thoughts, goals, and objectives clear, with an accompanying plan to get you there.
While some business owners may have experienced massive growth without a big strategy, it’s hard to replicate if you’re new to business or struggling with mindset issues around profit and pricing. Without a clear plan, you may not be getting repeat or word-of-mouth customers, and your marketing activity may not be driving growth. These are all signs you need to pause and work out what’s going on.
We tend to think of strategy as something that comes out of big, serious meetings and creating a thick tome of graphs, long explanations, and a document the size of a small child. But small business strategies often don’t look like that at all. They do, however, need time to talk, ask the tricky questions, and shine a light on all areas of your business to find the easy wins, the tricky barriers, and the blocks to growth.
A small business marketing strategy is a living document
Both business and marketing strategy documents should be living, breathing documents that you understand, are written in plain English, and fit in with both your own goals and the goals of your business.
As a business owner, you may prefer to act rather than sit down and nut out a plan. But planning and strategy meetings are essential. They provide the space to think and create a practical plan that helps you know what to do next.
A small business marketing strategy looks different from a large organization for many reasons. The small business owner should always be actively involved with the strategy. It will often be lighter on areas that a larger organization will take months to work through, such as customer avatars, SWOT, and competitor analysis. It should include these, but they won’t tend to be in-depth. It’s going to include strategies that are often a bit more time-heavy and lower cost. It should also be a lot more action-based, with a practical plan to help the business owner know what to do next.
Small business owners are needed during the marketing strategy process
As a small business owner, you should be deeply involved with the creation of your marketing strategy. You will be instrumental in making it all happen, either directly or with team members. Understanding how your marketing fits with your business goals helps you build more consistent habits and take action.
What’s needed in a small business marketing strategy?
After working with over a thousand small business owners one-to-one on their marketing, here are the areas I’d recommend you include in your marketing strategy:
Pin down your goals for what you want this business to help you achieve in terms of lifestyle. Creating boundaries around how much time you want to be working, what you want to be spending your income from the business on, and how you want to fit other important parts of your life in is really important. If you don’t have a clear picture of this, it impacts everything from the type of business you have, to your pricing, and whether you need a team around you. This is all essential information to sort out before you start implementing marketing activity that’s going to grow your business in a specific direction.
Identify your core values. Knowing what you stand for helps you create a clear business culture and impacts every single marketing post you create.
Identify the capacity and the right skills you need to take action on your marketing. Your strategy needs to reflect your time and money budget, in conjunction with the goals you’ve laid out.
Know what your most important priority is. With marketing strategy, it’s all about finding the most important activity first. There’s undercover marketing that needs to happen before public marketing. As small business owners, it’s easy to get hooked on the quick results of posting something on a social media platform and seeing the likes and comments coming in. There is a place for that, but only after you’ve got all the marketing structure sorted underneath to give those people somewhere to go next.
Be focused on free to low-cost options first. It’s tempting to jump into paid advertising as it can feel easier, but if your organic (free) marketing isn’t getting you results first, the paid marketing is likely to be expensive per lead or a complete waste of money.
Always be focused on growth. The whole point is to increase leads, sales, and more business. A strategy should help you determine how you’re going to measure this and make sure you have systems in place, from a simple whiteboard system to a fully functioning CRM, depending on the size and stage of your business. Understanding what to look out for, becoming confident about setting goals, measuring progress, and being able to read results is all part of becoming a confident marketer and business owner.
Working on a strategy with someone else helping you and asking the right questions is always easier. If that’s not a marketing strategist for you, try working with another business owner or a friend to get someone else’s eyes on your business. I am honored to help a lot of other marketers who need external eyes on their businesses, and I also always need external eyes on my strategy too.
The end result, the document where your marketing strategy is recorded, is never the real place your marketing strategy should live. It’s crafted and woven during the discussion, the thinking, the filtering, the choosing, and the training you’ve done as you’ve written it that counts. As a small business owner, you need to be deeply involved in the strategy creation, because then you know why it includes certain areas and actions. It’s understood by you. You should be excited by it and see it as fully reflective of your small business. That’s where the marketing strategy really lives, and how it stays a true living document that can bring focus and more growth to your small business.
Your small business marketing strategy is essential for growth and success. A well-crafted and well-executed strategy can help you achieve your goals and create a business that supports your desired lifestyle. It’s important to be actively involved in the creation of your marketing strategy, so you understand why it includes certain areas and actions. Working with a marketing strategist or another business owner can be helpful in creating a solid strategy that will drive growth and success. Remember, the end result is not the real place your marketing strategy should live. It’s the process of crafting and executing it that really counts.
If you’re a small business owner struggling to create a solid marketing strategy, I’m here to help. As a marketing strategist with years of experience working with small businesses, I can help you create a strategy that’s tailored to your unique goals and needs. Contact me today to schedule a consultation and take the first step towards growing your business. Let’s work together to help your small business think big