You have a website, you blog, you send emails, and the list goes on, but you’re not yet seeing results. What gives? You may be missing the one big piece that ties it all together: a marketing strategy. Developing a small business marketing strategy will help ensure the elements you’ve worked so hard to put together are working to help you connect with and win customers.
What is a marketing strategy?
According to Investopedia, a marketing strategy is your “game plan” for reaching potential customers. You can make a game plan using a marketing mix, best distilled into the four Ps: product, price, place and promotion.
- Product refers to the goods or services you sell.
- Price is what it costs to buy your product and how it’s paid for. Your price reflects whether your business is high end or for the everyman.
- Place is where someone can find your product or service and how it’s presented in that context. What is your online store like? Can customers buy through Instagram?
- Promotion is how you get the word out—the things you might traditionally associate with marketing, like advertising, blogging and email.
On top of the four Ps, think about your target audience. Who do you sell to and why? What about your brand: What story are you telling with your small business—and how?
A good marketing strategy builds a funnel that you can move prospects through, converting them to leads and then to customers. Your marketing strategy lays out various goals.
What is a marketing tactic?
A tactic is an individual action to achieve those goals. Marketing tactics include sending emails, posting on social media, hosting webinars or live events and more. You might think up new tactics, so it’s important to dictate your strategy first and make sure the tactics work within it.
Why you need an online marketing strategy
Don’t jump straight into tactics! Having a marketing strategy ensures anyone else you work with can refer to it as well, whether you hire someone to redo your website, have a full-time marketer on staff or get help from family. A marketing strategy keeps your business’ image streamlined and professional.
Putting together a marketing plan: 10 ideas and tips
With the four Ps, target audience and brand in mind, here are some specific tips to build your marketing strategy:
1. Set brand guidelines to free yourself of guesswork
Ensure cohesion across your marketing efforts by developing a set of brand guidelines. Brand guidelines establish your identity as you market your small business. They include visual elements of your brand, like logos, fonts, colors and imagery, as well as intangible components, like what it stands for, who you partner with and what kind of language and tone you use. This article from Oberlo showcases good examples of brand guidelines and tips for making your own. This upfront work results in massive future time savings.
2. Create a website that’s your home on the web
Do you need a website? Our opinion: You should definitely make one! Showcase your brand and your products, update it regularly and make it useful for anyone who comes to it. For some inspiration, check out these great websites!
3. Blog often and on a calendar
While a blog shouldn’t be your entire strategy, you’ll want to update your blog regularly with compelling posts. (Check out some tips for generating content.) Create a content calendar and update it monthly or quarterly.
4. Craft an email marketing strategy
Email marketing is inexpensive relative to other forms of marketing, and it’s the only form where you can (almost) guarantee your message reaches the intended recipient. Determine what kinds of emails you’ll send. Use a service like HubSpot or Mailchimp to build templates for those emails, so they’re ready to go when it’s time to create mailings.
5. Find your voice with a social media strategy
People spend an average of 2.5 hours a day on social media, and 84% of the age 18–29 demographic is on social, according to Oberlo. Establish your voice on social media and decide what and when you’ll post. Determine your objectives with your posts, from promoting brand awareness to directing the conversation.
6. Experiment with advertising
Online advertising offers another way to connect with customers. Platforms like Google Ads, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest allow you to advertise to specific demographics, geographies and keywords to help stretch your marketing dollars.
7. Get your online profiles in order
Take the time to optimize your online profiles. Create social accounts and have them ready with profile pictures and links, so people know it’s you, even if your strategy doesn’t call for being active on Twitter right away. Create your Google My Business account and your Yelp account. And make sure you’re thinking about your strategy for reputation management.
8. Build an SEO strategy
As with advertising, search engine optimization (SEO) is just a part of your overall marketing strategy. SEO is about making sure your website shows up when your customers use search, and just as important, it’s about making sure those prospects find something useful once they land on your site. Check out this guide, and remember that your SEO strategy is bolstered by enticing landing pages, compelling marketing offers and your business blog.
9. Use a task management app
Implementing your strategy is easier if you keep track of everything you have to do. Consider a task management application (most have free tiers) to help make the most of your hard work. You can use these apps to assign tasks, track progress against goals and ensure you’re meeting deadlines.
10. Manage your accounts and passwords
A comprehensive marketing strategy has tendrils that span all sorts of areas, which can result in lots of online design, tracking and posting tools. Use a password manager like LastPass or 1Password to securely keep track of everything in one spot. Requesting password resets wastes time.
The best way to market a new small business (or an existing one!) is to build a strategy and follow it, adjusting elements as needed along the way. And the best way to follow that strategy is to arm yourself with the tools and plans to be successful. If you put in the work upfront on your marketing strategy, you’ll save yourself loads of time in the long run, allowing you to focus on delivering a great product.
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