As a start-up business, ensuring that you maximise your marketing spend and avoid wasting precious resources is essential. Too few small businesses have marketing plans in place and if they do they tend to be created then forgotten as day to day business activities become prioritised. The businesses that we see succeed at our small business consultancy tend to start with a marketing plan and then constantly review the progress of the plan. Don’t worry though, a plan doesn’t have to be exhaustive to begin with – all you need is an outline of a plan with budget considerations, strategy and measurement criteria.
By creating a marketing plan and regular reviewing on a monthly basis, you can track the progress and crucially manage performance against expectations. This will put you ahead of the majority of small businesses that are simply getting by on a yearly basis with little thought given to accurately measuring marketing ROI. As an owner manager this process can give you the feeling of control – that you are not simply working in your business but actively working on the progress of your business.
Below I have included the essential components of a marketing plan that will propel your business forward.
First and foremost the key component in any plan is the measurement of its success. By setting up regular intervals when you can measure the effectiveness of your marketing, you provide yourself with an opportunity to ensure that you are maximising your marketing spend and bringing in new revenue in excess of cost.
With the availability of free website tracking packages such as Google Analytics, you can easily track the success of your marketing and advertising spend. By setting up goals within Analytics you can specifically track how many leads you covert and where you’re visitors are leaving your website. If you run a significant off line operation you can ask your leads and customers how they found out about your firm. Make sure all of the offline and online conversion are tracked in a spreadsheet that collects all the data and measures ROI. Repeat any strategies that are delivering sales and eliminate or optimise strategies that are providing low or negative ROI.
We recommend budgeting as the cornerstone of any plan to either transform an existing business or start a new business. To decide upon your budget you must undertake a process of determining the amount of disposable income available for marketing your business. Only after you have identified the figure you can afford to spend should you develop your monthly plan and identify your marketing channels. As previously discussed, you should identify a metric that tells you to stop if the tactic is not generating the required ROI.
3. Identify Marketing Channels
Following the process of determining your available spend, now is the time to identify the channels that you believe will provide you with the best ROI and enable you to achieve your marketing objectives. At this stage you should analyse your past experiences, the size of the budget and where your audience can be reached.
You should consider the whole market and then individually select specific tactics aligned to your audience including direct mail, email, print ads, social media, online ads, email and other activities that will help you acquire new customers.
Our businesses have seen great success in recent year with pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, which if run correctly can be extremely effective for small budgets. You can use PPC to target visitors at all stages of the buying funnel.