The Marketing Plan: A Small-Business Essential

The Marketing Plan: A Small-Business Essential

Guest blog by Alisha Lucido, Marketing Coordinator

In small businesses, marketing often gets placed on the backburner, yet many times the primary focus is on getting new leads. But how do you get new leads? By marketing! Small-business marketing guru Dan Kennedy says it best, “If you’re looking for the answer that turns your time into the most money, then turn your attention to marketing.”

But how do you start? If you’re not a marketing firm or haven’t had any marketing experience it can seem overwhelming at first. To get the most out of your marketing efforts start with a marketing plan. Think of the marketing plan like your budget. Budgets help keep businesses on track and aim for certain goals; a marketing plan does the same. A great marketing plan doesn’t come together over night; it takes time to formulate.

Our marketing plan is created annually and made up of many different components including: emails, newsletters, social media & blog posts, direct mail, online advertising, and networking events. Beyond that, our marketing plan has different elements & messages for our various audiences - clients, prospects, referral partners, etc. It sounds like a lot (and it is!) but the marketing plan helps to ensure that everything has a time & place and keeps everything running smoothly throughout the year.

There are two fundamental components to our marketing plan: timing and the audience.

  • Timing- It is important to look at the broad picture. Start with the items that are set in stone. For us it starts with our quarterly newsletters. Since they are quarterly we know, without fail, when the newsletters will go out and are able to plan the smaller/ more frequent communications around the newsletters. This way we can ensure we are not sending out a newsletter and an email to the same people on the same day- that would be overkill. To achieve this balance, all of our campaigns have been meticulously thought out and planned – right down to the day. I’m not kidding, the days between each email are always counted! It takes time, but I promise it is worth it in the end.
  • Audience- Messages sent to our clients are different than those sent to our prospects - which makes sense. Generally messages resonate better when the content is customized. We’ve segmented our referral partners into three distinct groups, therefore we have three different messages for each. While it takes more time to set up, your audience is more likely to listen when they feel like you are talking directly to them. The number of times we reach out to each audience also varies - figure out a cadence that works best with your business model.

Sometimes people assume marketing has to be very artsy; but in reality it’s more about structure and consistent execution (which is good for us numbers people!). Start with a simple plan, execute, and make adjustments along the way. It does take time, but it’s very rewarding when those new leads start coming in. . . and when we hear readers say “We always look forward to your newsletters!”

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