Five Tweaks Small Businesses Should Make to Their Marketing Plans
By Lora Ullerich / September 20, 2011
Your kids are back to school, your clients are back from vacation and your phones are back to ringing. Fall is a great opportunity to get back into the routine in work, play and life in general. As a small business owner, you’re up to speed on new regulations and policies, but when was the last time you took a look at your marketing plan? Are you ahead? Behind? Right on schedule? Regardless of where you fall, here are five actions you can start right now regarding your marketing plan.
1) Review it often. A healthy, growing small business begins with planning. A well thought out marketing plan allows you to see what’s working and what’s not. Based on your analysis, you can then adjust and possibly set a new direction. So do you know where your marketing plan is? Is it hidden under a stack of papers? Is it located in a secret file on your desktop? Or have you printed it out, refer to it often and continue to make tweaks with a red pen? A marketing plan isn’t set in stone, rather it is dynamic. You can continually make changes to it. That’s one of the perks of being a small business owner. Why not set some time aside time each week to review, adjust and look forward – or even better, make business planning a part of each day. Not only will this help you avoid costly mistakes and stay on track, but you’ll feel more focused and relaxed.
2) Set relevant, actionable goals. If you’re not a runner, you would never set a goal to run a marathon as your first race, right? That’s ridiculous! Rather, you would start your goal setting by running on a regular basis and eventually working up to a 5K. When it comes to marketing, goal setting works similarly. You set relevant, actionable goals that you know you can achieve and build on them. Like in our recent webinar Don’t Bite off More Than You Can Chew, rather than print off a list of 2,000 potential customers, why not make 20 calls per day and send out 50 postcards. Build on your success and then run a half-mile more, so to speak. Eventually, you’ll make it to that 26.2 mile race.
3) Follow your budget. Everyone, including the Oracle of Omaha, is on a budget. It’s the same way with marketing. Although it’s a no-brainer to have a budget, sticking to it may cause more of a headache. There’s always going to be that “great deal” or “coveted sponsorship” to take advantage of. But doing that can also lead to wiping out your marketing dollars halfway through the year. To avoid this, keep track of every dollar spent on each campaign and the ROI attached to that. Remember: marketing is supposed to be self-sustaining so you can build your future campaign based off the success of your last one.
4) Drop what’s not working. Being budget-conscious also means knowing when to drop what’s not working and trying something new. For instance, if that little league baseball team sponsorship hasn’t brought any new traffic through your door after the game, you may consider not renewing the sponsorship for next year. What about the effectiveness of the billboard sign? Has anyone mentioned they came in or called after seeing your picture? Rather than continue spending money on something that’s not effective, think up new ways to invest those marketing dollars. You may just find the sweet spot.
5) Share your plan. So you’ve reviewed your marketing plan, are keeping track of the money and have dropped campaigns that aren’t effective to focus on ones that are. Does anyone else know what’s going on inside your head when it comes to marketing? Why not share your plan? It’s like anything else. Once you alert people the plan, it brings an extra dose of accountability.
What do you think? Share how you make your small business successful each and every day.