The reality today is that entrepreneurs are inundated with information and struggle to make decisions when it comes time to updating their business plan.
So it’s not surprising if you still haven’t devised a marketing strategy with a dedicated budget. After all, you probably don’t have a marketing manager to keep an eye on developments for you, and the result is that you end up spending your marketing budget on the same tactics as last year and hope for the best.
However, we do see successful businesses that have updated marketing plans in place against which they will measure their progress through the year. So it’s possible. Just get started, using these five priorities to guide you one step at a time.
1. Get your team involved in your marketing plan
Before you start building a marketing plan, you should identify the members of your team who will help make it happen. To be successful, you need to let each person on the team and your external partners contribute their ideas and expertise. Are you telling a compelling story about your brand? Do you entertain your target audiences? Do you even know who your target audiences are? As the leader, you need to make sure that team members can contribute to putting an innovative plan together.
Tip: Watch our online webinar for insights on what works and resonates best with customers. As you brainstorm with your team, keep a record of all your innovative ideas. You won’t use all of them right away, but you can come back to some later in the year.
2. Be human, transparent and socially responsible
Once you have your marketing strategy written down, look at how you can create an exceptional customer experience. These days, most marketing buzzwords relate to the themes of being human, transparent and socially responsible. Your role as a business leader is to show your customers and prospects that you care about them and the world we live in. We have seen many success stories where companies have done well by caring. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
If you are on social media channels, make it a daily habit to show you care. Get a free social media monitoring tool and start listening to your customers while having your morning coffee and then respond to them.
Ask for genuine feedback from customers about their customer experience on a regular basis via email marketing and adjust your customer journey based on their input.
Recruit the right people who care just like you do. Customers need to feel that your team is a caring one across all channels or they will ask someone else’s team to help them.
Tip: Showing a customer you care isn’t just a marketing tactic. Include it in every aspect of your company culture and business decisions. Why? Because it’s just good business, that’s why.
3. Track your return on investment (ROI)
Even the very best marketing strategy will fail in today’s highly competitive and global marketplace if you don’t track ROI. Let’s be honest, it can be challenging to accurately measure your ROI on your online marketing efforts. But far too many entrepreneurs rely on a quarterly or monthly report from their marketing partners, reflecting data that really should be available to them in real time. Technology today allows you to track ROI on your digital assets on your computer, tablet or smartphone. So make sure your marketing partners implement the right tools to track the right small data. Here are examples of questions you want to answer on a customized dashboard.
How much is an online lead worth?
How many did we get last week?
Did we improve compared to the week before?
What about the same week last year?
Why the change?
Ask questions and understand the answers. And get the training necessary to critically assess your data.
Tip: Make sure you assign an employee to aggregate data from different marketing partners or ask an external expert for help. Our free eBook Boost Your Sales with Online Marketing is a great source of inspiration! Often, we see the same ROI (sale or other conversion) being attributed to multiple sources which can be confusing at best.
4. Get going on your social media strategy
Social media is here to stay and with the number of interconnected gadgets multiplying exponentially every month rest assured its popularity is only going to increase.
Keeping up with these opportunities to engage with prospects and customers requires a consistent social media strategy. The days when it was good enough to hire a summer intern or a relative to set up your company profile on a social media channel and forget about it are long gone. If you take the leap of faith to launch an online presence, it’s imperative to have a qualified person in charge of managing your brand on social media. It’s your brand that’s at stake, so an online community manager is a safer bet.
Tip: Create a social media marketing calendar adapted to your marketing activities, major business events and seasonal sales variations. Keep track of which campaigns are successful and work to improve your approach. The same strategy applies to other marketing tactics like email, blog and off-line activities (trade shows, traditional marketing etc.).
5. Celebrate your successes—big and small
Marketing is not an exact science even if you can analyze more data about your customer’s behaviour today than ever before. As an entrepreneur, you may be prone to focusing only your marketing blunders. But you should be highlighting and celebrating your successes too.
So the next time your marketing person or partner delivers a successful email campaign that builds market share recognize it and celebrate! When an industry event generates your 100th or 1,000th Twitter follower reach out to that individual to thank them and celebrate! It engages, builds trust, and can improve your company’s culture. For example, at the BDC, we specifically celebrate entrepreneurs every year during BDC Small Business WeekTM because they’re the key drivers of our economy and deserve to be recognized.
Tip: Make sure to follow successful companies including competitors for inspiration. Sign up on their social media channels, email newsletters, blogs etc. It will help inspire you and help you to innovate and recognized when you’ve done something exceptional.
Conclusion and recommendations
Take time in the coming weeks to put together your marketing plan while keeping the above recommendations in mind. Ask your team or external partners for help and guidance and allow them to add value. Don’t be afraid to try new things and ask customers and staff for feedback.
Take action. Measure. Optimize. Celebrate. Repeat.