Developing and executing a marketing plan is a critical task for any small business. Marketing reaches new audiences, provides value to existing customers, and generates leads. Marketing a small business, however, can be daunting and takes both time and resources that business owners might be tempted to spend elsewhere. Here are three challenges and solutions for small business marketing.
Develop a Marketing Plan
Engaging in marketing without a plan is like playing Whac-A-Mole at the neighborhood arcade. Without a plan, you’ll spend time and effort reacting to opportunities without knowing if they will work.
A solid marketing plan doesn’t need to be elegant, but it does need to guide marketing efforts. It should include the marketing plan’s goals, which strategies you’ll use to reach those goals, and the activities needed within each strategy. Run every marketing opportunity through the plan to make sure it aligns with your overall goals and strategies. If it does, do it. If it doesn’t, pass or evaluate whether the experiment is worth it.
Create Smart Content
Smart content provides value, is written for the small business’s target audience and customers, and is compelling. Small business owners might be overwhelmed about what type of content to create and how to create it. Start with ideation. Set aside an hour each month to brainstorm content ideas, either solo or with a team. Ideas can include blog posts, infographics, web copy, video, photography, press releases, interviews, and “behind-the-scenes” content for outlets such as Instagram Stories or Snapchat. Rank each idea, and run it through the marketing plan to make sure it aligns with the business’s goals and strategies.
Once you’ve created a list of content needs, evaluate what can be completed in-house and what is best left to a professional. You can use many DIY services, such as infographic makers and online graphic design software, to generate targeted content. However, for a high-visibility marketing campaign — for example, a campaign around the holidays — hiring a professional might be worth the cost.
One of the biggest challenges in marketing a small business is being consistent. While quality content that provides value is better than a large quantity of content that misses its mark, it is important that target audiences and customers have regular access to new content. According to the Rule of Seven, potential customers see an advertisement seven times before purchasing a product or service. That audience doesn’t want to see the exact same content seven times, though. A solid marketing plan will account for this and find new ways to promote a product or service that continually provides value.
Consistency can be hard to maintain, however, when you’re running your own marketing, as other tasks often get in the way. Delegating marketing tasks to an employee or hiring a freelancer or contractor can help keep marketing consistent.
Savvy small business owners know effective marketing is critical to their success and growth. By creating a marketing plan, generating smart content, and delivering consistent messaging to target audiences and customers, you can use marketing effectively to promote your product or service.