Tax day is a good opportunity to step back and take a look at your business’ finances. Part of it is looking at your marketing plan and budget. If you don’t have one, you should start creating one as soon as possible because it’ll help you keep an overview, stay on track with your campaigns and measure the success of your marketing efforts.
Here’s an outline of what your marketing plan should look like and some key questions to ask yourself:
1. Lay out a vision/goal for your marketing. What do you want to achieve? Who do you want to reach? What are the messages that you want to send to your existing and potential customers?
2. Analyze the status quo. It’s important to know where you stand before moving forward to avoid spending money in the wrong places. What are you already doing? What are the strengths and weaknesses of your strategy? Where can you improve? What are your competitors doing?
3. Define your target market / segmentation. Who wants your products and services? Not everything is for everyone and by marketing to the wrong people you could waste a lot of money. Think about your typical and ideal customers. What are some common features they share? Are they in a certain age group, do they share an interest, do they live in the same neighborhood? Segment your target group and try different marketing strategies. (For example, NearWoo lets you target not only specific neighborhoods, but also specific demographics and certain behaviors) Try to think outside of the box: Are there any other groups you haven’t targeted so far? What do those groups expect/need/want?
4. Define your strategy. Taking your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and target market into account, come up with a strategy: Which channels will you be using for whom? What is your niche? What kinds of advertisement do you want to use? What type of language and design – young and hip or more formal?
5. Decide on a budget. Having a marketing budget is crucial for the success of your business. If nobody knows that you exist, nobody will buy your products and services. It can be difficult to figure out how big the budget should be. Experts say to start with 10% of your revenues. See how far you get with that and adjust later. Divide the year up into fiscal quarters and determine the cost for each item (fliers, press release distribution, email marketing, mobile advertising…) per quarter. There might be quarters that need a bigger budget than others: If you own a flower shop, you’ll need a bigger budget for Valentine’s Day. Distinguish between marketing for brand development and marketing for promoting your business. Leave room for changes and unexpected events and campaigns because sometimes life happens.
6. Have a timeline. Make a rough plan for the whole year, a more detailed plan for the quarter and a specific plan for the next month to know exactly when you have to do what. The less organized you are, the more details your plan should have. Put reminders into your calendar to give yourself enough time to prepare campaigns.
7. Measure the success of your marketing efforts and adjust your plan. Read our recent blog post on measuring the success of your marketing. Make changes as needed and spend your marketing budget wisely.