Marketing plan: Figure out what works. Then do it

You are a small business and can’t afford a marketing agency to develop a simple marketing plan for your business, this post would help you put together a workable framework for yourself.

Start with your marketing objectives and goals.

Like everything in life, you’ve got to know what you intend to achieve within a specific timeframe.

It gives purpose to your business, and it’s one way to know what’s working and what’s not (I’ll talk about this later).

Your marketing goal should be specific, measurable, aspirational, realistic, and time-bound. It should drive all your marketing efforts – social media, Ads, emails and search engine optimisation.

Your marketing plan has to be linked to what you are trying to achieve at a particular stage of your business.

As an early stage small business, you could just want to grow the awareness around what you are selling, or if you already have some following, you might want to increase revenue or drive more sales.

If you are trying to grow awareness, you are more concerned about the number of people your marketing strategies and tactics can reach within a given time frame. You want to set goals around the number of page views, impressions or enquiries for more information about your product or services.

Typically, you should set yearly goals. You can then break them into monthly goals that would ultimately help you achieve the goals for that particular year.

Monthly goals are necessary. With monthly goals, you can know if you are actually progressing and if your ideas and tactics are working as they should.

Example:

Now that you have set some realistic, time-bound goals, how do you go about achieving them?

How do you come up with ideas, strategies, tactics, and how do you know which platforms to focus on?

The best approach, which is also the fastest way to come up with lots of ideas quickly, is by examining what’s working already in your industry. There’s no need to spending all your time trying to come up with unique marketing strategies when you have so many other things to do.

How do you know what’s working in your industry?

Do a quick analysis of your competitors.

Find out:

  • Who are your top 5 competitors (online & offline)?
  • What Unique Selling Proposition are they pushing?
  • Who are their primary targets?
  • What marketing channels are they using?
  • What kind of content is doing well for them on those channels?
  • What do people like about them?
  • What are the things people don’t like about them?
  • What kind of stories isn’t my competition sharing?

Your research would help you identify what’s working for your competitors and the weaknesses they currently have, that you could possibly take advantage of.

Now, do an analysis of your own business too.

Ask yourself:

  • What resources do I have to achieve my marketing goal?
  • What marketing tools do I have available right now?
  • Who is my primary target audience?
  • What new trends could I capitalize on?

Taking into consideration your limited resources and the tools you have or can get for free online, it’s time to identify your own marketing channels.

Examples of marketing channels:

  • Social media networks
  • Blogs
  • Websites
  • Forums
  • Email
  • Events/Trade fairs
  • TV Commercials
  • Online video – Youtube
  • Social media ads
  • Press releases
  • Webinars
  • Print Ads
  • Radio Ads
  • SMS marketing
  • SEO
  • Paid Ads

Which should I focus on?

From your competitor analysis, you should already have an idea of the marketing channels that’s effective with your line of business.

The most popular channels are often: social media, website/blog, email marketing, Paid ads and search engine optimization.

What are the tactics I can use on these channels?

  • Facebook/Instagram ad
  • Google ad
  • Retargeting display ad
  • Sponsored blog post
  • Influencer marketing
  • Testimonials/User stories
  • Engagement on social media through survey, quizzes and polls
  • Giveaways
  • Create educative content
  • Content curation of useful resources from other sources
  • Create a contest
  • News release
  • Guest blogging
  • Email Newsletter
  • Create a tool that helps your target audience solve a problem
  • Resharing old content

There are lots of tactics out there. Remember to check the tactics that seem to be working for your competitors – refine and try them out.

The idea of this simple marketing plan should be to iterate as much as possible between each strategy and tactic to know what’s working and what’s not with the purpose of achieving your marketing your goals.

Feranmi is a financial writer and SEO consultant. He's part of the team at Chaka.ng - Your Passport to Trade US, Nigerian & International Stock Markets.