Creating a marketing strategy for your small business is a very important part of any successful marketing plan.
The mistake many small business owners make is they immediately jump into marketing tactics before they have a clear strategy. The end result is jumping from tactic to tactic with little success.
Strategy must always come before tactics!
I'm going to show you exactly how to create a marketing strategy for your small business, but it's really important to understand the difference between strategy and tactics first.
Strategy vs Tactics
“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.” - The Art of War, Sun Tzu
The terms tactics and strategy are often confused, interchanged, and misused.
A strategy is the "What?". It answers the question “What do you want to accomplish?”.
So, a marketing strategy is a plan on how to achieve your marketing goals.
A tactic is the "How?". It answers the question “How are you going to meet your goal?”.
Tactics are specific and are often oriented toward smaller steps and shorter timeframes along the way. Tactics are the specific steps and actions you will take to meet your goals.
A great strategy needs effective tactics to work. Strategy and tactics are always on the same team, but they are not the same thing.
Why Strategy Must Come Before Tactics
In every major decision in life, we all have to think about what we want to accomplish before figuring out the specific actions we need to take.
Focusing on tactics first is a huge mistake that many people make. Having a strategy in place first sets the foundation for who you are trying to reach, the need/problem you solve, and why your company is the obvious choice.
If you choose to jump into tactics first, your marketing will struggle in one way or another...and I don't want that for you!
The Benefits of Having a Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business
Before I get into how to create a marketing strategy for your small business, I think it's important to understand why you should create a strategy and the benefits of doing so.
Here are the benefits of creating a marketing strategy.
- You'll only work with your ideal clients.
- Your business will stand out from the crowd.
- You can charge a premium for your products/services.
- Marketing your business will become much easier.
Now that you know the benefits let's dig into how to create a marketing strategy for your small business...
For an even deeper dive into how to create a marketing strategy, check out our eBook on the subject...
How to Create a Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business
There are several important elements in creating a marketing strategy for your small business. Here they are:
- Identify your ideal client.
- Develop a core message.
- Create content to match the customer journey.
These elements are the foundation of your marketing strategy. Let's dig into it...
1. Define Your Ideal Client
A marketing strategy starts with defining your ideal client(s). Sometimes you'll hear this referred to as buyer personas or avatars, but they are really the same thing.
I recommend an existing business get started by looking at their current customer list. You want to identify your best customers by looking at how profitable they are and whether they refer you business.
Your most profitable customers that refer you the most business are usually a great place to start identifying your potential ideal clients. When you investigate this list you will start to see patterns and characteristics appear.
The more specific you can be about your ideal clients the better. The more you know about them...their likes, dislikes, problems, needs, and goals, the better equipped you will be.
Keep in mind, your ideal client must....
- be motivated.
- have a need or a problem you can solve.
- have the money to pay for your product/service.
- be someone you WANT to work with.
What if you are just starting out and don't have current customers? Follow these steps:
- Start with a small market.
If you try to speak to everyone, you end up speaking to no one. Starting with a narrow, small target market will make it much easier to begin.
- Create an initial value proposition.
Based on your best, educated guess create a value proposition you believe will resonate with your market and separate you from the competition.
- Discover the reality by testing.
This can be a little tricky, but once you've completed steps 1 and 2 you want to get in front of potential clients in your target market to test your assumptions. Getting involved in trade associations for your target market can be a great place to do this.
- Draw an ideal customer outline.
Now it's time to discover and define everything you can about your target market.
- Add your strategy components.
It's time to take all that you've learned in steps 1-4 and apply it to your strategy.
Once you've identified your ideal clients, it's time to start crafting a message that speaks to them...
2. Create Your Core Message
Sometimes you'll hear this referred to as a brand promise or unique selling proposition. What I'm referring to as a core message is the same thing.
A core message is what makes you different from your competition and makes your company the obvious choice to do business with.
Two of the best ways to create a core message are to read your online reviews and to interview your best customers. It's pretty common for small business owners to think their customers do business with them for one reason and find out it's actually a different reason they never even thought about.
You can gain valuable insight by seeing what your customers have to say about your business.
Check out this podcast for detailed info on how to create a core message.
3. Create Content to Match the Customer Journey
Creating content geared towards attracting and engaging your ideal clients is a must have for success.
If you've completed the first two steps, you know who your ideal clients are, what their needs are, how you are uniquely positioned to help them and have a core message that speaks to them.
Now, you can start creating content to build awareness, educate, and convert prospects to clients.
It doesn't matter what types of content marketing you choose to use. Find the ones that resonate with you and your ideal clients.
Once you know the types of content you are going to use, you need to start creating that content for the different steps in the customer journey.
What is the customer journey? It's the different steps a potential client will take from the time they come to know your business all the way through doing business with you.
Most people don't learn about your business and immediately buy. There is a journey they take and we look at this as an hourglass with 7 steps: know, like, trust, try, buy, repeat and refer.
Check it out in the image below...
You need to identify what type of content is going to resonate with your audience at each step in the customer journey.
Let's say I'm a realtor specializing in a specific community. I might create a blog post about the community and all the great amenities it has to offer as a piece of content for the Know step in the customer journey.
To build Trust I might publish monthly market statistics with my commentary on the numbers.
And at the Refer and Repeat levels, I might send out a monthly newsletter and hold client appreciation events.
Is this starting to make sense? The content needs of your customers are quite different depending on where they are in the journey and you need to create content that helps guide them through the entire journey.
There you have it! Those are the essential elements of how to create a marketing strategy for your small business. With the information I've provided and our eBook below you'll have all you need to create a solid marketing strategy.
Take the time to really nail these 3 steps and you'll be well ahead of most of your competition.
Do you find this intimidating and need assistance with it? There are plenty of businesses that outsource their marketing strategy to get the expert strategy advice they need.
I hope that was helpful. Feel free to comment below or share.
Do you want a deeper dive into how to create a marketing strategy? Get our eBook on the subject below...
Header image courtesy of Pexels.com.