What is a Marketing Plan?
A Marketing plan is a written plan outlining how your company is going to promote itself through advertising and marketing activities and what goals those activities are going to achieve within a given time period. It can include S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely) goals but it should also include some notes about strategy, voice, and budget. In the age of the internet, your website is critical to – if not the foundation of – your marketing plan.
You can stop wasting thousands of dollars every year by creating and working off of a small business Marketing Plan. Instead of putting money into whatever shiny ad that comes along, you can budget and strategically pay for marketing that will give you a measurable ROI.
Put Your Customers Before Your Marketing
Many small businesses put money into advertising before they ever consider if their customers will notice it. If you’ve ever seen a billboard for an obscure brand without a website or a phone number, you’ve seen this in action. Every time you hit the block button on your phone from a strange phone number, you see this in action. Misdirected ads are a real waste of your money.
Spend some time getting to know your target audience. Build personas, ask questions, whatever it takes. You don’t want to create ego-marketing for yourself or your CEO. You want to target your customers and meet their needs in a useful way.
Make a Marketing Plan and Write it Down
Now that you know who you want to market to, write down how you are going to do it, when, and with what tools. If you are marketing to seniors who play golf, you don’t want a radio ad blaring from the local hip-hop station. If you are marketing to teenage boys who play Lacrosse, you might not want to pay for a billboard in the rural part of town.
Meet your target customers where they are and your ad money will go a lot further. Maybe you need to sponsor a Lacrosse team or sponsor a charity golf outing. Your marketing plan can be as diverse as the interests of your customers. Whatever it is, write it down and look at what kinds of results you’ll expect from it. When you see it on paper you might notice a big gap in your summer marketing or a missed opportunity around the holidays. Just like a financial plan, a marketing plan will help you be proactive and calculated instead of reactive and wasteful.
The Foundation of Your Marketing Plan is Your Website
When the golfers go home, or the Lacrosse boys talk to their parents, nearly 90% of them will turn to the internet for more information. You may have a great billboard, but people will check your website to learn more about your business. You can’t measure how many people see the name of your business on a billboard or on a service truck. However, you can use Google Analytics to see how many people visit a specific page of your website. That’s why we use addresses like https://www.ltnow.com/quick-website/. We can measure how people come into our site from other promotional materials or from within our own site. You can use Google Webmaster tools to see what people were searching for when they came to your site.
Every part of your marketing plan should guide people toward conversion or lead them to get more information from your website. Even if you don’t publicize your website address (and why wouldn’t you?), people are going to do a Google search for the name of your company and expect to find information about your business.
As Ubiquitous as the Yellow Pages
It used to be that you could find any company you were looking for in the phone book. While you might still be able to find a printed phone book once in a while, most advertisers have moved on to more effective means of promotion. The internet has essentially replaced phone book advertising, and you have more control than ever over your listing. By filling out your Google Your Business information, you hand Google all of the information you want to give your customers in a very simple format. This free listing from Google can tell your future customers about your office hours, services, phone number, other contact information, and give a link to your website.
Adding your business information to Google does more than give you an online listing for free. It gives you a pretty accurate picture of how well your listing performs. Each month, you get a report detailing how many people looked you up on a map, found you from a search, and pressed the call button to call you. No more separate phone line from the phone company for tracking. No more guessing about how your customers found you. No more wondering about how well your marketing budget is working.
What is Digital Marketing? Isn’t it All Free?
Put simply, digital marketing is advertising via the internet, email, social networks, and apps. Digital marketing gives you access to a wealth of data about how people interact with it. You can track views, clicks, likes, and shares on Facebook or Twitter. You can measure what pages people went to before your page and the last page they visited before leaving your website. You can even target consumers by preferences that you would never know via traditional print or television media. Another appeal of digital media is its low cost. You can build a Facebook page for your business for free. A Twitter account to promote products and sales is also free. Put that together with a free WordPress.com website or a free Weebly site and you might think you are all set. Free, however, isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
You wouldn’t run a business on the free version of Turbo Tax. Likewise, it’s not a good idea to solely promote your brand with a bunch of free tools. Hiring a web design company or a digital marketing company to build and develop this part of your marketing is well worth the investment. An expert in digital marketing can help you use all of these tools together. They can also report on the results. How many people call your company based on a coffee mug with your company name on it? There is no way to really know for sure. It’s far more accurate to check open rates of your email newsletters and interact in real time with your customers’ questions via Facebook Messenger.
Making Your Website the Foundation of Your Marketing
As your 24/7 salesperson, your website can grow and become the ultimate destination for all of your marketing. The data you collect from your analytics will help you to fine-tune the information you offer on your site. How your website fits into your whole marketing plan will depend on the effort you put into development and promotion.
Want to take your digital marketing a step further? Add a blog to your website. The information you share on your blog is a great source of material for an email newsletter. An email newsletter can help position your business as knowledgeable and helpful, and may even lead your customers to share that email with others. That’s one of the ways Lieberman Technologies leverages the power of our website. Our Tech Connect newsletter goes out to 1,073 subscribers on a regular basis and covers a wide variety of tech topics. (See what we did there? That’s digital marketing.) We use analytics to evaluate how many times a particular newsletter is opened and which articles are shared. This data helps us to know what information our customers find most useful so that we can serve them better. Without our website and blog, our marketing efforts would be much less effective.