Starting a business is not just introducing a product or service. It takes strategic thinking, planning, and a continuing effort to gain and retain loyal users.
And to do this successfully, all businesses need an ongoing marketing strategy to remain competitive.
Marketing is key to generating leads and converting them into sales to sustain your business. As such, you must give time to your marketing plan to ensure it’s geared toward your business objectives. But how do you set up an effective marketing plan? Here are seven essential things to include.
1. MARKET RESEARCH
Market research is the backbone of every marketing plan. You may administer it through surveys or focus group discussions. Or you may also analyse data from existing studies.
Market research is beneficial, especially if you’re a budding business. For one, it helps you identify the gaps between what other businesses offer and the client’s needs. From these insights, you can improve your products or services to present a unique offering that potential clients will find valuable.
Aside from this, market research provides an understanding of market trends and buying habits to help you make informed decisions and guide your plans and strategies.
2. BUYER PERSONA
You must ensure your messages are received by the right people interested in your offering, potentially leading to a sale.
Be specific when identifying your target market or buyer persona. Create a semi-fictional character based on your ideal client’s demographics, interests, needs, and challenges. You may hire a marketing agency to help classify the market segment suited to your offering.
Let your whole team know who your ideal client is, especially the marketing and sales teams. This ensures that your marketing efforts are targeted toward the right people you’d like to do business with, especially if your services cater to a specific niche.
3. VALUE PROPOSITION
Other businesses may offer the same products or services you have. That’s why it’s important to highlight your value proposition or what makes you better than other brands.
Aside from helping you stand out, your value proposition should answer the following questions:
- Why should clients choose you from all the other brands that offer the same products or services?
- Is your offer more affordable than your competitors’?
- Do your products and services have unique features that only your business has?
You must ensure this is communicated consistently on all your marketing channels, whether on your website, social media, or even client presentations. Doing so aids in maintaining your branding and helps potential clients remember your business.
4. MARKETING OBJECTIVES
It is crucial to establish clear objectives to effectively guide your marketing strategies during the planning phase. These objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) to ensure they align with your business goals.
For instance, setting a goal to increase leads by a certain percentage by the end of a specific quarter with a realistic figure to measure progress can be an effective way to ensure that your marketing objectives are well-defined. As a startup, your initial focus may be on increasing brand awareness and customer acquisition.
You may explore different marketing channels and tactics depending on your goals. Here are some strategies you may want to consider.
- Content Marketing: A blog on your website is good for producing high-quality content that potential clients will find valuable. Doing so helps build your credibility and can support lead generation. Aside from this, a blog is also helpful for search engine optimization (SEO). SEO helps put your website on the front page of search engine results. Optimization can be done using the right keywords that your target customers use. So, when they search for your products or services online, they’ll likely see your website and check what you can offer.
- Social Media Marketing: Your social media presence can help build brand awareness. Creating a business page is free, but you may set up paid ads to reach your intended audience if you want more visibility. You don’t have to be present on all social media sites. Just choose the platform where you think your target market is. For example, if your model is business-to-business (B2B), you can try LinkedIn, as it’s built for professionals.
- Influencer Marketing: You may tap ‘influencers’ or people with strong social media following to promote your brand. Give them free items or services to try and ask them to share their experience with their followers.
You can explore other approaches, such as attending trade shows or distributing flyers and brochures. You may also mix strategies and see what works for you.
Consider how much you want to allot to promotional expenses, like advertising. Your budget must be lower than your return on investment (ROI). When you plan to get a 50% rise in sales, you must account for how much that increase is. So, if that means earning USD$5,000 more, set a budget lower than that amount.
As previously stated, your objectives should be measurable. So, you must have key performance indicators (KPIs) to assess whether your plans and strategies meet your goals. It’s good practice to track leads and conversions. This way, you can modify your strategies to improve them and achieve your objectives.
Running a startup can be daunting, especially if there are a lot of established competitors. But, with an effective marketing plan, you can still guide your business to success. Ensure you base your strategies on useful market data and knowledge so you can design creative ways to introduce your brand.
Don’t hesitate to explore different marketing channels. This way, you can find the strategy that works for your business. Lastly, ensure you consistently check your progress to adjust your strategy when needed. Doing so helps ensure no budget is wasted and everything is directed to achieve business success.