Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Finding the Value in Marketing for Small Businesses

The end of the year is a great time to assess your marketing efforts for the past year and map out your plans for the new year. For small businesses this can be a struggle, especially if you don't have a Marketing Plan already in place to get you there. Since having a Marketing Plan is critical component of developing a successful Business Plan, what are some steps to put one in place?


Know Thyself

An initial consideration in developing marketing strategies is to appreciate that there are no quick fixes. Cheap and fast is the mantra of the online marketing world, but it will not satisfy your long term marketing needs.  Finding the time and money to develop an effective Marketing Plan can be an obstacle easily overcome by understanding your business' value proposition.  

A value proposition is a unique selling point that doesn't compromise quality for price. Your value proposition is the inherent, not necessarily the monetary, worth of the product or service you offer. Once you know your business' Value Proposition, your ROI (return on investment) from your marketing efforts will be all the more meaningful.

What is your business' value proposition?

Help Wanted

Assuming you don't possess the marketing know-how to do your own marketing, another important consideration is who you contract with or hire to help with your marketing.  

It may seem like a cheap solution to hire college kids or young adults to help with your marketing because they presumably possess social media "skills”, but this will only hurt the customer and ultimately your business. The young person you hire will likely lack the business acumen that will make your marketing successful.  

Unless you hire a person with experience in marketing, sales, or business development, hiring a consulting firm to develop and manage your marketing is a must.

The better marketing consultant or firm is the one that focuses on marketing and nothing else. 

Plan Ahead

A small business will benefit from having a simplified Marketing Plan. As your business grows, you can add on more marketing efforts. Initially, you will have more success in mapping out your marketing strategies by:
  • Building a Marketing Plan: even if it's just an outline, put a model into action; you can't possibly know where you're going if you don't map out the route
  • Having all of your staff contribute to marketing efforts: each of your staff members brings a different perspective to the table; if you are your only employee then this should be easy
  • Regular monitoring and analyzing: monitoring your marketing efforts can be a daily activity, but you should be reviewing and revamping your Marketing Plan as often as your Business Plan - no less than once yearly
Can you function without a formalized Marketing Plan? Yes. Will you have more success with one? Unquestionably.