With entrepreneurship, you sink or swim. Sometimes your sinking has nothing at all to do with your efforts.
Through circumstances beyond your control, you find yourself having to step away from a venture that’s no longer possible to maintain. But when starting a new small business, you are at the helm of a great new adventure.
You set the course to where you want to end up using a marketing plan. This plan will help keep you afloat during challenging times and help ensure your success over your journey.
Take an Inventory
It’s a great idea to take an inventory of what resources you have today. These resources are typically your skills, the skills of people you trust, the resources of people you trust, and your finances.
Knowing where you stand today immediately opens your eyes to possibilities. These resources will not all work out but they are a great starting point for brainstorming.
Challenge yourself and your reasons for starting a business. Do these resource points to someone who should be starting the kind of business you plan to start?
Be honest about whether your business concept is achievable at this time. You might be on the brink of more resources and need to wait a few months before getting into the game.
No matter your situation, it’s not permanent. Be honest with yourself and know that time is your friend when it comes to starting up.
The next part of creating a marketing plan is to think in terms of service. Many people say ‘think like the customer’ when they discuss this step.
Both mean the same thing. Your business isn’t about a great idea that you want to impose on others.
You’re creating or providing some service that meets their needs. Based on your research, imagine yourself as the customer of your business.
Think of your income, family status, lifestyle, and age. What do you do when you come home from work? Where do you spend the holidays?
This helps you create a customer persona. Your business might have more than one customer persona but the overall goal is to avoid saying things like ‘my business is for everyone.’
No matter how hard you try, you won’t ever be able to service everyone. Customers are somewhat like a friend circle.
You can try to be inoffensive and neutral to attract more friends, but this barely works and when it does, the friendships aren’t long lasting.
The closer you get to nailing your customer persona, the easier it’ll be to nail the marketing budget. You’ll know where to aim your resources because you understand your customer’s values.
Decide on Company Values
For you to connect authentically with customers, you need to know your values. Business values create a culture around your brand.
These values are what draw customers to you. They see your business and think ‘home.’
Avoid trying to fake values or company culture to get near the customers you want. Once your brand appears phony, it’s hard to reverse that damage.
Decide on company values that are real to you as the business owner. What do you stand for? How will you run the business?
This culture brings a tribe of customers that’ll remain loyal to you over the long run.
Find Your Place
Now that you’ve started building customer personas it’s time to price out how much it’ll take to remain visible to your audience. The cheapest form of marketing is online.
The problem is that the online ad market is heavily saturated. You have to invest heavily in your online presence to make an impact.
With online marketing, you’ll need to give yourself time to develop an authentic voice. Online marketing is about having the following items in place for your brand.
- Social media
A good content marketing strategy knocks out most of these elements in one fail swoop. For small business owners, content marketing means getting the most for your money without trying to compete with major corporations for audience attention.
You’ll quickly learn the difference between engagement and one-sided conversations online. When you can get customers to comment, like, or subscribe to your content, you’ve maximized your marketing plan.
Be modest in your first year marketing budget as you adjust to unfamiliar territory. As you get acclimated, opportunities will appear to you where it makes sense to spend or avoid.
Every Vendor is a Partner
It’s not uncommon to see small business owners treating vendors like employees. Because they pay the vendor, the boss-employee relationship sets in creating a distance that prevents a true partnership.
But vendors are just another business. They can help you along the way while you look to build relationships with new vendors.
This couldn’t be more true when you have a business to business service. Vendors have long time clients they can refer to your organization once you have a genuine relationship.
Never treat vendors like the help. Collaborate to see where you can be a resource and they’ll usually offer the same opportunity in turn.
Consistency with a Marketing Plan
No marketing plan can work without consistency. Even understanding your customers and having an amazing web presence is only relevant when it’s fresh.
Marketing is a real-time industry that reacts to current events, viral content and other marketing. This year’s top strategy will be yesterday’s news.
Find your voice so you can respond to changing market conditions with a genuine presence. As long as your major channels are active, your customers will be able to find you no matter the circumstance.
For more information and tips, visit our blog for updates.