What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan is the first step for small business to expand their current operations and grow. Statistically, 10% of your yearly revenue should be dedicated to marketing efforts. You can start out small and run an ad campaign for 3 months then do something different every 3 months. As time goes on and your budget and sales grow invest in advertising with greater and greater reach like programmatic marketing or radio. A marketing plan is essential for a small business owner and there are many benefits that you will enjoy when you develop and commit to an integrated approach to your business marketing that is only possible when you consistently implement the actions in your marketing plan.
Benefits of a Marketing Plan
- Clear Vision for your business: When you have a better understanding of what where you are and where you want to be, you can more readily identify the resource and skill gaps that need to be closed and develop key strategies that directly support achieving your vision.
- Focus your business: When you have developed a set of objectives that act as your business goals you are far less likely to become distracted by activities and opportunities that take you off course. As a small business owner, you are likely to have limited time and budget and that makes it all the more important to stay focused.[i]
- Relief and Accountability: Once you have your vision, objectives and strategies in place the world of business growth no longer seems as daunting. A clear plan of action is mapped out, you know your priorities and you are able to track the results of campaigns and initiatives against your goals. This allows you to continue what is working and to tweak or let go of what isn’t working for your business.[ii]
- Ability to more clearly identify the strategic alliance partners that you could collaborate with to help you achieve your marketing and business growth goals. If you own a body shop for car repairs then a partnership with a dealership could be the perfect partnership for your business. This clarity often emerges when you have a concise and focused marketing plan otherwise you might miss this potential opportunity.
How does this relate to brand awareness for small business?
A marketing plan can help small businesses narrow down what specific services and products they would like to sell. Once a business’s marketing plan is completed and analyzed then owners of small businesses have a clearer understand of what they need to do in order for the business to grow. As the business grows financially, in reputation and expands its products and services, their brand awareness will grow as well. As your brand becomes more recognizable in your community and expands outside it, small business owners will see their business grow into a medium or large business or corporation.
Let’s take a break from brand awareness for a moment and talk about brand strategy. You cannot have brand awareness with a proper brand strategy to grow it. Branding is crucial for products and services sold in large and small markets. It’s also important in B2B because it helps you stand out from your competition. Your brand strategy brings your competitive positioning to life, and works to position you as a certain “something” in the mind of your prospects and customers.
Think about successful consumer brands like Disney, Tiffany or Starbucks. You probably know what each brand represents. Now imagine that you’re competing against one of these companies. If you want to capture significant market share, start with a strong brand strategy or you may not get far.
In your industry, there may or may not be a strong B2B brand. But when you put two companies up against each other, the one that represents something valuable will have an easier time reaching, engaging, closing and retaining customers. Once you have your customer’s attention and loyalty keep working on it. Keep improving your strategy and increasing your brand awareness. Take note of what works and what doesn’t because eventually your competitors will realize they are falling behind you and will be doing their best to gain the competitive advantage.
As a small business owner you may be thinking, this is too much information, I don’t understand what these terms mean or where I am supposed to start. You do not need to worry, many millennials and business people in your community can help. Also, check out your local chamber of commerce site for seminars on different marketing workshops that focus on growing your brand through different advertising campaigns and mediums. Finally, your local business center should have a help line to answer any questions you might have.
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[i] Greford, D. (2013, July 9). The Benefits of having a Marketing Plan. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/diannaGreford/the-benefits-of-having-a-marketing-plan
[ii] Greford, D. (2013, July 9). The Benefits of having a Marketing Plan. Retrieved September 20, 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/diannaGreford/the-benefits-of-having-a-marketing-plan