So you’ve got a fantastic product or service, you’ve set up your pricing structure, created a website, Facebook page, Twitter account, and are just writing your marketing plan. After all, this is the primary tool you have for targeting your ideal customers.
Just because you’re a small business doesn’t mean you can afford to fly by the seat of your pants when it comes to promoting yourself. And just because you can’t afford a huge marketing budget doesn’t mean you can’t market effectively. You just need to be a little smarter about how you do it. Here are five simple steps to creating a foundational marketing plan that will help you reach the customers who care most about your business.
Creating a Mini Marketing Plan in 5 Steps
Step 1: Benchmark
Do a little market analysis. Look at your competitors and see who their audience is. It’s very easy to do this for Facebook fans and Twitter followers, and sometimes with blogs if they are on WordPress. You can get numbers from a variety of low-cost or no-cost services, and there’s always the long (free) way of doing it yourself. Determine segmentation of gender, age, race, geolocation, and anything else you can find, especially interests. If you can get psychographic info, you really have the pulse of the consumers.
Step 2: Behavior
Once you’ve got people segmented in groups, look at their behavior. Do they respond to discounts? What kind – refer-a-friend, percentage off, dollars off, etc.? Do they get into conversations with the brand reps? Do they talk amongst themselves? What about? List out all the key issues that inspire consumers to engage.
Step 3: Personas
Create customer personas based on those segments and behavior patterns. Start with two or three, and work your way up to five or more if you have a big enough audience. For example, let’s assume a given segment: women, ages 21-34, unmarried, college educated, employed, city-dwellers, HHI $35-55K. Invent a character who fits those criteria. Give her a name, an address, a personality, such as this:
Clare Taylor is 27 years old, lives in Hoboken, NJ, and has a college degree from a state school. She works in NYC at a small insurance company where she earns about $47K. She likes to eat in restaurants close to her office, attend music concerts all over the tri-state area, and take yoga classes near her home. She vacations infrequently on the West Coast, when she can get a deal on airfare. She shops for clothes at big chain retail stores, but mostly online. For groceries and toiletries, she shops close to her office and her home.
Step 4: Tailoring
The most important part of any marketing plan is the offer. Develop an offer for your prospects that addresses their needs, fears and desires. Cookie-cutter offers will not get nearly as much response and conversion as an offer that lets prospects know that you’ve thought out how best to serve them, and why your produce or service is the best option for them. Create several different offers, perhaps at various price points, to determine which offer is the most effective.
Step 5: Follow-through
A wise woman once called this the F-word of business, and she’s right! Follow-through can seem daunting and some people worry that they are pestering their customers, but when you follow up your offers with effective reminders, renewal offers, insider discounts and the like, you can transform a mere customer into an evangelist for your brand.
Image courtesy of Ivan Walsh.