Small businesses often struggle to develop a cohesive marketing plan... but, I would argue that they first need to develop a marketing mindset. Entrepreneurs and small business owners are underutilizing marketing which is leaving them underrepresented in their industry.
If you ask ten business owners how they define marketing, you will get ten different answers - and they are all correct! You may have different perspectives on how you view marketing initiatives but bringing them all together creates the marketing mindset.
So, why do you need marketing?
Now more than ever, brands are competing on so many levels - print, digital, video, etc. Business owners need to embrace the fact that marketing is not only how you grow your business, but also how you stay in business.
Marketing needs to be genuine!
Whether you outsource your marketing, do it completely in-house or utilize a combination of both, remember this: You can't outsource enthusiasm and you can't hire passion! Your brand messaging needs to come from a place of genuine enthusiasm, belief in your product or service and passion for the company. Finding the right team to represent your band is critical to the success of your initiatives.
3 Pillars of Marketing
In my experience, I have found that there are three essential components to any marketing plan:
Networking/Community outreach: Whether you're hosting or attending networking events or collaborating with a membership organization, it's all about relationships. Making personal connections and broadening your network naturally increases brand awareness. Never discount the power of people!
Digital Media: The digital component is integral to your marketing plan. Creating engaging social media posts (on multiple platforms), digital advertising, utilizing SEO for your website, email marketing campaigns; each one of these plays an important role in engaging with your current customers and creating awareness for prospective business.
Public Relations: Public speaking engagements allow you to convey your message to many people at the same time. One great presentation provides you with follow up content for your digital media campaigns. Not ready for public speaking? Consider writing a blog post or an article for an industry journal or other publication. Thought leadership pieces go a long way to establishing credibility and expertise while reaching a large audience.
If you can't measure it, you can't manage it!
When it comes to brand awareness and getting your message out, there is no better time than NOW. Once your plan is established, work on creating a simple campaign to test on your audience. Keep in mind that campaigns need to be monitored and adjusted accordingly. Chances are you may have to fine-tune some details such as when to send it, audience, content adjustments, etc. Every social media platform provides data and metrics that will allow you to see your progress and success rate. Email marketing platforms provide detailed metrics how how engaged your audience is with your content. Use these metrics to create additional campaigns that have content that is appreciated, shared, and commented on.
Marketing is like any other essential component of your business; sales, recruiting, financial management, etc. You need to consistently build your brand awareness and creatively share your company's message. For business leaders, embracing a marketing mindset is the tipping point for continued success.