create a marketing strategy for a small business

How to Create a Marketing Strategy for a Small Business

According to a study of US small businesses, 50% of them are operating with no marketing plan. There are no comparable Canadian stats that I could find, but I suspect it’s similar. That means that one out of every two small businesses has no plan for how they will grow their business, which could explain why 60% of small businesses fail within their first three years and many more never realize their potential.

Consistent growth rarely happens by accident and in this blog we’re going to show how to create a marketing strategy for a small business so you can avoid becoming a statistic.

Always Start with Strategy

This probably sounds a little strange to say always start with strategy when creating a marketing strategy for a small business, but here me out.

Too often, when companies think about creating a marketing strategy, they tend to start to cobble together a bunch of tactics.

  • I need to run Facebook ads
  • I need to find a way to get more leads from social media
  • I have to redesign my website
  • I should be on LinkedIn

Maybe. But none of those, or even all of those together is a strategy. And throwing money at a series of tactics that you read about, or someone recommended, is a sure-fire way to waste money.

Know Your Target

When you set out to create a marketing strategy for a small business, the first thing you need to know is where you are and where you are going. This means having targets you measure your progress against.

Your targets may be revenue based. Or you may be trying to grow into a new market. Or increase profitability. Whatever it is, be sure you quantify it, have a target, and know how you will measure progress.

If profitability is your goal, or how you’ll measure progress towards your goal, the Ultimate Small Business Profitability Checklist provides details on how to calculate five key indicators of profitability to help. You can download it here.

Find Your Ideal Customer

Most small businesses are built to perfectly serve a fairly narrow type of customer. Trying to attract and serve too broad of a market can actually hurt a business sometimes. That’s why it’s so important to define your ideal client as you create a marketing strategy for a small business.

  • Identify your most profitable customers (see the Ultimate Small Business Profitability Checklist for some tips on analyzing that)
  • From that group, identify the ones who refer you the most business
  • Take that group and try to identify some common characteristics (demographic and psychographic)
  • Use that list of common characteristics to create what’s called in marketing a “customer persona”; a profile of your ideal customer

Find Your Unique Value Proposition

Once you have a list of your current ideal customers it’s time to talk to them and find out why they chose you. Get on the phone and call them up. Ask them what they like about doing business with you. Why they chose you over all the other options they had.

If you collect testimonials and online reviews, also review those. What you’re looking for in all of this are common themes that show what your customers think makes you stand out. Be aware, this is often different from what you think it is.

Use what you find to develop some bullet point key messages that represent why they chose you/why someone like them should choose you.

Map the buyer’s journey

The next step to create a marketing strategy for a small business is to map out all the ways you might come into contact with your ideal customer as they progress through their buyer’s journey.

Everyone who has ever purchased from you has gone through a journey. They went from knowing nothing about you, to knowing you exist, acknowledging you might be able to solve their problem, to trusting you, to making a purchase. Hopefully, they then went on to re-purchase and refer you to others as well.

Take those stages and do a little brainstorming about how you might show up to people at those various stages. Here are some examples:

  • Getting to know you – search engines, ads, referrals
  • Trusting you – testimonials, reviews, blogs, discovery calls
  • Purchasing – sales people, website, physical store
  • Repeat purchase – email reminders, mailers, subscriptions
  • Referrals – referral cards, email, champion programs

You can even work some questions about this into your customer interviews you may be doing to help define your ideal customer profile.

Putting It All Together

The final step to create a marketing strategy for a small business is to put all these pieces together. By now you have:

  • A profile of your ideal customer
  • Your core message or unique value proposition that speaks to this person
  • The channels and platforms where you need to show up to reach your ideal customer

Now your task is to put it together.

If your ideal customer is most likely to get to know about you through a Google search, make sure you have optimized your website to show up for what they are searching for and that your page clearly communicates your value proposition in their language.

If reviews are important for them to trust you, put a plan in place to get more reviews and publish them where your prospects will see them.

If referrals are how people find you, focus on a referral program for both customers and strategic partners.

The tactics almost find themselves once you have the core strategic elements sorted out.

If you’d like someone to bounce some ideas off while you create a marketing strategy for a small business, book a consultation (or if you’re a customer, give us a call). We’ve worked with dozens of businesses and not-for-profits to better define their growth strategy and we’d love to help you.

Avisar Chartered Professional Accountant’s blog deals with a number of complex issues in a concise manner; it is recommended that accounting, legal or other appropriate professional advice should be sought before acting upon any of the information contained therein.

Although every reasonable effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information contained in this post, no individual or organization involved in either the preparation or distribution of this post accepts any contractual, tortious, or any other form of liability for its contents or for any consequences arising from its use.