This is the final episode in the current series. But I know that small businesses are still working hard everywhere. I wanted to help you in this episode by talking about marketing planning and pulling some of the threads of the series together.
In this series I’ve discussed many aspects of marketing planning and many forms of marketing. The series includes interview episodes on live events, Facebook Live, Public relations, LinkedIn, personal branding photography and websites by listening to the interviews in previous episodes. I’ve talked about marketing audits and budgets, how to find your niche and content marketing. I hope I’ve answered some the questions that small business owners have, and helped you to find more effective forms of marketing.
Marketing planning in the time of Covid
Today I wanted to talk a little bit about the essential elements of your marketing plan.
Marketing planning can be a huge deal. I’ve worked in corporates where it was a months long exercise that involved 20 people. But this is the small business world and your marketing plan needs to be brief, simple and easily adapted.
This year marketing planning has been turned on its head. So many businesses started out with a plan. Then as their shop or studio or salon has been forced to close, the business owners have had to make snap decisions. Even if you have carried on trading, we’ve had to work out how to do that with our teams all working at home, or our customers only able to talk to us online.
Marketing planning in your business
In an ideal world we would plan everything in advance. I am a planner at heart and I know in many of my episodes I have talked about planning your marketing activity. But I know it isn’t always like that and I know that writing down a marketing plan isn’t always something you have time for.
So if your process is more fluid and organic than writing the annual marketing plan, that’s fine. Successful small business owners are those who can make the most of the opportunities, react quickly to changing circumstances and make rapid changes when they need to. No one ever was successful by having the perfect marketing plan sat on the shelf!
But what I would say is that if you have a firm grasp on some of the information and the ideas that I talk about in marketing planning, you are better equipped to make those fast changes when you need to.
If you go back to episode 2, we talked about marketing audits. Your marketing audit will give you an understanding of what works in your business marketing and what doesn’t. It should help you assess what is selling well, what is profitable for your business. Those are really helpful things to know when you need to make changes.
If you’ve done this process you will also know how your existing customers are finding your business? I think this is so important whatever your business, whatever the circumstances. If you know that Instagram generates business for you, you can carry on devoting time to creating posts. But if your business actually comes from word of mouth, you are better off making time in your diary to talk to your networks and maybe engaging with them on their social media posts.
Your strengths and opportunities
I’ve also talked in this series about assessing your strengths are and what the opportunities are. I was working on this process with a client this week. Covid 19 has generated many opportunities for them to take their existing service to a whole new audience. If there are a lot of new opportunities, it’s invaluable to spend time working out if it’s an opportunity worth pursuing. In my conversation with the client we discussed the need for their service, and how easy was it to sell into that market. We came to the conclusion that some opportunities weren’t worth pursuing because of the time it would take to convince people to buy, even where there is a clear need.
Particularly in b2b marketing, even if someone needs your offer, it doesn’t mean that they are going to buy from you. You are allowed to walk away from the opportunity and go for something easier, if the opportunity is going to take a lot of hard work and time to achieve.
Your marketing plan should also reference your goals. Think about your income targets and the big steps you are planning to take to help you get there? Is it launching new products, is it focussing on a new way to get to your customers – for example ensuring everything is available to buy from your website. This is a step that many businesses have taken this year, and hats off to you if you’ve moved your whole business online. If you’ve spent the last few months reacting to changes, is now the time to stop and look again at your goals. Do you need to adjust them to suit new ways of working and new business circumstances?
Your ideal customer
I’ve talked throughout the series about identifying your ideal customer and I still maintain that this is at the heart of successful marketing. But I do acknowledge that we’ve had to be flexible this year. As our businesses have been facing new challenges, all of our customers have been doing the same.
Their priorities have changed, their financial circumstances may have changed, they may be buying different products in a in a different way and we’ve had to find new ways to talk to them and help them.
So it may be worth reflecting, now, part way through 2020, what are your customers struggling with and what are the best ways to reach them now?
Whatever you do, set your budget and keep looking at what is working.
The key to successful marketing, is to have your plan but be prepared to be flexible. Explore new approaches and keep showing up. If your customers don’t hear from you, they aren’t going to want to buy from you.
Coming up in the autumn
This is the last episode in the series. I want to say a huge thank you to all my guests on the series, and all those of you who have listened, and everyone who has given me feedback.
I am planning a series to be released in the autumn which will speak specifically to the introverted business owner. We know that to be successful as a small business owners, we need to be visible and show up regularly, but it isn’t always easy to put yourself out there as the face of your business.
I’ll be interviewing a number of guests who have a particular take on this subject. I’ll be exploring a number of marketing techniques that are particularly helpful for introverts. I want to talk in detail about blogging, about email marketing and social media. Most of all I’ll be talking about the challenges of raising your profile when you don’t want to be visible.
Marketing for introverts
I know that is a serious challenge for many of the listeners. So if you don’t want to miss the new episodes, please subscribe to the podcast. You can subscribe via Apple podcasts. Alternatively sign up to my mailing list here to be among the first to receive this new content.
The first half of the year has been crazy for small business owners. Many have been hit hard. Some have found their businesses booming. Many have taken a hard look at what they do and made rapid changes to adapt their businesses. Whatever camp you fall into we have all been working harder than ever to attract and retain our clients.
If you get chance over the summer to celebrate that you made it this far, please do! Thank you for listening.
I still have 3 slots available for small businesses to plan their content for the next quarter. Book a Power Hour and we will review what content works for you and what your focus is for the next quarter. I will create your personalised day by day content plan for the next 3 months. This service is charged at my standard Power Hour rate of £120.