One of the things we are told to do as business owners is to create a Marketing Plan, but how do you actually go out and do this?
Generally, when you think of a marketing plan it is this boring document. This outline of industry terminology and dry numbers. Just do a Google search for a Marketing Plan Template and you will see what I mean.
By all means, these plans are necessary in some situations – like if you are seeking a bank loan, support from investors or for large corporations where you must seek board approval.
But for the everyday small business owner, it doesn’t need to be this way.
Yes, you need a plan.
But, no, it doesn’t have to conform to some boring template.
Over a series of 3 posts I will be sharing how you can prepare for the year ahead by creating a Marketing Plan that makes sense to you.
It doesn’t have to be a 20 page document. It just needs to be something that you can refer back to through the year to make sure you are on track and taking well thought out steps to strive towards your business goals.
In today’s post, we will focus on Reflecting on the year that was and what we can learn from our mistakes and our victories. It also involves having a look at the state of the market as a whole so you can discover opportunities.
Ready to get started? Pull out a pen & paper and let’s do this!
We will be looking at 4 main sections:
Numbers don’t lie, so this is the most logical place to start.
There are a few key numbers you should be tracking on a regular basis, but some are more important than others for showing what is working and what isn’t.
Of course, the number one measure of success is your Sales, so this is the first thing to look at. You probably want to dive deeper and look at sales by product or product category.
Next, you want to have a look at some of your key marketing metrics. Here is where people sometimes get caught up in the “vanity metrics”, things like followers and subscribers, but what is more important than all of that is how well each of those are converting.
Here’s a quick summary:
Next, you want to go a little deeper into your website numbers and look at:
- Where people are coming from
- What they are looking at / interested in
You can pull all of this detail out from your Google Analytics. If you are unsure how, check out this post.
Now you have all those numbers written down or in a spreadsheet. There are a two main things you want to look at to really apply this knowledge.
- What has been the change from the previous year? (if you have the data)
- Where are people dropping off in the process?
For example, are you doing really well at attracting people but unable to get them to buy? This is something you want to note as you might want to focus more effort on conversion strategies that attraction strategies.
Going a step above the numbers, you should also reflect on what marketing tactics are currently working for you and identify any current gaps.
When it comes to online marketing, there are 5 main pillars I refer to. I recommend you go through each of these and just note down anything that comes to mind on how well it has been going for you and ways in which you would like to improve.
- Social Media
- Reach / Promotions
The market is an ever changing place. Not only do we have to deal with things like trends and competition, but now we have new technologies available to us seemingly every 5 minutes.
In this section, I want you to answer a few key questions:
- What are the current trends in my industry?
- What opportunities could I capitilise on?
- What threats exist?
- Have any new competitors entered the market? And how do they differ from me?
- Have my audience’s needs changed? What has become more important to them?
- Are there any technological changes I need to adapt to?
This part is very much neglected in traditional marketing plans, but as small business owners we ARE our business. Therefore, we need to do self-checks regularly to make sure we are operating on a sustainable basis.
- How much time am I spending on my marketing each week? Is it enough? Is it manageable?
- How much money am I investing?
- What parts of marketing my business do I enjoy?
- What parts would I prefer not to do?
- Is there anything I would do differently if given the chance?
While that is a lot to reflect on, it is well worth it for the clarity and inspiration it brings.
In the next, post we will begin to look forward and envision what you want to achieve in the next 12 months.