Something I often hear in conversation with small business owners is: “I know marketing is important for my business, but I’m too busy for it”. Often they start out with lots of ideas for generating new business, but fail to realise most of them due to lack of time and planning.
Sound familiar? Here’s how to make sure your marketing doesn’t play second fiddle anymore.
The existing structure of many small businesses may keep the business running, but it doesn’t allow for sustainable growth; everyone’s busy and marketing is more a sore spot, rather than a source of new clients and customers.
The first step is obvious: Get help. Dedicate part of your team to marketing by freeing up time for others, outsourcing your marketing or hiring new staff for this task.
Next, turn all those marketing ideas into well-defined, co-ordinated campaigns. This allows your marketing support to work as independently as possible and get things done without taking up precious time. Investing a day or two each year into a detailed marketing plan gives your marketing staff a precise idea of what you want to do and when, so you can get right to it without delay.
Additionally, if you discover a marketing opportunity during the year, your marketing plan makes it easy to see it it works, time-wise, and reorganise things if needed. You can also use your marketing plan to follow up on budget, cost and ROI (return on investment), which works as a model for next year’s planning.
Download my free marketing plan template, covering everything you need for your planning and performance measuring, including practical examples, and follow these 5 simple steps to create your marketing plan:
1. Make A List
Open my spreadsheet and in the first column list all the products or services you want to promote. Add a row for your more generic marketing activities, like a new website or your weekly blog. Then, add a description of your ideal client, as well as all possible offers and discounts for each product/service.
2. Time It
When do your customers and clients need what you’re offering? Write down the best and worst sales times of the year, taking into account school holidays, bank or public holidays as well as special events like exhibitions or trade shows that can help you time your marketing right.
3. Collect Ideas
It’s time to implement everything you always wanted to do but never had the time for. Write down marketing campaigns and channels you’ll use to attract new customers and clients, events you want to go to and other activities to promote your business.
Don’t forget to include dates or ideal timings, as well as the costs, and assign them to the products or services that suit them best. Avoid only promoting products or services during ‘high season’, and aim to also gain some traction during quieter times.
4. Schedule It
Fill in your planned campaigns and activities on the schedule in my marketing plan template and establish when you need to start working on each of them. For example, if you plan an advert, you need to book a publication, which in turn requires a deadline for copy and/or artwork. Work backwards from that to give you time for briefing, copywriting and design (including revisions). Fill in the spreadsheet accordingly.
5. Manage Your Resources
To be certain your planning is realistic, have a look at your resources – namely your money, work force and infrastructure. Does your budget cover all your planned marketing activities? Take into account all costs, for example copywriting and graphic design, not just the price of the advert itself.
Also take into account busy times when staff may be unavailable to contribute to your marketing, such as school holidays. Ensure that you’re able to process any new orders placed during a campaign and have logistics and customer service at the ready.
When everything is in place, use the marketing plan to brief your marketing staff and get back to work.
WANT TO READ MORE?
If you are interested in reading more about this topic, have a look at these:
The Biggest Marketing Time Sinks & How to Avoid Them
Make the Best of Your Time
How to Save Time on a Daily Basis
Tools for Your Marketing Success – Part 1