Cost, revenue and profit are the most important things that will decide the fate of a business. When money is tight you may be inclined to cut marketing costs since traditional advertising methods are so costly.
You must remember, it is imperative that every small business have a marketing plan in place. As a business owner, you need to have an organized solution on how you will reach out to and engage your customers.Following a well-developed plan will ensure you are spending funds wisely and appropriately. This article will cover some cost-effective marketing tools and tips for small businesses.
What is a Marketing Plan?
A marketing plan helps you to understand who your competitors are and your targeted market. It will help you map out your tactics for that target market and how you will stand out amongst the competition. Your budget is the most essential part of your marketing plan. This budget will help you breakdown costs of what it will take to reach your goals within a certain time period.
We have compiled a list of ten steps to help develop a marketing budget into your marketing plan:
Invest in Your Team
When you do decide to spend money, make sure you are spending it wisely. It is okay to invest in your team, after all, they are the future of your company. Finding the right contractors and training your staff to properly understand your marketing vision are crucial to the success of your business. Hiring the right personnel will help you to avoid the stress of having to micromanage every minute detail. Once you pick the right team, make sure you focus on them. Happy employees are a must.
Find Your Target Market
Sit down with your team and figure out who you are trying to reach with your marketing efforts. This will be the specific audience you are trying to attract with your products and services. These are the people you feel will have a genuine interest in buying what you are offering. It is wise to conduct in-depth market research to find them. Ask yourself:
-Who will make up your target audience?
-Where will you find this audience?
-What are their concerns?
-What are their current needs and how will you fulfill these needs?
Understand Your Sales Funnel
Your sales funnel is the steps you go through to covert prospects into customers. It is crucial that you know the shape of your sales funnel so that you may know where you need to focus your attention, time and money. If you are not familiar with this type of analysis, you should really take some time to study the theory. The most important questions your sales funnel will answer are:
-How many visitors does your site experience each month?
-How many leads are you managing to generate each month?
-How many of these leads are turning into sales opportunities?
-How many opportunities actually resulted in a sale?
Understand Your Spending Costs
Good business owners measure their profitability on a regular basis. It is very important to understand your operational costs, not just marketing, but all expenditures. Entrepreneurs must learn to manage their costs and revenue to be able to maximize their profits. Revenue can be great, but if the payout is higher, the business will show no profit. If things continue at that rate, the business will be destined for failure.
Your Budget Should Be Based on Your Goals
Always write down your goals in the business plan, this will help you stay on track and focused. Your business goals should be specific, achievable, measurable, realistic and timely. The following questions will help you determine your business goals:
-What is your reason for going into business? Money? Financial freedom? Notoriety? Retirement income?
-What are your objectives for your first year? What about your five-year plan?
-What would you like to accomplish in your first quarter?
Think of Your Advertising Costs as an Investment, Not an Expense
If done right, your marketing costs will prove to be a viable investment over time. A good business owner will recognize them as such. The goal of your marketing strategy will be to have a higher return than out of pocket costs.
Remember Your Stage of Growth
If you are in the startup phase, you need to keep this in mind and strategize marketing appropriately. When you are trying to grow your revenue quick win marketing strategies may work better. If you are in the planning phase when steady growth is desirable, a more long-term investment would be suitable.
Get a Feel for Current and Upcoming Trends
The ability to understand current while anticipating future marketing trends will prove to be greatly beneficial. You must take the time to study your audience and know what they will respond to best. Your budget should allow for traditional marketing techniques as well as the latest trends as they emerge.
Estimate Costs of Running a Communications Marketing Campaign
Estimate and determine your allotted costs for a media campaign. Know how much you would like to spend on things like direct mail, print ads, TV or radio advertisements, website banners and such. This should also include the cost for building and maintaining a website, which is a must-have in this day and age. When you come up with a figure, stick to it. You will need to come up with a way to track all of these marketing efforts once they are up and running.
Create Your Spending Plan Based on a Percentage of Your Sales
If everything works great and you are making a profit from your marketing plan, consider increasing that budget. If you see sales begin to drop, adjust your budget and reevaluate your marketing plan. This is something that will take a little time to figure out.
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