Does Your Small Business Need a Marketing Strategy or a Marketing Plan?
Spoiler alert: To be successful, a small business needs a marketing plan and a marketing strategy.
Your marketing strategy informs your marketing plan.
What is a Marketing Strategy?
The strategy is your overall process for reaching your business’ key prospects and turning them into customers. A solid marketing strategy is focused on the company’s value proposition, on-brand messaging, customer demographic information, and other elements such as your products, pricing, placement, and promotion.
A marketing strategy contains the company’s value proposition, key brand messaging, data on target customer demographics, and other high-level elements.
A marketing plan is just the mix of marketing activities your business will engage in to reach target audiences and set a timeline for promoting certain products or services throughout the year.
Your Black Friday sale is part of your marketing plan, but the core offers and messaging around the deals and discounts is the marketing strategy.
Considering that strategy is what drives the plan, it’s important to understand some of the key considerations that go into an effective small business marketing strategy.
8 Key Factors That Affect a Business Marketing Strategy
- Keyword Research is Fundamental
Before you do anything, you must have a keyword plan for your small business.
Good keyword research is the most important component of your entire marketing strategy because it is the foundation of everything you do online from web content to social media posts.
It’s important to target the right keywords so you attract the right kinds of customers to your business.
The goal is always to find keywords with high search volume and mid to low competition to bring the right people to your website. You can uncover some of the best keywords for ranking potential by thinking of the customer journey. What are people looking for when they search for a product or service like the one you offer?
Think of your keywords like a funnel: the broader the term, the higher the competition and the more education that person may need before they are ready to buy. Educational content around your products, like demonstrations, are great for informing customers and to increase engagement and excitement around the possible transformation they can get from buying what you sell.
As you get more specific, at the narrow neck of the funnel, search volume and competition drop off and you have potential customers who are more aware of what they need and are closer to making a purchase
Once you have your keywords planned, you’ll use these words and phrases to develop your content online.
- Focus on Branding to Build Trust and Create Opportunity
If you are the face of your business, you’ll want to put some effort into creating a brand around yourself. An engaging, successful entrepreneur at the helm opens doors to networking, forming partnerships, and growing your influence either in your local community or online.
People like to do business with people, and you can get a lot of momentum by serving as the face of your business.
If your business isn’t a personal or service-based business, a business based branding campaign should be sufficient.
Social media is an excellent way to grow a loyal and engaged following and share an authentic or curated vision of you or your business. Make sure your brand messaging will resonate with and attract your ideal customers.
Building brand awareness can take a significant amount of time but it pays dividends in reducing marketing costs in the long run.
- Content Marketing Contributes to Business Growth
Depending on your business and revenue goals, your content marketing could look like a lot of different things. If you’re looking to build a list of interested prospects, you may create digital downloads or white papers.
Maybe you offer products and services that would benefit from demonstration style videos. Your ideal customers could be looking for tips or advice you could share in blog, vlogs, or articles.
Think about the overall customer journey for your business. A good marketing strategy covers content creation from before someone is a customer right through help and troubleshooting after a purchase.
These days, customers expect to be able to find and consume information about you, your brand or business, and your products and services online. They may do quite a bit of research into your offers before they ever take buying action or visit your brick and mortar storefront.
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Builds On Content Creation
While quite a bit of search engine optimization comes from the technical aspects of your small business website it’s important to have SEO playing a major role in your small business marketing strategy.
By creating content around a keyword plan that makes your site more visible in search results (SERP) you’ll get more online traffic from people searching for the products or services you offer.
Your search ranking will benefit from your content marketing plan. The targeted repetition of your value proposition in every piece of content you produce helps increase your search engine visibility.
If you have an online store or e-commerce section on your website, product pages should all be optimized for search engines as well. The more pages you index, the more of a boost your small business will achieve.
- Conversion Optimization Turns Website Visitors into Customers
Just like SEO needs to be a consideration in your marketing strategy, conversion optimization is what increases the chances that website visitors will become customers.
With SEO it might seem that just getting traffic is the goal, but the reality is, your website exists to generate opportunities to grow your revenue.
You want your site and product pages to provide a specific user experience that is designed to provide visitors the information they are looking for but you also want to have clear methods to contact you, share reviews and testimonials, and multimedia content to drive higher conversion rates.
Provide website visitors with many ways to interact with your site and, in turn, to give you ways to “stay in touch” and position your business to be their first choice when it comes time to be a buyer.
- Social Media Still Matters for Small Businesses
It’s easy – and free – to get started on social media. It isn’t a get rich quick scheme, but with a strategy and a plan, you can see lots of benefits from being present on social media these days.
You can create a Facebook page, or Twitter profile, or even an Instagram account for your business. Don’t spread yourself (or your message) too thin by getting on every platform if your ideal customers aren’t using certain social networks.
Think about the goals you want to achieve and how much time you can reasonably invest in maintaining your profiles.
If you don’t have a plan to engage your followers on social media you won’t be able to measure if you’re getting positive ROI (return on investment) from the time spent.
Pro tip: Having a social media calendar might sound a little too inflexible, but as a busy business owner you don’t have the bandwidth to be in creative mode every single time you hop on social media. Also, having a social media calendar in place helps you cover your most important topics and share your promotions while keeping a good mix between informing, entertaining, promoting, and selling. That’s how a strategy and a plan come together.
Content plays a heavy role in social media success, and you can’t discount the boost you get from greater brand awareness and the potential for inbound customers and the sales social media can produce.
- Voice Search is Getting Bigger Each Year
Voice searches change the way people seek information online and savvy small business owners will be wise to keep their eye on how it affects inquiries, content, and related ads.
A typical typed inquiry like “bakery near me” sounds a whole lot different.
People interact with voice assistants conversationally.
“Hey Siri, help me find a birthday cake in Hillcrest.”
To position your business to capture voice searches, make sure that answering questions is part of your content strategy.
People who use voice enabled search assistants are actively looking to buy. And you want to be the option that comes up when they search.
Pro tip: If paid ads are part of your marketing strategy, geo-fencing can deliver pertinent ads to mobile devices and tablet users when they enter a predetermined area near your small business. A geo-fence allows you to capitalize on what Google refers to as intent-rich micro moments.
When a mobile device user makes a location-based query – maybe by speaking into their phone while they’re strolling the neighborhood – your geo fence can be set up to deliver a highly targeted and relevant ad that will attract customers who are nearby.
- Make Video a Vital Part of Your Marketing Plan
Every social network is prioritizing video these days. As a result, video is getting better reach and of course, better reach drives better engagement.
Everyone is making videos these days and making the right videos can help attract and retain customers.
Quick Tips to Get the Most Engagement from Videos
- Create for the platform. While landscape is best for websites, on social media keep it vertical. Vertical video renders better on phones. Most content is being consumed on phones and tablets these days.
- Add captions. A lot of people are consuming video on the sly. Give them the opportunity to read along and get your message.
- Selfie videos are fine in most cases. Save high-production values for more permanent, evergreen videos. People don’t discredit the value of user generated content these days. They like the spontaneous feel of phone videos.
Always make sure that sound and lighting are good, but you don’t need a studio to make great video content these days. A remote video editor can turn your user generated content into evergreen digital assets that you can use everywhere, including pay per click (PPC) advertising.
Keep your eyes open for opportunities to make and share video content that advances your marketing strategy and that fits into your marketing plan.
Small Business Marketing Strategies
No marketing strategy will be effective if you design it without a clear understanding of who buys the products and services you offer and why they buy them. Understanding your customer’s journey will help you craft effective core messages and build a brand that resonates with potential buyers.
By creating a customer focused marketing strategy and complementary plan, you create a sustainable advantage over your competitors.
Neither your strategy nor your plan will be able to run without some ongoing input from you, though.
Once you see how you are ranking with search engines and how your content is resonating with potential customers, you may have to do a little tweaking and adjusting. If your business goals may change, your strategy and plan will need to change as well.
If after taking an honest assessment of your marketing strategy and plan, you feel like you may benefit from chatting with a digital marketing strategist, make that investment in your business.