Posted: Wed 25th Jan 2023
If you're looking to build your brand and drive awareness of your business, products or services, you'll need to do some marketing. This is essential if you want to find new customers and make people aware of what you can offer them.
For small businesses, marketing can be daunting, so we've created a step-by-step guide to help you create a marketing plan and achieve your goals.
Why marketing is important for building your business
"Without marketing, you're the world's best kept secret! How will your dream customers know you can solve their problems if they don't even know you exist?!"
And she's right. You can't expect customers to find your business by chance or stumble across your product if you don't put your name out there. And, even if they do find you, you're not going to get many customers that way.
Marketing is the best way to show potential customers who you are and what you can offer them. It's a chance to showcase your brand and personality, as well as your products and services.
But to get the most from your marketing and reach your target audience, you need a plan.
How a marketing plan can help you achieve your goals
Most importantly though, it will allow you to execute your goals. You should know what you want to achieve and create a plan to get you there. Sarah Edwards also has some thoughts on this:
"Be clear on your goals and objectives – where do you want the business to be in the next 12 months? From here you can turn your attention to marketing and start to understand what your plan needs to look like to support these goals."
This lets you focus your efforts in the right places. For example, are you trying to build brand awareness, generate new leads or simply shift your product? Your marketing plan should be tailored to your goals, as well as where customers are in their journey – also known as the marketing funnel.
Understanding the marketing funnel
Marketing funnels help us to better understand what we should be communicating to our customers and when. It's formed of three sections: top, middle and bottom of the funnel. Each of these requires a different marketing approach and can be broken down further into various stages of the customer journey:
Customers are searching for information or a solution to their "problem". Marketing should focus on building awareness of your brand and products or services as a potential solution.
2. Engagement or interest
This is where customers begin to engage and are learning about the products or services you offer. Consequently, your marketing should focus on your proposition and how you can solve their problem.
Customers have done their research and are evaluating options before making a decision. This is where you need to communicate the "why" – what's your point-of-difference, what value can you offer and why should they choose your product or service over a competitor's?
Customers make their decision and are ready to invest. At this stage, it's important that your call-to-action is really clear – make it as easy as possible for the customer to convert.
5. Loyalty and advocacy
Marketing doesn't stop after conversion. Once customers have engaged with you and made a purchase, you want to retain them. Focus on providing added value – for example, promoting complementary services or sharing a blog on how to look after their new product.
The bottom of the funnel is just as important as the top, especially since existing customers are more likely to convert.
How should you approach creating a marketing plan?
When creating your first marketing plan, there are several things to consider. We've broken it down into some of the key steps to help get you started.
Prioritise key messages
What's the main thing you want to communicate to your customers? Establish your key messages for each stage of the funnel and don't try to say too much, or you'll end up saying not much at all!
Know your audience
Think about your customer personas and who would make use of your products or services. It's more effective to target a specific audience and meet their needs, rather than trying to be everything to everyone.
Identify your touchpoints
Knowing when you're going to communicate and interact with your customers is crucial. Having a marketing plan will help you target the right people with the right message at the right time.
Identify your key customer touchpoints and when people are most likely to engage with you. Some examples include social media, email or on your website.
While you might have slightly different messages at various stages of the customer journey, it's important to maintain brand consistency across all your touchpoints. This helps to build awareness and trust.
Consider the whole customer journey
When creating your marketing plan, look at the whole customer journey from start to finish and break it down.
Sarah Edwards advises businesses to start with the end in mind and know what success looks like:
"How will you take those who are completely oblivious that you exist and convert them into raving fans?"
Think about what you want customers to do at each touchpoint in order to move down the funnel. This will help you decide what messages to deliver when.
Invest in content
We've mentioned a few areas of content marketing, which should go hand in hand with your marketing plan. Content marketing provides customers with added value and helps sell your products or services.
You should build content into your marketing plan to drive brand awareness and build trust. You can learn more about this in our guide to building a successful content strategy.
Creating content can be daunting if you don't have experience in this area, but there are plenty of free tools out there to help you create on-brand, visually appealing content.
Adobe Express is a photo and design app that offers you a way to create unique designs and templates for your brand. There are thousands of templates, design assets and stock photos to choose from, and it's completely free.