As a small business owner, setting out to create a marketing plan can be an intimidating task. But as with most daunting jobs, laying out a step-by-step plan can make even the most challenging chore more manageable. The first step in developing a solid marketing plan is to create specific marketing objectives. Namely, what do you want your marketing efforts to do for your company? Do you want to generate sales of your product or service? Or do you want to build value to attract investors? As you develop a marketing plan, here are a few objectives to keep in mind:
1. Reinforce Your Company's Values. Your company is more than the product or service you sell – it has core beliefs, or values. In your marketing campaign, be sure to identify what these values are. Consumers respond to value messages, because they are an authentic expression of what a brand believes in. Make sure you are reinforcing and building your company's core values with every piece of your marketing campaign.
2. Build Awareness. Your marketing campaign should not only be designed to achieve an immediate response from potential customers, but should also be crafted to build awareness for what your company stands for. Each marketing campaign presents a foundation to build on. Effective marketing requires reminding people about the benefits of your product or service repeatedly. This is easier when consumers already are aware of your company, your product, and your message. The right campaign can translate into both short-term benefits (sales) and long-term benefits (brand building).
3. Make Your Message Clear. By the time your company has reached the marketing stage, you probably know who your competitors are as well as who your potential customers are. Your product or service was designed to fill a void in the marketplace not currently being met by your competition. Let your customers know what you are offering and how it is different from your competitors. How does your product or service benefit a potential new consumer? Your marketing message should be clear and simple to act on so customers know exactly what makes your product unique.
4. Remember Your Brand. When you incorporate collateral pieces for your marketing campaign make sure that those pieces reflect and fit in with your overall brand. That means making sure that all your brand touch points including your brochures, business cards, and circulars, not only communicate your specific promotion, but also reinforce and convey your company's brand identity, values, and message.
5. Invest. It can be hard for a small business to decide where to spend limited financial resources. When deciding how to reach out to customers via marketing, be sure to invest at the right levels to create the highest impact and the greatest return. Not sure what that level is? A branding agency can help you do market research and determine how to reach your target audience, but this insight will require additional investment. Once you or your agency have determined your target market, focus your efforts on developing simple and smart messages that work across various media in order to generate the biggest return for your marketing dollar. Taking the time to create a marketing plan with clear objectives that remain true to your brand's values will be well worth the effort in keeping you focused as you continue to build and promote your company.
Marcos Chavez, Principal and Creative Director at TODA a New York City boutique agency that provides a multidisciplinary approach which includes brand identity, print, packaging, interactive, web, product, space and exhibit design. Watch Marcos and lead designer, Dory Pogers, give first-hand branding advice to OPEN Cardmember, Mocada Museum, in our special web series, Project RE:Brand.