When developing a marketing plan, companies, specifically small businesses, will wonder which marketing tactics they should be undertaking. This is of particular concern if they have tight budgets and minimal time and resources. I’m often asked questions such as: “If I only have time to do one thing, what should it be?” or “What can a small business with a small budget do to get their name out there and attract new customers?”
There are so many different activities that are under the category of “marketing” and could potentially be part of a marketing plan/program, even larger businesses don’t do them all. For most businesses, it doesn’t make sense to do them all, as there may be tactics that won’t achieve their goals or won’t reach their target audience (or both). Cost can often be a deal-breaker, even with a tactic that could potentially reap results. In that instance, a business needs to weigh whether the investment is worth the risk of not obtaining the desired return. Proper execution will certainly reduce that risk and guarantee better results, but you need to ensure that (more on that below).
Determining the Right Marketing Tactics
Marketing encompasses having a company website, exhibiting at trade shows, hosting webinars and other events, advertising, public relations, email campaigns, blogging, social media, content marketing, and more. Content development is itself a major undertaking and includes everything from web copy to sales collateral to “lead magnets” (high-level, high quality content that’s informative and educational and typically offered on the website via a sign-up form). Any attempt to outreach to your prospective customers is considered marketing to them, but which tactics will be the most effective?
The following is what you need to consider to determine which marketing tactics are right for your company:
- Which tactics will best help achieve my business and marketing goals?
- Do I have a full understanding of who my marketing is targeting? Have I thoroughly researched my target customer?
- (Once the above is determined) Which tactics will be most effective at reaching my target customers (or other target audiences)? In other words, which tactics use channels utilized by my target audience?
- Do I have the resources (staff, time, budget) to execute specific tactics?
Once you have answered them, you need to develop the messages that will be at the heart of your tactics. As discussed in my article, “Figuring Out What’s In It For the Customer,” message development involves identifying what makes you unique and what distinguishes you from other companies in the market that offer the same products or services. It also entails pinpointing your core values and which of those values more resonate with your target customers. From there, you can create clear statements of value pertaining to your uniqueness and what you bring to the table: your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, and your Unique Value Proposition (UVP).
There are certain marketing activities that are a must for every company (in my humble opinion). So, if you are pressed for time and resources and wondering what the bare minimum is that you should do, here it is:
A Company Website
I believe that most people get this now. Only 15 years ago, I would encounter new clients who didn’t have one and I would tell them that the first thing they would have to do before anything else was get a website. This is where your customers are going to find you, where they’ll go for information on you and where all your other marketing activities are going to drive them. All your other marketing activities will revolve around your website. The key is to have a well-designed, responsive and easy-to-navigate site that contains those carefully-crafted messages that convey your USP and UVP. The site should also be set up with SEO (search engine optimization) to ensure people find your site when doing searches on the Internet.
Social Media Presence
You should not only have a personal profile on Facebook, you should also have a business page. Same goes for LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. If there are any social networks in your industry, you should participate in those as well. In addition to having fully-developed profiles on these sites, you should be building your lists of followers, friends and contacts and posting regularly, sharing news and information that will help you build connections with your target audience. My article, “Developing a Social Strategy,” will guide you further.
Minimally, you need to have materials created on your products and services and articles drafted that convey your thought leadership and establish your credibility as an expert in your field. Ideally, you should have a blog that includes articles regularly and is promoted on your social media and through email campaigns. Your blog posts should also incorporate SEO.
Executing Tactics Properly
To be successful with their marketing tactics, companies should ensure that they, or the people they entrust to execute their marketing, know what they are doing. HOW tactics are executed is very critical to getting responses, driving traffic and generating leads. A client once had someone working on marketing projects who promoted himself as a senior marketing consultant, however he had only an advertising background. While he had some out-of-the-box ideas and the ability to write some creative copy, he had no clue about the importance of timing, ensuring the right market reach, using the right messages for each target market, integrating multiple activities and marketing to businesses versus consumers. Make sure that you think about all these things, because when it comes to your marketing tactics, it’s not only about executing the right ones, but executing them effectively.