Avery T. Phillips is a freelance human being with too much to say. She loves nature and examining human interactions with the world. Comment or tweet her with any questions or suggestions.
A primary component to keeping your business from becoming archaic within the ever-evolving, modern marketplace is to consistently and productively analyze your marketing so that you can ensure your strategy is as fleshed out, and as robust as possible.
It's important to recognize that even if you quickly create a solid marketing strategy that strategy will soon become outdated. Today’s perfect new market strategy is tomorrow's outdated plan. But as a small business owner, you can make sure that doesn't happen by analyzing your marketing in a smart, consistent manner that ensures your strategy works for you and that you see actual results.
1. Craft a Situation Analysis
If you are a small business owner, you likely have done a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis for your small business, and if you haven’t, you should immediately. While a SWOT overview is vital for the health and wealth of a small business, it is also immensely helpful to conduct a situation analysis that provides a succinct overview of your SWOT.
Doing this means that everything is more digestible and applicable, and it creates a more compact vision to structure the framework with which your business operates within.
Things that you want to overview in your situation analysis:
- SWOT characteristics
- External opportunities to capitalize on
- External threats
- Possible ways to position your product by 1) recognizing your product’s distinguishing features and 2) deciding who is most likely to buy your product
Following these steps will allow you to define your company, your product, and the qualities that distinguish them from the rest of the market.
2. Plan your goals
The small businesses that succeed are the ones that have the long-haul in mind during everything. Businesses don’t last if they haven’t been shaped by carefully and thoughtfully constructed goals. Those goals should be listed out, and you should strive to create a plan to achieve them. If your marketing isn’t goal oriented, it isn’t success oriented either.
What do you want your marketing to do for you, and how can you get there? Are you hoping to see an increase in sales over a specific amount of time? Are you working to build brand awareness? Whatever it is you’re hoping to achieve via your marketing, this is where it needs to outline.
John Hall writes for Forbes, “Content marketing is meant to educate, entertain, and provoke questions. It’s the next level of advertising, but what’s different is that readers actually want and enjoy this type of marketing — if done right. If you understand and align your content with the right goals, it can breathe new life into your marketing efforts and create genuine connections with your customers.”
It’s unlikely there’s something more impactful than being able to make that connection with your current and potential customers.
3. Use the Resources You Have
One of the most important and relevant resources for the modern business owner is capitalizing on data, especially social data. Social data represents the numbers that will allow your strategy to actually produce results. Social data clarifies key performance indicators.
The business data analytic experts at Maryville University offers this list of six key traits for assessing how your business is doing:
- Aligned – KPIs should be aligned to the strategic goals and objectives of the company.
- Attainable – KPIs used should reference data that can be easily obtained.
- Acute – KPIs need to keep everyone involved on the same page and moving toward the same goal.
- Accurate – KPI data should be reliable.
- Actionable – Does the insight provided by the KPI refer to an actionable situation.
- Alive – KPIs need to be free to evolve along with the changing landscape of the company.
4. Know Your Target Audience
One of the fundamental pillars of building a successful marketing strategy is knowing exactly who your marketing is supposed to be reaching and why they should care about the products or services that your company provides.
According to digital audience expert Taylor Litle, “This could include geographic location, gender, race, or age. With this in mind, you must determine what is relevant to your audience, and how your products or services can meet their needs.”
That’s the foundation with which you can build a strategy that will kickstart your marketing. Beyond the most fundamental understanding of who your audience is, you also need to have an overarching comprehension of:
- The desires and/or needs they have that your company can meet.
- The kinds of things that they will interpret as disingenuous or inauthentic.
- Those that they do
Knowing these things about your customers is non-negotiable for a thriving business; no one accidentally excels without this piece of the puzzle. If your marketing isn’t based around these key tenants, then it’s imperative to reorient. And beyond what you know about your target audience, it’s important to understand the market your business is a part of.
This isn’t just about being people or consumer-pleasers, either. The only sustainable way to connect with people is by consistently being a business that makes integrity a core value. Look at how others are failing to do so, and how they lack transparency; what can you learn from both competitors who are doing well and those who are failing?
5. Specify Your Budget
As Suzanne Kearns lays out, there are two primary things that have to happen so that you can properly assess the portion of your overall budget that you’re diverting to your marketing. First, you need to make sure you have money set apart specifically for your marketing, and second, you need to decide what method you want to use to create and maintain the marketing budget.
For the small business or startup, the best method will likely be diverting a portion of your sales to the effort. As your business continues to grow, the options grow as well; for the well-established business, the options include being able to match a competitor’s marketing, move for move.
Understanding the value of a solid marketing campaign inevitably means that you’re going to divert a percentage of your profit to the essentials like branding, advertising, content, events, and social media.
Having the best possible strategy for your business is a result of carefully understanding how to utilize your marketing strategy. Every business has strengths that should be bolstered, and weaknesses that should be recognized and dealt with.
Recognizing that reality is just the beginning; it’s important to also understand that the aforementioned tenants need to be revisited on a consistent basis so that your company is always able to remain viable and progressive. Your current strategy should always be seen in the light of the future goals you have for your company.
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