Dec
5

Marketing for your Small Business

by Sarah Stone

What can a Marketing Plan do for Your Small Business?

A marketing plan includes everything from understanding your target market and your competitive position in that market, to how you intend to reach that market (your tactics) and differentiate yourself from your competition in order to make a sale.  Your small business marketing budget should be a component of your marketing plan. Essentially, it will outline the costs of how you are going to achieve your marketing goals within a certain timeframe. If you just don’t have the funds to hire a marketing firm or even staff a position in-house, there are resources available to guide you through the process of writing a marketing plan and developing a market budget.

 As a business owner, it is vital that you understand and use advanced technologies. Technology can help increase business efficiency and even expand operations.

Accounting software. This is important, even if you have your own accountant or bookkeeper. Accounting software allows you to see your profits and losses at a glance. It can also help you design and maintain a budget for your business. (http://www.intuit.com)

Planning software or tools. A calendar system is a must. There are many online planning systems that can be utilized to help you keep your calendar organized. Find a system that meets your business’ needs and be sure to stick with it.

Time tracking software.  A time tracking device will help you determine what tasks result in a profit and what tasks do not. This will help you determine what tasks can be eliminated, outsourced, or improved.  If you’re looking at software that requires a fee, ask for a free trial first to make sure it’s the right software for you.

Email management. As a business owner, you probably use several email accounts to manage the various aspects of your company. If you streamline these emails to one account, you’ll be able to stay organized and abreast of your emails. I would recommend looking into the services Google provides for free.

Mobile internet access. Access to the internet on your mobile device will not only make your life easier, it will also help you maintain a positive reputation for your business. For example, if you are able to follow up with a client by email immediately after a meeting, you will be showing that you are accessible, timely and professional.

Once you decide which types of technology are right for you and your business, you’ll be on your way to being more organized and efficient than ever.

Bend Your Budget When Necessary and Keep an Eye on ROI

Once you have developed your marketing budget, it doesn’t mean that it’s set in stone. There may be times when you need to throw in another unplanned marketing tactic — such as hosting an event or creating a newspaper ad — to help you reach your market more effectively.

Ultimately, it’s more important to determine whether sticking to your budget is helping you achieve your marketing goals and bringing you a return on investment (ROI) than to adhere to a rigid and fixed budget.

That’s why it’s important to include a plan for measuring your spend. Consider what impact certain marketing activities have had on your revenues during a fixed period, such as a business quarter, compared to another time period when you focused your efforts on other tactics. Consider the tactics that worked as well as those that didn’t work. You don’t have to cut the tactics that didn’t work, but you should assess whether you need to give them more time to work or whether the funds are best redirected elsewhere.

Granted, some tactics are hard to measure — such as the efficacy of print collateral (brochures, sales sheets, etc.), but you need to consider the impact of not having these branding staples in your market tool kit before you reign in your graphic design and print funds.

Marketing plans should be maintained on an annual basis, at a minimum. But if you launch a new product or service, take time to revisit your original plan or develop a separate campaign plan that you can add to your main plan as an addendum.

At the end of the day, the time spent developing your marketing plan, is time well spent because it defines how you connect  and communicate with your customers. And that’s an investment worth making.

More information:

http://www.sba.gov

At Illumination Advertising, our business is built on our relationships, communication and knowledge. This is how we grow, step by step, client by client, relationship by relationship. We promote a positive and ethical business sense and environment for both employees and clients alike. Illumination Advertising, Inc. has personality & character. We are friendly, dedicated and know our industry. We enjoy working with you, not just for you.

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