Small business owners are constantly striving to improve their business, whether it’s to increase new sales, grow their brand awareness, or enter a new market vertical to find new clients. Marketing is a critical component to achieving these and creating a marketing strategy for your small business is the best way to approach this effectively.

While the idea of creating a marketing strategy plan can seem intimidating, they can be very simple to start.  The first step to marketing strategy creation is to identify a few key areas that you need to understand in order to create a good plan. Below are a few areas to consider.

Who is your target audience?

This can be a tough question to answer for some business owners.  For many, especially when you’re first starting out, the typical answer is that any business is good business as it brings in revenue.  Over time, it won’t take long to learn that not every client is going to be a good fit for your business.  To avoid spending a lot of time marketing to the wrong audience and attracting the wrong clients, you need to truly understand who your target audience is.  Here are some questions to ask yourself:

  • What industries are ideal for my product or service?
  • Am I targeting B2B or B2C industries?
  • What is the monthly or annual budget range my ideal client would have to spend with my company?
  • What kind of problems would my product or service be able to solve?

The more questions you can answer regarding your target audience, the better you will become at determining your ideal customer.

Who is your ideal client?

Once you have a fairly good idea of who your target audience is, it’s time to sharpen your pencil and really decide who your ideal client is. This means getting into specifics as to what a “dream client” would be. Many business owners skip this step if they’ve already determined their target audience, but doing that will not give you a clear picture. For example, say you’re a custom closet builder who serves all of Arizona. Looking at your target audience you determine:

  • The target audience is homeowners
  • You’re targeting B2C, not B2B (no businesses)
  • You want a project between $2,000 – $10,000
  • You want a homeowner who is looking for a more organized closet

That is your target audience. Now take as step back and picture what an ideal client would be:

  • Homeowners with multiple closets in need of redesign
  • $5,000+ in project work
  • New build location to increase chances of multiple customers in the same area
  • Homes in the Phoenix metro area

A target audience is a group or demographic you’re going after. With an ideal client, you can visualize the individual. They become a persona. As a matter of fact, many marketers create buyer personas to better understand their ideal client.

Who are your top competitors?

Another step in creating a marketing strategy is knowing your competitors. While no one may do exactly what you do, other companies may be similar enough to take away customers that could potentially be yours.  Which companies are attracting clients who could be a good fit for your product or service? Some small businesses have fierce competition and can immediately say who their competitors are, but it’s not always clear depending on your industry. Consider these to help understand who your competitors are:

  • Which companies offer the same products are services as you? These are your direct competitors.
  • Which companies offers products or services that could be an alternative to what you offer? These are your indirect competitors.

Competitors can be any company who you lost business to when trying to acquire new business.  They could be anyone who is enticing traffic to their website over your website, even if you don’t feel they can compete with you directly. Your potential clients may think they do!

What is your unique value proposition (UVP)?

This might also be called your unique selling proposition (USP). What makes your product or service unique?  When going through this exercise, don’t list all the features of your products or services; what makes you unique is going to be the benefits of your business.  Benefits speak to your clients; they are what speaks to the needs or problems that your customers have.  What makes your small business offerings unique to customers?  Establishing a persuasive UVP is going to go a long way in creating a marketing strategy that will help your business.

These are solid first steps in establishing a marketing strategy for your small business. If you’re unsure where to begin, reach out to the Business Mentor Team to get help with a marketing strategy and ongoing marketing execution. They can provide the guidance you need to help your small business succeed.

Contributed by Patty Hughes, Strategic Marketing Services