How Small Businesses Can Succeed In 2020
While bringing value to consumers through solid products/offerings is important, companies do not have to have the best to outperform competing brands. The fact of the matter is, the best U.S. brands don’t always have the best offerings, but rather an unmatched ability to implement effective marketing. For smaller brands, this simply means marketing effectively is a must.
Now the question becomes, is your company postured to market effectively? With so many marketing options to choose from (e.g. 100+ marketing channels, thousands of marketing platforms to assist marketers, and the increasing number of marketing consultants/agencies), there is a lot of confusion when making marketing decisions. Couple these options with the ever-increasing amount of information available to consumers/end-users for smart shopping, companies can no longer afford to slack in marketing.
As companies gear up for 2020, how will they ensure they are postured for marketing success? How will they stack up against the competition? If these companies are not leveraging a holistic, integrated marketing system, chances are 2020 will look grim. No longer should companies be one-hit wonders, relying on one marketing activity (e.g. social media, networking, word of mouth, etc.), but rather leveraging multiple marketing activities under one comprehensive marketing strategy. Considering most companies are not proficient in doing this, we have highlighted eight critical marketing tips that companies should consider using to build a solid marketing infrastructure for marketing success in 2020.
1. Establish Your Goals. There is nothing more frustrating and wasteful than traveling with no clear destination. While this may be every retired person’s dream, it doesn’t work well for businesses seeking growth. So, it is important that you visualize where you want to be and determine your overarching marketing goal.
- One good starting place is to review your company goals and ensure your marketing goals align and truly supports the overarching vision.
- Clearly define the end state and when it is to be accomplished. You could approach this by asking one simple question, what do I want my marketing efforts to accomplish over the next 3 years? It is always interesting to hear people’s dreams, but witness them struggle to quantify them into meaningful goals. That’s because goal setting is not as easy as it may seem.
- Your goals should be well-thought out and crafted in a manner that drives momentum. One method for ensuring this is to make the goals SMART, which simply means Specific Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timed. Applying this will help ensure your goals are properly crafted.
2. Establish Specific Targets/Milestones. Within this step lies an even bigger challenge for many smaller businesses. They have an ideal destination, but haven’t defined what is required to get there. So, as you identify your marketing goal(s), please ensure you establish critical targets and milestones that will serve as your roadmap reach your end-state.
- Secondly, it is time for you to determine who your ideal target audience is, which has proven to be extremely challenging for many businesses. The number one thing we hear as we work with small businesses is, “We Sale to Everybody”. No, No, No, and No, this is a clear sign that you have not identified your target audience(s). If large, successful companies have taken the time to identify their target audience(s), Small Businesses should too.
- In addition to identifying who your target audience(s) is, it is equally important to understand “Why” that particular audience was chosen. If you can’t answer why based on a known market need or desire, you may want to refocus and align your products/services to the appropriate audience.
- Next, is to determine how much of your target audience do you need to reach in order to meet your targets and ultimate goals. You should consider having this figure broken down weekly, monthly, and annually, so that you will have a baseline to ensure you remain on track.
- Finally, one of the most challenging things is to determine what marketing channels your company should use to best reach your target audience. This should not be a speculation. Consider how much companies spend on marketing and media channels annually. If you go in blind with these selections, you can waste a lot of money. To do this successfully, you really need to do your research, which we’ll cover in tip #4.
3. Conduct a Marketing Assessment. After you have determined your marketing goals and what it will take to reach those goals, you need to take a marketing assessment to ensure marketing preparedness and expose your existing marketing blind spots. What you don’t know can and very much will hurt you. Having the insights from an objective marketing assessment will strengthen your marketing infrastructure and posture you for success.
It is important to have a clear picture of your company’s information gaps, which is another purpose of the assessment. Filling these gaps gives you the data and intelligence that will enable effective marketing. Before you can fill the gaps, you must know where the gaps lie. This is where the marketing assessment will give you so much value. Take your free marketing assessment today.
4. Conduct Marketing Research. With clarity from your marketing assessment, now you need to “DO YOUR RESEARCH”. Knowledge is power and behind every great marketing campaign is access to the right data, insights, and institutional knowledge (in short, Knowledge, Knowledge, and more Knowledge) that’s necessary to guide all marketing decisions.
Most small businesses struggle tremendously with marketing research and even more struggle with recognizing that they should do it. Every company needs marketing research. If you are struggling with this statement, consider for the following:
1. What’s the number one thing you wish you knew about those you want to do business with?
2. Why are customers buying from your competition?
3. What is stopping your existing customer(s) from switching to your competition?
4. What is your brand awareness in the market?
5. What are the best advertising channels to reach your ideal customer(s)?
Were you able to answer these questions; and if so, were the answers you provided based on an assumption or validated information? If you struggled with the answers above, you need marketing research; otherwise, your marketing dollars are at risk. One of the worse things you can do in marketing is assume/guess, but we all do it or have done it before.
Don’t assume/guess, get the information. To help you get started, download our free marketing intelligence eBook. This eBook will layout key steps you should consider in conducting your research.
5. Develop Your Consumer Journey Model. One thing is for certain, rarely will consumers or businesses make a purchase the first time they experience your company. Since purchase behavior doesn’t typically happen that way, you must consider how consumers will experience and digest your brand. An effective marketer maps out the consumer journey which consists of the following life-cycle phases:
- Awareness – All marketing channels/efforts that reach the consumers to create awareness.
- How will you create awareness for your brand? What channels will you use?
- Consideration – Items/efforts to maintain attention and make consumers interested.
- Conversion – Items/efforts used when consumer makes decision to purchase.
- Retention – The things/items that make life-long and/or repeat customers.
After considering these life-cycle phases, you should categorize them into the following:
Your framework should look like this:
Now that we are done with the fundamentals, let’s consider the reality for most small businesses which is a limited marketing budget and time to execute everything that fits within the consumer journey model. Because of this, small business should prioritize effectively. Below are a few items to consider when prioritizing:
- Cost implications – How much can you actually afford to allocate toward your marketing efforts?
- Immediate Impact – What is the projected return on investment for each effort?
- Priority Target Audience – Which audience(s) will give you the best chances of sales and have the highest value?
Of course there are more things to consider, but these have helped narrow down our clients’ robust list. Once you have a finalized list within each category, the question then becomes how are your channels and marketing efforts connected to achieving your ultimate goal? Creating a map that shows these interrelationships will help maximize each activity. The following illustration is just an example of this mapping:
6. Plan Your Resources. Now that the overall framework is created and you know what is needed, it’s time to plan out how you will get it all done. Planning your resources ensures that the appropriate resources are available at the appropriate time to ensure things get done. While this may make you feel a little overwhelmed, it is completely necessary to ensure your marketing gains the appropriate momentum. During this phase you will be laying out the following:
- What to execute (e.g. digital marketing content & imagery)?
- Who will do it (e.g. bring in an outside branding agency)?
- How will they do it or what is needed (e.g. what technology is needed to help facilitate the action)?
- When will it get done (e.g. create a calendar that displays what is needed to be done and when it is needed)?
7. Marketing Execution and Implementation. Don’t plan forever. Get up and get it done through your execution and implementation!
8. Monitoring & Tracking. Track your success by monitoring your marketing efforts to ensure they are delivering the desired return.
As you see, marketing firms and big business do a lot to create the best marketing strategy and you should too. Just because your company may be small, doesn’t mean you have to operate like the average small business. Creating the best marketing strategy successfully could be the difference between your company succeeding or failing.
If you still need help, piecing it all together, sign up for our free 30-minute strategy session.
There should be more to this as it relates to the chart being provided like a quick explanation of what the gap is or how to determine the gap.
Categorize them into the following what? What are these 3 points called if anything?