Six Steps To Create a Digital Marketing Plan

Creating a digital marketing plan for your small business can feel overwhelming. There are so many kinds of small businesses that need to market. Digital marketing can be a vital component to pretty much every kind of business you can think of. This includes:

  • Marketing for service-based industries, like roof repair, plumbing, pressure washing, delivery services, etc. These are businesses where you don’t provide a physical product but are selling a service. These are local businesses that are tied to a geographic location.
  • Marketing for merchandise businesses, like marketing your Etsy store, local grocer, cosmetics store, book store, etc. These are businesses where you provide a tangible product to sell. You may do this locally or remotely and provide shipping.

Market Your Small Business

People who own and run small businesses are typically entrepreneurially minded and passionate about what they do. You probably like the idea of being in business for yourself and have a lot of skin in the game. There are a variety of ways that owning your own small business come about that impact the understanding you bring to the discussion of digital marketing. You could be:

  • A second generation owner inheriting “print-based” marketing tactics (you’ve used fliers, direct mail, coupons, etc.)
  • A digital native who utilizes the internet daily for personal use
  • A merchandising business that functions primarily online
  • A service-based business that performs physical, location-based work
  • Familiar with the basics of marketing
  • Unfamiliar with marketing at all

Wherever you’re coming from, marketing isn’t rocket science. All marketing is, at its essence, is communication. You have a brand, product or service that you believe in and want to tell people about.

Is Digital Marketing Necessary for My Small Business?

There are a myriad of statistics that indicate that a lion’s share of purchasing happens online. Whether people are booking your service or buying your product, their smartphone is probably the portal through which they are doing it. This does translate into the reality that your digital marketing impacts your bottom line. If people can’t find you online or can’t easily purchase from you online, you are at a disadvantage. The digital marketplace is a competitive space but there is room for you, if you apply the right strategies. You know your business. You love your business. Here are some ways to grow your business online.

Digital Marketing for Small Businesses

Creating a marketing plan for your small business is the same process whether you are doing the work online or in print. There are a few basic, tried and true steps that can help you create a strategy that works.

Six Steps to Creating a Digital Marketing Plan for Your Small Business

Let’s break it into bite-sized pieces. First, remind yourself through this whole process that you have a finite amount of time, resource and mental energy. Once you have your mission and vision, it’s important to prioritize your daily spend in accordance with those goals. One of your goals will, of course, be tied to revenue and increasing your customer base. Allocate the right amount of time spend to this process and it will yield results for you. Don’t let it be overwhelming. Hire someone to help if you need to, even temporarily to get these processes in motion. Either way, don’t tap out of this process to pay attention to other things. Push through and invest at least some of your daily time and energy to developing this process. It will be worth it.

ONE: Define Personas and Criteria for Success

A persona is simply the kind of person that you think will or who you want to buy your product or service. In other words: who is your target customer? And don’t say “everybody.” Of course, everybody. But, realistically, who is most likely to purchase from you or book you for a job? Get clear about that person. Ask demographic questions like income level, jobs, age, zip codes and even interests. These aspects will all be very relevant as you market.

Define your goal for what you want this persona to do: “we want 400 new X’s to buy our product over the next 12 months.” This goal is then stepped back:

  • How many does that mean per month?
  • Where will they come from as you assess all of your channels?
  • How frequently do you plan to touch base regarding your progress?
  • What will happen if you are not making your quotas?

These goals are important to delineate because with many marketing efforts, like Facebook ads for instance, you will want to measure how much money each lead costs, with a goal of achieving leads under $3/head. This is the process of defining your criteria for success. In other words, start with the end in mind: what is a realistic and ambitious goal for the number of new customers you want and by when? It may be helpful to chart goals quarterly.

TWO: Create an SEO Schematic

Ask yourself the question: what will people type into Google when they are looking for you? What other companies are people looking for when they happen upon you? Where are people most likely to look for you (Google, social, etc.)?

In other words: for what searches do you want to rank? Taking this persona you’ve created, where do they hang out online? Brainstorm this and then do an analysis of online traffic for those phrases. Select the top 10-12 words and phrases that you will use in the text throughout your website and all online platforms.

THREE: Audit and Assess Your Resources

What collateral do you have? Whether you are a start-up with just a business plan or an established brand with a lot of historical content, look at it all. What has been used before and how effective was it? List everything you have used to market both internally and externally for the last ten months. Average the data. What is working? Where are you getting the most leads from? This honest look is imperative if you are going to move forward with a digital marketing plan that works to grow your business.

FOUR: Write a Marketing Plan

Create a marketing plan for the upcoming quarter. A good marketing plan should include:

  • A budget
  • Objective goals (increase by 100 followers, capture 50 new leads, etc.)
  • Calendar-based tasks
  • Editorial process
  • Ads
  • Campaigns

Every piece of content that you create should be budgeted for and have measurable metrics. This is a big deal: don’t trust nebulous things like “impressions.” Only count an ad successful or judge it based on how much money you spent to get a good lead. Both the quantity and quality of your leads matter. Write out your plan and give yourself attainable goals on the calendar. Frequently revisit the plan and look at your data to course correct as needed.

FIVE: Execute Your Marketing Plan

This is where the rubber meets the road and many start-ups and small business owners lose steam. It’s all great in theory, but when you have to start generating content and learning a few new software platforms and getting down and dirty with data, it can feel overwhelming. At this point: you need a win. So, do something bold. Spend a little on an ad. Get a few clicks and email addresses. Prove to yourself that this will work. And then, stick to the plan.

Make a very clear, assignment-oriented task list for this project. Assign a project manager, assign each person on the team to specific tasks, whether it is overseeing emails, writing content, tracking data, etc. Be sure that every link in the chain is accounted for (updating website content, tracking website traffic, adjusting website content and a/b testing, tracking form fills into CRM, monitoring automated emails and building campaigns, a/b testing email campaigns, following through with leads to see if they have attended or joined). Keeping in mind with all of these actions and tracking whether you are successfully attracting the people you want and they are doing what you want them to do.

SIX: Test, Measure, Adjust

Your marketing plan for your small business at this point is intact and tasks are being executed. Here’s the thing, for a start-up in the pre-launch days or for a new or rebranded company, there is a good deal of trial and error that will happen before you have a robust pipeline. Don’t get discouraged. Test. Do split tests. Analyze. Do them again. Provide room in your marketing spend for this, because the more testing you do, the more effective each subsequent ad you run will be.

Let’s get a little more specific here.

Test: There are many ways to test your system. Run two facebook ads with two different images and see which performs better. Send two emails with different titles and see which one is opened more. This testing will significantly improve your efforts.

Measure: There are many ways to do this but ultimately it comes down to who needs to know. Whichever kind of report is most easily accessible and understandable by stakeholders is the one you should use. This may not always be the report that is internal to a system, say, through FB ads managers or your website hosting service. It is simple to create a spreadsheet where you simply list each effort each week: every post on every platform, every email sent, etc. and then list the statistics after it has been delivered. Then you can easily see, we had 34 likes this week and 25 of them were on one post (learn from that post!). This data will also immediately alert you to any software issues (if an email is spammed etc.).

Adjust: Take the data seriously. Adjust your messaging and investment accordingly. If you send a Direct Mail and can’t measure whether anyone came to the church because of it, don’t do it again until you have a number. If you sponsor a little league team, do you have any visitors because of that visibility? Some efforts are goodwill but stewardship should dictate investing in effective ways.

Small Business Marketing Help

You may need help. There are dozens of online platforms where qualified marketers and writers are available to give you guidance. Hire a Writer is one of them. We specialize in helping small businesses and start-ups. We are interested in connecting with people who are in the game for the good of the market and their people. If that’s you, we’re happy to have a call and lean in if needed.

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