Monthly Archives: December 2019

office desk with tools for planning marketing budget

How to Get the Most Out of Your Marketing Budget

Every dollar in a small business marketing budget matters, especially when the budget is tight. That’s why we’ve put together a list of tips that help small businesses get the best return-on-investment for their marketing dollar.

Realize that growth requires spending

Unfortunately, small business marketing follows the old adage, “nothing in life is free.” (Though that doesn’t mean it doesn’t can’t be affordable.) While setting up a social media profile may be free, social media marketing is rarely effective unless the profile is maintained regularly with relevant content. The production and maintenance take time, and time is money. However, if marketing on social media is done well, it results in more customers and sales. Effective marketing yields results but effective marketing requires a regular allotment of time (such as a regular check-in with the marketing team or hands-on marketing) and funds.

Make a plan

One of the easiest ways to get the most out of a small business marketing budget is to make a plan. This step results in a documented strategy that ensures the budget is allocated into marketing tactics with a high ROI that can be regularly checked and evaluated. An effective marketing plan starts with a few simple questions and should include a marketing schedule. The schedule should follow the business’ sales cycle and clearly designate the party responsible for executing each tactic.

Choose tactics that target local customers

A marketing plan is only as effective as the tactics included. Small businesses should take this selection a step further and choose tactics that target a local audience, such as local SEO, social media, or on-page website optimization. These tactics typically have the highest ROI and strategically leverage every dollar of a marketing budget. Local SEO and on-page website optimization target local customers by building authority with search engines, allowing them to appear at the top of local searches. These marketing tactics are backed by statics. Search Engine Watch recently published a Google report that stated local searches led 50% of mobile users to a local store.

Outsource when needed

The crux of an effective marketing plan is productive execution. Regular marketing is an important part of building brand awareness and engaging customers. While small businesses tend to believe that marketing is cheaper when done in-house, the opposite actually proves to be true in certain situations. This is where a (quick) evaluation can be an important step toward yielding results. Businesses should ask, “What marketing do we need? Do we have the staff and time to effectively execute the plan?”

The answer might be a clear yes or no, or only a partial positive or negative. For some businesses, it is more cost-effective to outsource part—or all—of the marketing (a request for a quote can answer the question). To be clear, even if the answer is a completely positive and it makes the most sense to completely outsource, businesses still should plan on allocating some time. Regular check-ins and contributions are an important part of creating a custom marketing plan with the same tone and look.  

marketing plan meeting

10 Questions that Yield the Perfect Small Business Marketing Plan

This post is not about social media or local SEO (though both marketing tactics should be on every local business’ radar); instead, this practical post is for small businesses looking to draft (and use) a marketing plan that gets results.

While drafting a marketing plan adds another item to the year-end task list, the process is definitely worth the effort. A small business marketing plan provides the direction that ensures that every marketing tactic and investment is strategic; it allows businesses to strategically choose the right marketing tactics and get the most from investments of time and money.

A marketing plan ensures that the marketing process is more methodical, but that doesn’t mean the effort shouldn’t be incredibly practical as well. The plan doesn’t have to be full of technical marketing jargon, but it should include some vital information that stems from asking several strategic marketing plan questions.

What is the current state of the industry? What are the unique strengths of the business?

This section of a small business marketing plan doesn’t have to be long, but should detail the environment of the business’ industry. This section should also include information about competitors, and what sets the small business apart.

Put simply, the latter should answer the question “what makes customers want to buy from the business?” The answer may be excellent customer service, a unique form of service delivery, or a product advantage. Whatever the answer, this information can be used to create marketing messages that detail why customers should buy from the business.

What current marketing tactics are being used? What marketing has worked in the past?

The marketing plan should detail past marketing tactics (i.e. social media, content marketing, etc.) and the success (or not) of past marketing campaigns. In addition to detailing the past, this part of the marketing plan should also include future marketing tactics and ideas to be included in a marketing calendar.

Who is the business’ target audience? Who is the ideal customer?

This is one of the most important marketing plan questions, and, unfortunately, one that not many small businesses address. The marketing plan should specifically detail who the business is targeting. Instead of the generic “everyone,” this section of the small business marketing plan should provide demographic information (and location specifics, if the business is local) of the target audience.

What new products or services are we introducing?

A small business marketing plan should provide direction for a marketing calendar; a list of new products and services (with projected roll out dates) guides decisions about future marketing tactics and ideas.

What are the future goals? How are those goals evaluated?

Future goals are an essential part of a small business marketing plan. This section should also detail how the goals are evaluated and when they are evaluated. When setting goals, it is important for small business owners to be realistic and to realize that quality matters more than quantity. As tempting as it is to set goals like, “gain 10,000 new followers on social media,” it is important to realize that the amount of social media engagement contributes far more customer loyalty and future sales.

What staffing and budget is available for marketing?

Just as with marketing goals, this portion of the small business marketing plan should be an honest assessment of the staffing time and expertise available for reaching goals. If this assessment proves that there is a gap in available staffing (or expertise), certain tasks should be outsourced to a marketing team of specialists with experience and a track record of results.

In addition to staffing, this area should also set a budget for marketing. Though some marketing tactics may be (technically) free, it should be recognized that results are gained by regular and relevant efforts (which cost money).

The answers to each of these questions should be documented so progress is regularly tracked and results are easily evaluated. A custom-drafted marketing plan can also be drafted by a professional marketing team with marketing tactics specifically chosen for the small business (and fitting within the marketing budget).