Planning a marketing campaign can be intimidating for a small business: where do you start? What ideas are important? What does that jargon actually mean?
However, running a marketing campaign is very important in helping you achieve business objectives, both short and long term. Like any big project, a marketing campaign requires careful planning, and the more comprehensive your planning the better the final result will be.
This planning doesn’t have to be difficult or complicated. Here are our six practical steps to help you plan your next marketing campaign.
Despite sounding like a very obvious step, lots of businesses don’t clearly define their goals for a marketing campaign before starting.
Your goal is the outcome you want: try and make it as clear and specific as possible. For example, if you want to attract more customers, think about how many, what you want them to buy and over what time.
By setting a clear, defined, time-specific goal, you’ll be able to measure how successful the campaign is as it progresses. Don’t worry if at first it feels like a stab in the dark; as you work through the steps you can refine this goal.
If you don’t know who your target audience is for your marketing, you’ll struggle to find them, give them the right information or encourage them to buy from you. Do your research; start by considering if any of your current customers have something in common, or regularly mention their reasons for buying from you to understand who your audience are.
Once you know your target customer, you can work out what sort of marketing campaign you’ll need to run, because you’ll know where they are and what they’re interested in.
It’s important to be very clear on what your business is, what your USP is and what you stand for. This will make it a lot easier to create your marketing materials, because you’ll know what makes you stand out. For many small businesses, it’ll be your expertise and personal touch that customers just can’t get from big brands.
Write a list of your business ‘features’ and think about which ones are most important for your target customer, and which ones will make the most difference to their lives.
After you’ve defined this USP, be consistent in your marketing materials for this campaign. Stick with your key message and make sure everyone in your company knows it, it’s on all your marketing materials and you keep saying it whenever you have the chance.
Once you have your objective, your target customer and your USP, think carefully about how you will measure the success of the campaign. Do you have a clear set of tools to help you view and analyse information? If not, spend some time researching and collecting these tools before you start any marketing activity.
We’ve got more ideas about monitoring what’s happening online for your business here, which can be easily applied to a marketing campaign.
It’s not cheating to have a good look at what your competitors are offering or doing – in fact, it makes good business sense! It’ll help you understand whether your USP is truly unique, and what sort of common customer issues other businesses are having which you might be able to solve in your next campaign.
After you’ve gathered together all of this information, it’s time to plan it all out so you understand what’s happening and when. A communications plan can be very simple: on a large sheet of paper, write the marketing types you’ll be using down one side – for example, social media, email marketing and advertising in your local paper.
Then write out, along the top, the period of time your campaign will be going on for. This might be in weeks (for something like print advertising) or days (if it’s going to be only on social media). All you need to do is then fill in the boxes with what’s happening and when.
With these six practical steps, you’ll have planned your next marketing campaign effectively and efficiently. Now it’s time to create the marketing materials and start the campaign! Here are some ideas to get you started:
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