10 marketing must haves

Marketing is the answer to raising the profile your small business. However, with so many marketing options available, it can be difficult to determine which path to take. Use these 10 marketing must-haves to ensure your marketing plan hits the right notes.

  1. Identify your customers
  2. Embrace change
  3. Set results targets
  4. Measure your marketing
  5. Combine various mediums
  6. Utilise cost effective marketing methods
  7. Use social media
  8. Email marketing
  9. Search engine optimisation
  10. Get involved

1. Identify your customers

Use your marketing plan to define your customer base. Without a clear definition of who your target audience is, your marketing activities are close to pointless. Identify your perfect customer but be realistic. Once you have defined the ideal customer to buy your product or service, you will need to work out the best way to reach them.

Also keep in mind that with changing customer behaviours, your customer base can alter. Make sure you are open to shifting behaviours so you are prepared to adjust your marketing plan accordingly.

2. Embrace change

With marketing techniques and customer behaviours constantly changing, you need to continually update your marketing plan. If you're still using an old marketing plan, it is time for a make-over. In fact, your plan should be reviewed at least every quarter, although ideally every month. Things can change very quickly and you need to be on the ball to make the most of it.

When changing your marketing plan, consider trying something different. Variety is the spice of life so explore other marketing techniques like social network marketing or media releases.

3. Set results targets

It is important your marketing plan includes the expected results of your marketing activities. Calculate how much it will cost to implement your marketing plan and how much you will need to sell in order to break even (with the obvious aim to make a profit). Known as return on investment, this will enable you to think within your own capabilities and not break the bank. However, it is also worthwhile to consider the long term effects of your marketing activities on brand recognition although this is more difficult to predict.

4. Measure your marketing

Take time to measure your successes and failures. It is important you spend your marketing budget wisely and don't continually throw away money on marketing mediums that are unsuccessful. Depending on the structure of your business, you can do some assessment yourself by comparing the number of enquiries and sales before and after you implement a new campaign. However, for a more thorough evaluation, there are a number of measurement tools available, depending on how much you're willing to pay.

5. Combine various mediums

Your marketing plan should consider all marketing mediums (television, radio, print, online) collectively rather than focusing on each separately. One marketing activity can have a significant influence on another so it would be irresponsible to isolate them. Also, your plan should ideally include cross promotion between mediums to achieve truly successful results. A split marketing plan will bring in unbalanced results.

6. Utilise cost effective marketing methods

As the saying goes, 'you need to spend money to make money'. But with marketing, this is not always true. There are some useful marketing activities that don't require a huge outlay and can be invaluable in promoting your business. It costs next to nothing to use individual emails to distribute newsletters to clients and press releases to local media. Social media is another cost effective option. These activities are great tools to help your business create precious relationships with customers within your target market.

For other cost effective marketing tips read Low cost methods of business promotion>>

7. Use social media

Consider social media in your marketing plan. Reports indicate that approximately nine million Australians use social networking sites and around 40 percent of Australians interact with companies using social media. Social networking sites provide businesses with the ability to connect with individuals and gain valuable feedback on your products and services. Use social media to reach a wide audience and even better� it's free.

Unsure if social media is the way to go for your business? Read The pros and cons of social media>>

8. Email marketing

Email marketing is another cost effective and easily measurable online option. It has taken a number of years for email marketing to reach the mainstream and be accepted as a reputable mode of marketing however the time has come to embrace this medium. Email marketing is great tool to reach a large group of people who have already expressed interest in your business, products or services. However, the success of an email marketing campaign depends on a strong message and email database to back it up.

For more tips on creating a successful email campaign read The dos and don'ts of a good email campaign>>

9. Search engine optimisation

Increase the ranking of your website in online searches by utilising search engine optimisation (SEO). Search engines seek relevant results by scouring websites so by editing your site content to include key words and search phrases you can increase your ranking. A higher ranking can result in greater web traffic and sales. It can be difficult to do yourself but there are a number of companies which with offer SEO as a service. Another form of SEO is offsite optimisation which relates to other websites which link to your site - similar to a vote of confidence for search engines.

10. Get involved

Get involved in the mrketing of your business by using your image, name or expertise. This is particularly useful if you have been involved in the industry for a number of years. Build your client base by establishing yourself, or your business, as a specialist in its field by speaking at industry events or by getting involved with the media.

Similarly, you might like to consider fronting your business by incorporating your personal brand into the business brand through the use of your name or image. It is a great way of making your business easily identifiable.

For great ideas on how to promote your reputation read Use your expertise to market your company>>

Consider these additions to your marketing plan so you are confident you hit all the right notes.

If you're writing a marketing plan but are unsure how to approach it, read Planning for marketing success>>

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