Creating a Marketing Strategy for Your Small Business

Businesses rely on marketing to spread awareness of their products and services. Having a predetermined strategy can help you make logical decisions about how to most effectively develop your customer base. Use this guide to develop a marketing strategy that thoughtfully shares your brand with the market.

 

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What is a marketing strategy?

A marketing strategy is a business’s long-term plan for reaching a market and converting them into customers. Your marketing strategy guides your team’s approach for building a following, driving repeat purchases and finding new clients. An effective marketing strategy is based on how your products or services fit into a wider market and differentiate from your competitors.

 

Marketing strategy vs marketing plan

Business plans often have both a marketing strategy and a marketing plan. The marketing strategy provides an overview of your company’s general plan to advertise and reach customers. It summarizes market research, addresses challenges and summarizes the message you want to project to customers. A marketing plan is more detailed, explaining the precise steps for achieving the marketing strategy, like advertising channels, timelines, activities and budget.

 

Benefits of creating a marketing strategy

A well-planned marketing strategy can guide your company’s growth and build your company’s reputation. Having a marketing strategy has many benefits including:

  • Building an intentional brand: Having a strategy before you start reaching out to customers can help you build a focused brand. Your brand makes you recognizable to customers and shows them how you are different from competitors.
  • Emphasizing research: A marketing strategy ensures that your advertising efforts are based on actual customer data and market research.
  • Aligning company efforts: Your marketing strategy can help guide product development, refine the company mission and influence budget decisions.

 

What roles are involved in developing marketing strategies?

Depending on the scale of your marketing strategy, you may want to hire employees dedicated to creating, implementing and maintaining it. Some of the roles involved in business marketing are:

 

Data analysts

Data analysts interpret your business’s customer information and other marketing data. They identify market trends and make recommendations on how to increase traffic on your website, convert customers and make repeat sales.

 

Marketing manager

Marketing managers are in charge of building a company’s brand, researching consumer behavior, developing a base of dedicated customers and finding new markets. They make projections about how marketing will impact sales and manage advertising budgets for various campaigns

Related: How to Hire a Marketing Manager

 

Social media manager

To advertise on social media channels, consider hiring a social media manager who will interact with fans, answer questions and create relationships with potential customers. Social media marketing campaigns can be a great way to scale your audience and share engaging content with people who are already interested in your product.

 

When to create a marketing strategy

Start developing your marketing strategy in the beginning phases of starting your business. It’s smart to have an idea of how you’re going to connect with customers before forecasting growth with your business. Your marketing strategy can help you decide how to get the word out about your business in its beginning phases and how to start growing. Continually adjust your marketing strategy based on what aspects are most successful and get the best feedback from customers.

 

How to develop a marketing strategy

Use these steps as an outline towards creating a marketing strategy to grow your small business:

 

1. Understand your product

Spend time brainstorming all of the possible uses and benefits of your product or service. Think about what problem your business solves and how it is different from other solutions on the market. Find out what potential customers like about your product and who would potentially find it helpful.

Draft a unique selling proposition (USP), a phrase that summarizes what makes your business special. You can write several USPs at the beginning of your marketing strategy and hone in on the one that you find to be most impactful with customers.

 

2. Research the competition

Study the quality, price point and advertising methods your competitors use. Researching your competitors can help you refine your USPs and look for gaps in the market that you can focus on. Gather information on their mission, core values, business practices and branding. You can gain inspiration from their successful marketing campaign or try to find an unconventional method to set your business apart even more.

 

3. Set your target market

Determine what type of customers would benefit most from your business to set your target market. You can try to have a broad appeal to anyone who could purchase your product or choose to focus on niche marketing. Think about what your prospective customers have in common and what values they share. Consider creating a customer persona, a detailed profile that describes a fictional person who represents a composite of your target market.

 

4. Assess resources

Understand the financial limitations and time restrictions you have before planning the details of your marketing strategy. Assess your short-term and long-term budget to understand what kind of marketing campaign you can afford.

In addition to outlining your financial resources, list the relevant skills your team has and the professional contacts you could use to grow your brand. This will help you determine what you can do in-house and what tasks you need to hire an employee out outsource to a marketing professional

Related: Marketing Specialist Job Description Examples

 

5. Decide where to sell

Where you sell your products or services is an important element of your marketing strategy. Businesses that sell through e-commerce methods like their website or an online retailer will need different advertising methods than those who sell at a brick-and-mortar store. Find out where your target market tends to shop and choose marketing methods that complement those areas.

 

6. Choose promotion channels

Connect with your audience by selecting advertising channels that they regularly use. Different target markets are exposed to different places where they could learn about your product. Some popular promotion channels are:

  • Social media
  • Email 
  • Television
  • Search engines
  • Word of mouth

 

7. Review the strategy quarterly

Regularly evaluate the success of your marketing strategy and make adjustments to refine future marketing campaigns. Gather customer data and update your marketing research as you learn more about how your business connects best with potential buyers.

 

Frequently asked questions about marketing strategies

 

What are the four basic marketing strategies?

There are four main marketing structures called "the four P’s of marketing" or a "marketing mix." The four Ps are: 

  • Product
  • Price
  • Place 
  • Promotion

Some businesses include a fifth element, people, to acknowledge the role of customer service in retaining customers and word-of-mouth marketing.

 

How much does it cost to develop a marketing strategy?

The cost of developing a marketing strategy can vary. Business owners can choose to use paid advertising or look for free marketing tools online. Some businesses use low-cost methods like customer engagement and free data analytics to drive their marketing strategy, while others pay for mass-marketing campaigns to attract a high volume of customers at once.

 

What are examples of marketing strategies?

Some examples of marketing strategies include:

  • Content marketing
  • Creative advertising
  • Public relations marketing
  • Event marketing
  • Trade show marketing
  • Promotional marketing
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