Prior to launching your business venture, you must be as prepared as possible. This includes gaining the necessary amount of capital, recruiting a strong team of employees, and understanding every aspect of your market. Oh, and creating a comprehensive business plan.
A business plan is more than a document with your strategy and detailed descriptions of your products and services. It also outlines the goals and ambitions of a business.
Eager entrepreneurs have their business plan polished and ready to conquer the world far in advance of the physical launch. Unfortunately, many tend to forget to incorporate one key aspect of the business plan: the almighty marketing plan.
It’s simple. You can have a rock solid, kick butt business plan, but if no one knows you launched a business, what’s the point? Remember the goals and aspirations listed in your business plan? You cannot accomplish those without customers. Without a marketing plan, potential customers will be unaware of your business.
See where I’m going with this?
With the rise in digital marketing opportunities for small business owners, many forget about the need for a marketing plan.
“I’ll just make a Facebook account, do some weird thing called SEO, and call it a day” is the typical mindset of small business owners with little to no knowledge of digital marketing. In reality, managing a few social media accounts and a bit of keyword research isn’t enough to be a ‘marketing plan’. Oh no, my friend. An online marketing plan consists of much, much more.
Marketing + The Internet = The Holy Grail for Small Businesses
In the yesteryear of the business world, promoting a small business was a bit difficult. With the main marketing channels consisting of print, television and radio, it was quite expensive for a small business owner to reach a large audience or market. With the introduction of the Internet, small business owners shed a tear of joy – they could individually, and for little to no cost, promote their business in an effective manner.
As the Internet evolved, so did the marketing plans used by small business owners. They began to include building a website, optimizing for search engines and more into their marketing plans.
However, as online marketing gained popularity and businesses found success online, the traditional marketing plan began to decline in necessity amongst entrepreneurs. Instead, they began to focus on their online presence prior to analyzing their true marketing needs.
Traditional marketing plans include:
- Defining and analyzing the target market
- Addressing the marketing mix (4 P’s)
- The marketing tactics to be employed
- A detailed marketing budget outline
- Threats and opportunities
The concepts outlined in traditional marketing plans are still necessary in today’s highly digital world. In fact, with the saturated online marketing world, it is even more critical for small business owners to understand their particular market market, define the marketing mix for their venture and so on.
With the vast improvements in the realm of online marketing, business owners understand that implementing these techniques and strategies is essential for success in their field. However, it is all too common for entrepreneurs to jump right into the online marketing world without experience or research, or a proper digital marketing plan. As you can imagine, this scenario ends up costing business owners more time and resources in the long run.
Integrating Digital Marketing into the Traditional Marketing Plan
The digital marketing world has a lot to offer a small business. With multiple digital strategies available, you need to take time and evaluate each tactic with regards to the goals of your business plan.
This step is critical to the success of your business. You wouldn’t open a business without any planning or strategizing, so why would you jump right into a digital marketing plan without research?
While some businesses require all aspects of digital marketing in order to create and maintain an online presence, some businesses may only need a thorough social media plan. It is important to thoroughly weigh your options and needs when embedding digital marketing into your marketing plan.
All in all, your digital marketing plan needs to identify and define the following:
- Where to find your target market. What online channels do they use?
- What messaging will be used throughout your plan?
- What content will be created? How/where will it be shared?
- What methods of online consumer interaction serve best for your business?
To be fair, digital marketing methods, tactics and plans adapt and evolve over time as the needs of businesses and technology change. Be ready to adjust your marketing plan to accommodate these changes.
After fully planning and integrating your digital marketing strategy with your overall marketing and business plan, you need to assess whether or not you can actually afford and handle your plan.
To Hire an Agency or Not To Hire An Agency, That is the Question
As a small business owner ready to launch and market a new venture, you have a serious decision to make. Do you personally execute ALL of the marketing efforts in-house, or do you let an experienced agency take over the reigns? You have to evaluate whether or not you will have the knowledge, ability, time, and resources, to truly promote your business.
To keep it light, if you want to be successful, you cannot cut corners with a marketing plan. Successful small business owners understand that they need to focus on operating their small business and that they have a minimal amount of marketing knowledge or experience. Therefore, they seek out a fully capable agency that they interact well with and trust to properly implement their marketing plan.
If you have the time and ability to execute your small business digital marketing strategy, kudos! If not, you know who to call.