Yesterday, I caught up with my client, friend and partner Sally Twellman. Sally is a creative force with a strong entrepreneurial mind and a constant drive to help people live happier lives. It’s no surprise I like her a lot.
Sally and I have been supporting one another the past few months. She has helped me make some big changes around health and wellness (and my life in general, especially professionally). I’ve helped her strategize her business and its corresponding marketing. But yesterday, she inspired me to speak more clearly about creating a marketing strategy than I have before, focusing me to be more succinct and more strong. Obviously, I couldn’t help but want to share those recommendations with you.
Here is how I would recommend creating a marketing strategy.
1. Select two or three marketing efforts of focus
It would be fantastic if you were able to execute every marketing option available to you: social media (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), events (networking, industry conferences, speaking opportunities), email marketing, blogging and public relations. But the likelihood is that you, as a small business owner, will be the person executing your marketing efforts. That creates two challenges. The first is time: everything that you do from a marketing perspective must be of proper use of your time and your time is limited. The second is match: everything you do should be something you enjoy that fits your skill set. As a result, you’ll only be able to select two or three marketing efforts for your strategy. While doing so may feel like closing doors, it means you’re more strategic with your efforts and that you enjoy executing them more.
To select two or three efforts, you’ll want to ask the following questions.
Do I enjoy this?
If you hate to write, blogging is not a good marketing strategy for you. You won’t write because you hate it and your sporadically updated blog will make you seem unfocused. If you love meeting people, networking is probably a great fit as it will excite you to attend events that give you a chance to meet new prospective customers.
Does it work?
You will find that there are some marketing opportunities that you love but that don’t lead to new opportunities. If social media is extremely fun for you but it doesn’t drive website traffic, doesn’t encourage referrals and doesn’t receive engagement, it’s not a good investment of your time.
Does it align with my budget?
Similarly to the last question, every effort must properly align with your budget. For example, conferences may inspire you and lead to new customers but their cost to attend may be $1500 and their new customer income may only generate $750. In this case, you’ll want to reconsider whether they match your strategy. Similarly, they may not align with your budget when it comes to time. If creating a newsletter is fun but takes eight hours, which could be spent billing clients, they may not align with your budget because they don't align with your time. In this case, consider removing it from your strategy or hiring someone to create emails for you in a way that does align with your budget.
2. Uncover execution
Once you have selected which two or three efforts you want to focus on, you're ready to create a strategy for how those efforts get executed. This piece of your marketing strategy arises from your Brand Identity. Who are you? What is your vision of the world? What do you value? These core qualities of your identity will help you uncover how you execute your efforts. For example, if you are a graphic designer with Scandinavian tastes, it would be a great idea to share examples of your work on your Instagram account. As would it be effective to share work that inspires you that matches your aesthetic.
Equally important, you’ll want to use what you know about your customers to uncover how you execute your marketing. If you know your customers work with you because your friendly and a mother, it makes sense to include stories about your children that highlight your friendly personality in your newsletter.
By focusing on your identity and your customers, you’ll be able to create a few strategies for execution such as sharing professional stories, personal stories, thought leadership, partners or advice.
3. Create your Marketing Strategy
Once you have selected your marketing efforts and your execution strategy, it’s time to put together your official Marketing Strategy, which includes a Marketing Calendar and a core strategy. Your core strategy comes succinctly describing your decisions from step 1 and 2. This should outline which marketing efforts you’re focusing on, how they get implemented and what their goals are. As you write this, think about how you would describe your efforts and their execution to a potential business investor. That will help with clarity and put you in a business mindset.
Your Marketing Calendar will be your weekly guide as you execute your strategy. The calendar allows you to establish frequency and type. Personally, I like my marketing calendar to be broken down by week and marketing effort in a spreadsheet. So during Week 4, I write a thought leadership blog post on marketing. I also share a post daily on Twitter, half of which share information about what I’m doing professionally and the other half which direct people to online articles or interesting businesses. Lastly, I attend Mod, which fulfills my networking effort.
Now that you've outlined which efforts you want to focus on, uncovered their execution and put together your plan on paper, you've not only created a strong Marketing Strategy, you're ready to put it into action.