Creating a Marketing Plan

Marketing simply is the business of promoting and selling products or services. Traditional marketing utilizes strategies such as direct sales, TV, radio, mail, print advertising (magazines, coupon books, billboards) and printed promotional materials (catalogs or brochures).

Digital or online marketing can be an inexpensive, effective and measurable marketing tactic to drive customer traffic and improve your overall business. Digital marketing includes social media, online advertising, content marketing (blog, email marketing, social media) and of course a website. It is recommended that businesses follow the 80:20 rule when allocating funds between online:traditional marketing.

Developing a marketing plan is an important first step for businesses. A marketing and/or communications plan should be included in a company’s Business Plan.  Creating, following and updating a marketing plan can help you to sustainably grow your business. Marketing is highly important because it is the mediums that put you into contact with your customers. A well thought out business plan will allow your company to:

  • Keep your company speaking with one consistent voice across a multiple platforms, products, regions, and customer interactions.
  • Standout from your competitors.
  • Consistently resonate with their target markets.
  • Plan your marketing tactics, campaigns and budgets to save time and money.
  • Conduct and manage market research.

All companies can build their marketing effectiveness by thoroughly understanding the:

  • Target markets

o   It is best to create customer profiles    

  • Who are your existing and potential customers? What is the best way to communicate with them?
  • Buying, selling, and communications processes    

o   How do your customers prefer to buy? How are you set up to sell? What tactics or channels best facilitate buying and selling?

Your marketing plan should at least discuss the following sections:

  • Objectives: What should result from your marketing plan and activities?
  • Buying and selling process: Your customer’s buying process are the steps that customers follow when making a purchase. Your selling process is the set of steps that your sales team goes through when making a sale.
  • Messages: What do you want customers to know? How do they want to receive your messages?
  • Tactics: What tools or channels should you use to convey your messages?    
  • Budget and schedule: How much do your tactics cost? What is your budget? When should you run your campaigns?

An effective marketing plan must begin with market research and a thorough understanding of the areas mentioned above.

Final Tips:

It is very important for companies to track and measure their success. This means tracking your Return On Investment (ROI). The more quantifiable the metrics (e.g. a 5% increase in sales/market share or lead generation) – the better your future plans will be.

Your plan should create a plan that addresses each step in the marketing and communication process. Realistically, limited budgets will require prioritization.  Typically new markets, products or services will require more work and therefor a larger budget. 

Is Facebook Advertising Right for your Small Business?

Small businesses should consider adding social media ads to your annual marketing strategy. That means small businesses should not automatically write off advertising on Facebook. The key to being successful with Facebook advertising is managing expectations. There are conflicting reports regarding the effectiveness of Facebook ads. Do comments and advertisements drive purchases? Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear-cut answer.

Facebook Ads for Small Businesses

One of the strongest uses for Facebook ads is to get people in a very specific demographic to like your Facebook page so that you can then message to them over time. For example, a small local restaurant you can get Facebook users in your area to like your Facebook page and then offer coupons or promote events. Then you can incentivize your Facebook community to share those promotions so their friends can see it. This is how posts and advertisements can go viral. It’s important to note that viral ads are not the only way that Facebook can help small businesses.

Small businesses can also have success in Facebook advertising promotions. The businesses that often get poor results with Facebook ads are the ones that try and push a hard sale. This doesn’t work in other advertising mediums, so businesses shouldn’t be surprised that it is ineffective on Facebook. Facebook tends to work much better when promoting softer offers such as free giveaways, discounts or building fans that can be converted into leads/sales in the future.

Facebook Ad Benefits

Facebook ads help small businesses to build a fan and customer list. This is similar to email or direct mail marketing, but social media can offer more control and data. With traditional advertising (yellow pages, radio, TV, print, etc.) you get an ad, but you don’t get a customer lead generation list to cultivate. With Facebook ads, business owners can create a growing community of potential customers that you can foster for years. When used effectively, Facebook ads can help increase your word-of-mouth advertising. Being exposed to your friends pages, business and products can make for more effective marketing.

Facebook also offers data analysis and customizable options, similar to that of Google, which can help you increase your online exposure. The ability to target your ads (like on most digital platforms) is a huge benefit for small business owners.

Effectiveness of Facebook Ads

Another benefit of Facebook ads is that there are less competition for keywords than there is on Google or other PPC (pay-per-click) sites. As mentioned above, you are able to reach your target demographic in a casual online atmosphere.  There is more trust established, when a person likes your Facebook page than with a Google search. This trust can be an important factor in the effectiveness of your online marketing.

A big difference between a business Facebook page and a traditional web page is the ability to see and track customer engagement and feedback.  If a Facebook user decides to click on your Facebook ad they land on your Facebook page where they can see interactions and comments that users are saying about your company/brand. As a result, it helps build trust with your client pool.

The Cost

Facebook ad pricing can vary, but is directly related to the area of your target market. The minimum ad bid is low (approximately 0.01 or a penny), but as with Google AdWords, if you’re trying to advertise to a competitive demographic, you’ll be placed in an auction (similar to Google AdWords) with other advertisers and you’ll have to pay significantly more per click. As with most online marketing platforms, companies can control how much they spend by setting daily and campaign budgets.

Many experts say that the price of Facebook ads is among their most appealing features. As with most marketing campaigns, you need to commit to a budget of $500 to $1,000 to get started. Also, it is important to test different ad types, images, and landing pages. After you finish your A/B testing, you can run the more effective ads.