Setting up a Marketing Plan for Small Businesses

Are you planning to market your company? You need a robust marketing plan that will help you to know more about your competitors, target group, and plan a better reach.


Strategizing Marketing Plans For Small Businesses

To understand the need for a marketing plan, let’s see the story of Karan: 

It is rare for Karan to miss any cycling event in the city. Be it a cycle race, a hike, or a cyclothon he has missed any of them. But a cycling enthusiast like him felt harrowed when he went to his local cycle repair shop to change the tires or improve the brakes. After all, a cycle goes through immense wear and tear after these high voltage events. Many times, his local cycle repairer replaced the original spare parts with the fake ones that made him visit the repairer frequently.

Just like how motorbikes and automobiles have authorized service centres, Karan realized that there are any for the cycles. That is when Karan opened a cycle repair shop that provides dedicated repair services to the cycles of each variety like – normal commuting cycle, mountain cycle, hybrid cycle, road bikes, folding cycles, and even kids cycles. To give a hassle-free experience one can book a time slot online stating the actual problem of the cycle that will generate an automatic delivery date to take away.

 Apart from repairing, his store also boasts of keeping original spare parts and accessories of brands like – Atlas, Avon, Hercules, BSE, etc. His repair shop stood shining amid his locality with a steel placard with words written in blue bold and caps ‘THE CYCLE STORY’.

But next what, merely establishing a store is not enough to draw enough customers if there are no proper marketing plans in place. Hearing the word ‘marketing plans’ Karan, laughed saying that it requires adequate money and needs a marketing agency.

Small business owners perceive that marketing is expensive and can be afforded only by established and big businesses. But that is not true, marketing always does not require a huge budget and an ad agency.

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One does not always need a marketing agency to design marketing plans.

Setting a marketing plan for small business

Set a marketing goal

Before deciding on a marketing plan, it is necessary to understand what the owner wants to achieve with these plans. We need proper marketing goals in place that should give clarity to the marketing plan. Many times, business owners set goals such as ‘I want to increase sales by 10 percent’, ‘I want more customers coming to my store’ or ‘I want to explore new markets and demographics’. The goals mentioned here lack one thing that is they are not ‘SMART’. By saying ‘SMART’ we say that the goals should be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Relevant and Time-bound. Setting marketing goals in the ‘SMART’ format will keep one focused on his business.

For instance, let us take Karan’s business for a while, how he needs to set his ‘SMART’ marketing goals.

Specific: The goals set must be clear and refer to a particular part of the business. Instead of saying “This year we will improve the online marketing of the store” we should make the goals more concise and precise by saying that in the current year we will increase traffic to our website by 10 percent by the end of December 2021. The more specific the goal, the more likely we are to achieve it.

Measurable: Goals should be quantified and should be trackable. While Karan sets out to increase his shop’s website traffic by 10 per cent, it is measurable. We can track the progress made in bringing more traffic from the current stage.

Attainable: The marketing goals should be achievable based on the existing skills, people, money, tools. materials and timeframe. If Karan’s store website had received 500 visits last month, he cannot expect to receive 10,000 visits in the following month.

Relevant: Goals also should be formed in the context of the current business climate. For Karan it will be tough to achieve an increase in sales if two new cycle repair shops just like his have recently opened in the locality.

Time-Bound: Goals must have a deadline or time frame by which they should be achieved. Without that specific deadline, the goal becomes a moving target and unlikely to be reached. 

Decoding the competitor

Good competitor analysis helps you to create better products and services and identify gaps where your business can grow giving you a first-mover advantage. Decoding the competitor’s marketing plan helps to identify the strengths and weaknesses and uncover market trends as well.

To decode the competitor SWOT analysis is an alternate way. It is a four-quadrant system where we figure out the competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, threats, and opportunities based on external and internal business conditions.

The target audience: Key step in a marketing plan

Most of the small businesses fail to establish themselves as they fail to place themselves in the customer’s shoes and not appealing to the buyers. After decoding the competitor, the next step should be to create a buyer’s persona. A buyer’s persona gives a rough idea of your ideal audience that has all the required characteristics which will make them buy or avail of your product and service. While creating a buyer’s persona we must consider demographic parameters such as-age, gender, family composition, geographic location, income, etc. Also, psychographic parameters whether they are innovators, survivors, experiencers, makers, believers, thinkers, strivers and achievers.

Let us go into a bit of detail about what these psychographic profiles are:

Innovators

They are receptive to new technologies and ideas, love to experiment, and are not afraid to spend money.

Thinkers

These are kinds of buyers who plan, research, and consider before they buy. They are financially established and do not easily get influenced by the current trends in the market.

Achievers

Rather than buying for themselves they always think for their family first. They believe that people will respect an individual if they have money hence thinking money to be a source of authority. Customers belonging to achievers are hardworking.

Experiencers

These sets of customer psyche are the first ones to adopt current trends as well as switch to another new trend. Generally spontaneous and social, they love physical activity and have a heightened sense of visual stimulation.

Believers

This set of customers believe in living a life of ideals. They rely on spirituality and faith to inspire people and have no tolerance for ambiguity. They value constancy and stability. Usually, these set of customers remain most loyal to a brand.

Striver

They have a desire to better their lives but have difficulty in fulfilling them. They are fun-loving and love to entertain themselves by watching videos and playing video games. They use public transportation and are financially weak.

Makers

They have an interest in outdoor activities like hunting and fishing and believe in sharp gender roles. They want to protect what they perceive to be theirs and are straightforward. They are distrustful of the government.

Marketing strategy

After we have set our marketing goals, found our competitors, and defined our target audience, it’s time for executing the marketing plan. Marketing strategies will vary for what you want to achieve. To maximise the reach of the business its strategy will differ from increasing engagement or conversion.

Strategies for increasing reach

For any new venture, the biggest challenge is to increase visibility and awareness of the business to the masses.

Establish your online presence

In today’s digital era, a good website is your digital salesperson that pitches your business to millions of prospects who are searching for solutions that you provide. Karan to increase his cycle repair shop’s reach should specify that they provide all kinds of repair services to a variety of cycles and use spare parts of all original brands. The navigation on his website should be user friendly that can easily direct the searchers to find the store address, mobile number, and the place where one could book online for a repair service.

Create Blogs

Do not show your desperation for generating sales in the beginning as the audience will perceive you with a greedy and selfish motive. Instead, put more effort into educating and informing your target audience as that builds brand credibility and boosts your website’s searchability and rankings.

Presence in exhibitions, fairs, and organizing workshops

 Ever wondered why big brands like Pidilite, Dabur, and Lifebuoy eagerly wait to market their brands in Kumbh Mela. It is because places such as exhibitions, fairs, and religious congregations gather a large crowd who belong to the target audience of your brand and increase your visibility. It becomes easy for brands to market their products for the audience. The same rule goes for small businesses as well. For Karan, he can maximize the reach of his shop by putting up a stall distributing pamphlets in various cycle races and marathons. The people present in such competitions will be cycling enthusiasts as they would be in search of such cycle repair shops who give such dedicated service.

Strategies for increasing engagement

After giving a visibility push to your brand, the next step of your marketing plan is to increase the audience engagement with your brand.

Leverage social media

Your online presence is incomplete if you are absent on social media. Positive social mentions about your brand are good for business as they are a form of free advertising as they put your business in front of an audience without any work or payment on your part.

Encourage customers to write reviews

Customer reviews are important as they build trust and encourage new customers to do business with you. Set up systems that encourage past clients to share reviews on feedback cards, review sites, and even filmed testimonials.

Strategies to increase conversion

The objective of every marketing plan is to increase sales. Below are some ways to increase conversion.

Incentivize their website visits

Not every visitor who lands on your site is going to convert. One way to make their visit count is by collecting their information such as contact number or email id for sending promotional emails, but collecting contact details is not easy.

Email Marketing

The email ids received from visitors visiting the website can be targeted for email marketing with a clear ‘Call to Action’ like Call now or Book now. The emails to be sent according to the qualities and habits of the customer.

Referral Marketing

This strategy helps to bring in new customers to conversion. Let our existing customers know that if they refer a new customer to your business, they will receive benefits such as small freebies, service discounts, and contest entries.

Creation of a package or Subscription Plan

 Always give your customers value for money. For instance, Karan at his cycle repair shop can create a package that does repairing cycles right from punctures to greasing up to twenty times under a price of Rs 499.

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A human mind is the most complex of all that is influenced by upbringing, peer thinking, several ideologies, and thoughts.  To create the right product-consumer fit, it is imperative to know the pain points of your potential customers and what psychology they might carry.

Setting the Budget for the marketing plan

While devising the marketing plan setting the budget the business owners need to remember that marketing is crucial. Hence, to become the owner of a successful business one must strategically invest in cost-effective marketing techniques. 

Shalmoli Sarkar
Shalmoli Sarkar
An MBA in marketing and a BTech in chemical engineering, Shalmoli writes on marketing strategies and business technology for new and aspiring entrepreneurs.

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