Introducing your business to the world can be expensive, and sometimes getting started can seem daunting when you don’t have a lot of capital. Fortunately, there’s no need to shell out big bucks for a full-blown marketing plan to get the ball rolling and attract more customers. Here are five steps you can take with little or no expense.
- Assess Your Audience
Whether you sell delicious food to hungry locals, provide healthcare to patients, or anything in between, you need to know who your customers are. Think about who you’re trying to reach and what makes them want to buy from your business over another. This will allow you to fine-tune the rest of your marketing plan and advertising choices accordingly. Assess your audience for size, demographics, and psychographics. What are they like? Where do they live, and how will you reach them? How will your business make their lives better, easier or more fun? Write this information down and be as specific as possible.
- Set Goals and Objectives
You can’t set a budget for marketing activities without knowing what you want them to accomplish in the first place. Write down exactly what results you hope to see from your efforts, whether it’s new sales leads, more traffic on your website, or an increase in customer satisfaction.
- Evaluate Your Competition
Just like you, your competition is aiming to get noticed by potential customers. Take a look at some of the marketing tactics they use and see if there are any opportunities for you to stand out from the crowd. For example, if your competitor relies heavily on print advertising, consider whether you could benefit from doing the same.
Now that you have a better idea of who your audience is and what kind of marketing tactics they respond to, put on your creative hat and come up with some promotional ideas. If you’re having trouble getting started, look for inspiration in everyday life, such as ads, billboards and marketing mailers you receive in the mail. If you’re still having difficulty thinking outside the box, consider recruiting some friends or trusted advisors to help with your brainstorming session.
- Set Up a Budget and Schedule
Every business is unique and will have its own financial considerations, so take this step last as you finalize your overall marketing plan. You may discover that some of the tactics you thought were free actually cost money or that there are other areas of your business that need more attention and funding.
The key is to make sure you know how much revenue you hope to gain from a specific activity so that you can set proper expectations with your staff and clients. Once you’ve set your budget, write down a schedule of when you’ll implement each marketing tactic. Keep in mind that some tactics like print advertising have long lead times and may not yield results for several months, so be sure to build time into your plan for that to happen.
Creating a marketing plan doesn’t have to be overwhelming or expensive. By following these tips and doing the proper research, you’ll be able to make strategic choices about how you spend your marketing budget instead of dumping all of it into one particular tactic that doesn’t yield good results.
When done correctly, marketing can help you drive traffic to your business, capture and convert new customers, and keep loyal clients coming back time after time. A well-formulated marketing plan gives you the framework necessary to accomplish these goals while providing some peace of mind that all of your angles are covered.