Have you chosen a single marketing strategy and supporting tactics for your small business?

I’m always telling people to do LESS marketing so they can make MORE money.

That seems odd and counter-intuitive doesn’t it?

But, if you want to gain a competitive advantage,  attract more leads and simplify your day-to-day marketing efforts to reach your marketing goals,

Look, just because some super-star marketing expert made millions off of [insert anything from Google Ads to Email marketing or webinars] doesn’t mean that this is going to work for you.

You do You.

Having said that.  I thought I’d give you some checklists or templates for each of the three potential small business marketing strategies you might choose.

Here is a marketing strategy infographic that will describe each marketing strategy and the tactics that go with it:

You can also take a quick quiz to help you choose which of these strategies is best for you!

Marketing strategies are the general marketing channels and vehicles a business uses to attract leads and convert them to customers.  Marketing tactics are the specific actions a business takes inside of the strategy. Content marketing is a strategy, writing three blog posts per week is a tactic.

Direct Marketing Strategy Template

If you get the bulk of your business from referrals — this is a direct marketing strategy in action.  Most main street businesses, local service businesses, and restaurants live and die by direct marketing.  Manufacturers and retailers where sales are made face-to-face or by phone calls are also using a direct marketing strategy.

In a lot of ways, direct marketing requires more resources than you might think.  If you aren’t doing the selling yourself, you will need to invest in any or all of the following: email marketing, marketing materials, salespeople.

Unless your product or service is the talk of the town — direct marketing requires resources. Here’s how to get started to make the most of your time and money.

1. Create a simple one-page marketing plan.

This should take no more than an hour. This will get your focused on what sets you apart from the competition and how you’re going to get and keep customers. Grab your one-page marketing template here:


2. Map out all of your customer “touch-points”.

Think about your ideal customer and where they spend all of their time.  Where are you most likely to bump into your ideal customer?

3. Start with what you have.

Some businesses have emails, some have a great social media presence. Which are you? Start with what you have, even if it’s a stack of business cards or old invoices you haven’t touched in a year or two — those are potential customers and referrers.

4. Create your customer journey.

In what ways will you reach out to your customer? How will they find you and how will you guide them toward a purchase? This is a critical element because it will help you identify your best tactics for getting new business?  Before doing this, you might think you need to hire a salesperson – but after, you might realize that email will do the trick.  That’s a big difference in dollars!

5. Find sales and marketing automation tools.

With or without salespeople you will need to choose some marketing automation tools to handle the repetitive communication tasks for your business such as sending email newsletters or informing customers of specials and staying engaged on social media.

6. Run your process yourself.

I recommend running your process for at least one to three selling cycles (depending on your industry). Your goals should be to run new customers through the process and run existing customer through the marketing process.  Are you attracting leads, are you converting leads to customers and are you re-selling or upselling existing customers?

7. Hire someone to run your system.

Having built your sales and marketing system and automated most of these processes, you’ve built consistency and quality into the system. Now you can hire someone to run it or manage it or work inside of it.

 

Content Marketing Strategy Template

If your customers are searching for answers to questions or looking for videos on how to do something your company does — content marketing is a great strategy. Typically subject matter experts such as social media experts, photographers, lawyers or landscapers or repair businesses can successfully use content marketing to find customers.

To be successful at content marketing, you’ll also need to become somewhat knowledgeable about search engine optimization (SEO).  You don’t need to be an SEO expert, but you do need to know what keywords your customers are searching for where your business should appear on the first page of Google.

Here is your marketing process.

1. Identify keywords and keyword phrases

What phrase will people type in that will put YOU at the top of Google?  Start with something general and then start digging into more detailed phrases (long-tail keywords).  For example “Basement waterproofing Cleveland, OH”

2. Create primary topic categories around your area of expertise.

If you’re a business accountant or CPA, you might have the following categories: Business Structure, Bookkeeping, State Taxes, Federal Taxes, Expenses, etc.

3. Create a guide for each of your categories.

Each of these guides will give your readers an overview of the general category.  The best types of guides are buyer guides or how-to guides.

4. Make a list of frequently asked questions.

Make a list of frequently asked questions and answer them. You can group your questions and answers into categories and turn those into articles, you can also create a FAQ (frequently asked questions) page on your website.

5. Write and schedule at least three articles per week to publish.

If you haven’t published any articles or blog posts, start with 10 articles and schedule them to publish about every other day or three times per week for about a month.

6. Create social shares for each article.

I use CoSchedule to do this and it saves me about 20 hours per week (read my CoSchedule Review for the details.) After you write your article, create social shares for each platform and have them run across about 60 days.  Manually, that’s insane — but with CoSchedule it just takes about 10 minutes per article.

7. Participate and engage online.

EVERYTHING is content.  Everything.  If you’re running a content marketing strategy, you are branding yourself as an expert. That means you need to participate on social platforms.  Join Facebook groups, Tweet Chats and be active on LinkedIn.

8. Rinse, repeat, stay focused.

This is all there is.  The hardest thing about this process is staying focused on your keywords, creating great content and engaging online.

Content marketing is a long game — I like to call it “farming.”  You find your field, you choose what you’re going to plant, you plant, you water, you nurture and you keep doing that until you see your garden grow.  It takes time and persistence.  You don’t bail on your garden because seeds didn’t sprout in a week.

(PPC) Paid Advertising Strategy Template

A paid advertising strategy is ideal for small businesses that sell products in a specific niche.  The more specific your niche, the cheaper your ad spend will be.  I have a friend who runs a multi-million dollar plastics manufacturing company and gets all of his customers from Google Advertising.

1. Develop at least one irresistible offer.

Advertising won’t work unless you have something very specific to sell.  Think about your ideal customer and craft a very specific offer just for them.

2. Create a landing page.

With your offer developed create a landing page with a unique link that you will include in your ad.

3. Test your landing page.

Landing page tools like LeadPages or Unbounce are a great first step.  They let you do A/B testing with landing pages.  That means that you can create multiple versions of a landing page and see which one performs the best.

4. Decide on your advertising budget.

This will vary based on the industry that you are in and what you are selling. Have enough money in your budget for at least 6 months.

5. Pick a platform based on where your ideal customer spends their time.

The main advertising platforms are Google Adwords and Facebook.  But, depending on who your customer is, you may choose LinkedIn or Pinterest.  If you’ve taken the time to do your research (in step 1 of the marketing process) you will have this answer.

6. Learn the basics about how to advertise on your chosen platform.

Every platform is unique and requires a specific skill set to be successful at advertising.

7. Hire an expert freelancer or firm

Look for someone who has a lot of experience with advertising on your chosen platform.  Don’t just fall for their sales pitch. Ask for references. Call those references.  Find out what worked and what didn’t.

8. Come up with several ad campaigns.

You’ll need several versions of ads to see which performs the best.  The expert you work with should have tools that will help them research the competition and come up with a high-converting ad.

9. Be ready to run ads for at least 6 months.

If you’ve never done advertising before, you will have a learning curve.  The length of time will depend on your product or service. It will take about 6 months to figure out what works.  But once you do, you are on set it and forget it mode.

 

A lot of small business owners either hate selling or they don’t have the money to hire salespeople.  If this sounds like you — consider paid advertising.  It’s cheaper than a full-time sales rep and it’s literally a numbers game.  Once you’ve identified a winning formula for your ads, the more money you throw at it, the more customers it will deliver.

The key to success with Paid Advertising is paying attention to keywords, crafting high-converting ads and creating high-converting landing pages.

Don’t be disappointed with your initial results.  It takes some tweaking and optimizing to hit on what works.