six steps marketing plan
marketing

Six Simple Steps to Create a REAL, Working Marketing Plan

Are you frustrated with your marketing?

Do you feel like you’re always chasing “shiny things” that promise to make your marketing (better, faster, easier, cheaper)? Do you feel like creating a marketing plan is too hard and too complicated?

You’re not alone.

This is one of the questions I get asked about the most. So how can a small business or an entrepreneur do the things they SHOULD do around their marketing without spending ALL their time on marketing?

I have a solution.

I have developed a simple, six-step process that should take you no more than a single day to set up and then about three hours a week to maintain. And this includes a blog, social, and email.

Here is how I approach marketing:

–Marketing is a multi-platform effort. No one thing is going to be 100%.

–Your website, social platforms, emails, and brick-and-mortar all need to be aligned around a very clear, single message.

–You have to spend time, money, or some of both. Nothing is free.

–Unless you are willing to spend big, it will take months not weeks to get traction.

–Be a big fish in a couple of ponds – focus your efforts to get in front of ideal audiences rather than being everywhere. Your message and your business is not a great fit for “everyone.”

–Have a plan – and be willing to execute and stay on track even when it feels like nothing is happening.

Ready to finally get your marketing working for you?

–Set aside one full day or two half days to get this done

–Don’t try to get this done a few minutes at time – you need to get in the “marketing mindset” to be most productive.

–Be ready to toss out what isn’t working – or what is not aligned with your goals and mission. Even though you spent time on them, if they are not pulling you forward, they are not contributing and may be distracting both you and your ideal customer.

Ok…let’s GO!

Step One: What is your goal?

Goals should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Results-oriented, and Time-based

–What do you want to achieve? More in-store sales? Foot traffic? Publicity? E-commerce? Greater number of clients served? Be very specific.

–If you have more than one goal, put them in a priority order. It’s much easier to focus and be clear when you are working on a single goal.

–What does success look like? 20% increase in foot traffic? Two more classes monthly? New product line launch? Be very specific.

–How fast do you want/need to achieve your goal? Want versus need are two different things – and can mean different things to your time/money budget. Set out a timeline for achieving your goal.

–Do you have a deadline looming? Is there a new product launch? An annual meeting? How does this effect your goal and timeline?

–Here is a link to more about SMART planning.

Step Two: Mission statement

Craft a mission statement aimed at your ideal client

–Here is a starting point:

I/We are a (describe company) who helps (audience) to (your core business). Our (unique business proposition) allows us to (deliverable).

You might need to tweak the format a bit, but you can see where I am going.

Using that template, here is what my mission statement could look like:

I am a sales funnel marketing company who helps small- to mid-sized businesses to get more customers. My “Turn Leads into Sales” focus allows me to help customers drive more traffic, convert that traffic into leads, and then sell their product or service.

–Write this and then read it out loud (really…use your voice). Keep rewriting and reading until it flows and you really could say this to someone in the time it takes for you to get from the ground floor to the fifth floor. This is called an elevator pitch. 

Refining my pitch from awkward, fill in the blank, to a smooth elevator pitch that I can say out loud:

I help small- to mid-sized companies get more customers by building sales funnels  using email, social, and chat bots that build traffic and turn leads into sales.

Better… but is it too technical?

I help businesses Turn Leads Into Sales with my exclusive marketing system that leverages email and social marketing to get more customers.

This hits all the notes I want: describes my business, adds in why they should be interested, and gives a little information about how we accomplish this.

Put your mission statement front and center.

–Distill it down and use it as your tag line on ALL your social accounts.

–Write it as a mission statement on your website.

–Use it on your email signature (along with links to your social accounts and website).

–Print it out and post it on the wall where customers and employees can see it. Make it poster sized so it’s easy for everyone to see.

–EVERY employee should know it AND understand your mission statement.

–Add it to invoices, letterhead, anything you send out.

Step Three: Update Your Website

I assume you have a website. If you don’t spend a day and get one set up. Here is a post I created about setting one up. It’s not hard and only a little scary.

And before you ask: YES you do need one. Social platforms are not enough.

–Set up an FAQ page on your website that is not only about your business but about your industry. Add to it frequently. Create categories and headings for easy scanning.

–Add a “start here” page to your site. Orient your new users, give them a map and guide them to content that introduces new arrivals to your business. Mission statement is front and center on this page.

–Add a “success story” page where you highlight your successes, customer profiles (get SIGNED WRITTEN permission from any customers that you feature that allows you to use it on your website, publicity, and social accounts and keep it on file). Nothing like social proof.

–Put your mission statement front and center on your website. Visitors should know instantly who you are, who you serve, and what you do.

Step Four: Social

–Pick one or two social platforms – not all. Keep repeating to yourself “big fish, small pond.”

–Select based on where your ideal client hangs out – not where you or your peers hang out.

–Fill out the profiles completely. Add user photos, bios, profiles, links – whatever they will let you add to beef up your presence.

–EVERYTHING on any social presence links back to your website “start here” page.

–Create a business page and/or group and cross-post content from your website to your social accounts to seed the page with content.

–Join 2-3 groups where your ideal customers hang out and you can be helpful. Post content, answer questions, and be helpful. Always include a link back to your “start here” page.

–Add a tab/form to sign up for your email list (see Step Five – Email Marketing).

–Here are some social media templates and cheat sheets to get you started,

Step Five: Email

Daily emails/inquiries

— Create email signatures that include your mission statement, links to social, and (if appropriate) a photo. A face really does ramp up the engagement and remind the recipient that there are real people behind your business.

–Hubspot has a great free signature template

–Outlook builds this into their software. (Create new email > Message > Include > Signature)

–You can add a signature to Gmail using a simple table in Word.

–Every business email you send out should have this signature.

Email marketing

–Sign up for an autoresponder account. An autoresponder email account lets you send out emails to your list on a schedule that you set. Mailchimp lets you have up to 2000 subscribers on a free tier.

–DO NOT try to use your personal or business email account to send out bulk email or manage email marketing. You may end up getting your account suspended.

–Start collecting email addresses so you have a list. An email list simplifies business announcements and connects people.

–Create a simple opt-in form and put it on the front page of your website, and on other pages.

–Ask people on social posts to subscribe to your list. Provide links to make it easy to sign up.

–Most social accounts give you some way to collect email addresses via a tab or form. Your autoresponder may have pre-built forms that you can plug in to your social account.

Email sales funnels

–If you want to use your list for sales, you need to create a plan around the marketing and sales process.

–You will need an autoresponder (such as Mailchimp) to automatically deliver emails on a schedule.

–Write a welcome email for new subscribers telling them about your business, restating your mission, restating your respect for their privacy, and telling them what to expect going forward.

–BONUS: Write 6-10 emails that welcome new subscribers and then lead them down the conversion path to buying your service or product.

Step Six: Create a plan – and execute

Goal:

–Keep your goal from Step One in mind. What do you want to achieve and when do you want to achieve it?

–Constantly reinforce your mission statement. EVERY post, comment, answer, press release should be written through the lens of your VERY SPECIFIC message. Don’t waste time or money with anything off-message.

–Keep your time spent to 3 hours per week.

Website: Once a week – 30 minutes

–Write/post once a week. It does not have to be long. Answer a question once a week and then add the question to your FAQ page. Write about a trend. Talk about the challenges that you face.

–Reference you mission statement in your posts where possible.

Social: Once a week – 15 minutes

–Log in to your one or two social accounts, write a short intro, and post a link to your website post on your social accounts.

–Once a week post something helpful. Post about a question that frequently gets asked, write a short answer, and then ask for input from the community. Dispel a myth about your business. Write about trends or things-you-should-know. Highlight a customer or business success story (with WRITTEN permission). Write a post that you can add to your FAQ page. Write about what is going on this week in your business.

–If possible, commit to a once-weekly FB Live, YouTube channel video, or other video event where you demonstrate something or answer a question on camera. Just 5-10 minutes can convey a lot of information and put a face on your business. Not everyone is comfortable with on-camera, but this builds a lot of traction fast. Casual video is okay – it builds a better, more authentic connection.

Social: 20-30 minutes a day

–Commit to spending about 20-30 minutes daily (really…don’t go down the rabbit hole – 20-30 minutes is plenty) being helpful and answering questions. Set a timer so you don’t look up and two hours have gone by!

–Help people. Seek out questions, write a short answer and then send people back to a longer answer on your FAQ, start here, success story, or a post on your website that references the question/answer.

–Check on posts that you have written and respond back.

–Post lots of images. Images get MUCH higher engagement. Video is even better. Your social activity for the day might simply be a photo and caption of what you’re doing that day. Get signed, written releases from any customers in the photos.

Email: Once a week – 15 minutes

–Send out an email to your list.

–Don’t overcomplicate this. Post updates, answer a question that got asked in the shop or online, a write story about what happened this week. A few paragraphs and an occasional photo (If there are customers, get a signed, written release).

–Repurpose content. If you write a post for social or your website this week, use it for your email.

–Pass along an interested article you read or video you watched that relates to your business. Link back and attribute the original source. Write a few lines about why you’re passing this along.

Old-school media: Once a month – 15 minutes

–For brick and mortar businesses that rely on local traffic, building local buzz is just as important as social (and often overlooked).

–For small digital businesses, your job is to get on the radar as a local expert in your field.

–Send out press releases alerting print and television editors about interesting, local stories. Here is a great resource from Hubspot on writing press releases.

–Make it easy for an editor to say yes. Make your pitch timely, include contact info, write a compelling reason that this merits the attention of their viewers/readers. Winning press releases are written from the point of view of what’s in it for the editor.

–Editors get dozens or hundreds of pitches a week. Don’t get mad or set your expectations around your pitch being picked up. You’re getting on their radar so when they have a story or need an expert, you’re the person they think of.

Spend some money, save some time: Achieve your Step One goal faster.

If you have even a small budget ($50-$100/month) you can invest in advertising.

If you are brick-and-mortar and want to raise your local profile, consider advertising locally. What your ideal customer read and view? Local advertisers can give you detailed demographic information. Newspapers will give you bang for a (smallish) buck if your audience is very local. If you can up your ad spend, consider a local or regional magazine or even TV.

For many businesses, their customers come from all over the world – so they need to expand their audience base beyond local marketing. The two biggest online ad platforms Google AdWords and Facebook Ads cover the broadest audience options.

There are lots of places to spend your advertising dollars including Pinterest, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook and shares an ad platform), Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat. Depending on your audience and goals, one of these other platforms might make more sense.

Another creative approach is YouTube ads. If you are not competing in a high-cost keyword market (diet, exercise, making money) you may be able to find cost-effective ads that run on videos that attract your target audience. Here is an article by Hubspot that details the different types of ads and the pros and cons.

Google AdWords

Here is a great how-to post from Kissmetrics about Google AdWords

Pros:

–Great for local businesses as you can dial down the geographic reach

–If you are non-profit, you may be eligible for free AdWords

Cons:

–It can be tough to get the right balance of messaging, audience, and budget.

–It can be intimidating to navigate the AdWords account settings and find the right keywords to target.

–If you are in a competitive keyword business (fitness, diet, relationships, finance, personal improvement, etc.) it can be hard to find a keyword that you can afford AND that reflects your business. Use the Google Keywords Planner to understand trends and get ideas.

Facebook Ads

Here is a great post from Facebook about getting started with Facebook Ads

Pros:

–Great for wide audience reach.

–You can target audiences fairly precisely

–You select your goal and Facebook presents the ad to audiences most likely to take the action you want

Cons:

–You are still part of the firehose that is the average Facebook feed. It is easy to overlook your ad.

–Getting the right balance of messaging, audience, and budget can take time (and money).

–It can be intimidating to navigate the Facebook Ad dashboard.

–While you can be fairly specific about geography, it is not as flexible as you may need it to be and may present ads to people who are not your customers.

Summary:

Understand your SMART goal.

Write a mission statement that defines who you are, who you serve, and what you do.

Update your website so the mission statement is a prominent part. Add Start Here, FAQ, and Success Stories pages.

Select one or two social accounts where your audience hangs out – not your peers.

Start an email list with an autoresponder account and create a short email welcome sequence.

Create – and execute – your three hour a plan

–Post on your website every week.

–Cross-post on your social accounts every week.

–Send an email to your list every week.

–Spend 20-30 minutes a day on your social accounts being visible and helpful answering questions. Point back to content on your site if it is directly relevant. Link back to your “start here” page on your website if you are just making general posts.

–Bonus points if you can do a Facebook Live or add a short video to your YouTube channel.

–Build a relationship with local media by sending out monthly press releases.

Spend money to save time. If you have the budget, a hyper-targeted AdWords or Facebook Ad can drive traffic to your site and help build engagement.

What is your biggest struggle around your marketing?

Comment below – or even better – send me an email and perhaps I can help.

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