by Daniela Baker at CreditDonkey
Every business, large or small, needs a marketing plan to avoid making costly errors. Unfortunately, all too many business operate their marketing on a fly-by-the-seat-of-their-pants sort of method. They don’t have much of a plan in place, and if they do, they don’t really follow it. While this might seem to make your business’s marketing techniques more flexible, it actually can cost you a ton – both in extra money spent and in opportunities missed – in the long run. Here are just a few common mistakes businesses make and how they can be avoided with a good marketing plan.
Not having a defined message
While it can be difficult to boil your business and its goals and offerings down to a rote speech of a few sentences, this is absolutely essential. Too many businesses are vague about what they do, what makes them different, and what they have to offer. This is terrible for your public image and for sales. Ideally, your salespeople should have your business boiled down to a single twenty-second speech that they can deliver from anywhere, and all of your salespeople – and everyone else who is part of your business- should be on the same page about what this short message is.
One of the main components of a marketing plan should be a written version of this small speech that tells people exactly what your business is and what it does. By taking the time to think through your business’s message and put it in writing, you’ll get everyone on the same page and be able to offer customers a concise idea of what you’re all about.
Lack of understanding about your current customer base
Too many small business owners assume they know who their current customer base is, but they really don’t take the time to do the research. Even if your customer base was from a certain demographic a year ago, that may have changed in the past few months. Part of a marketing plan is doing real, numbers-based research to find out what your customer base is really like and who is really purchasing from your business.
Not understanding your customer base can lead to other major marketing problems, such as using old marketing techniques that are no longer reaching the customers who are really interested in your business now. Having a marketing plan that gets regularly updated with information about your customers is essential to marketing well.
Spending money in the wrong areas
This mistake is often linked to the problem of not researching the customer base. Part of researching your customer base is understanding how that customer base can best be reached through marketing. Are you dealing with a local crowd who will be impacted by television commercials? Do you need to be using social networking to get younger customers on board?
Having no marketing plan often means haphazard marketing spending, which leads you to spend money in the wrong areas, so that you aren’t getting the best possible return on your investment. By planning your marketing campaigns carefully and thoroughly, you’ll be able to spend money in the right places so that you’ll get the best possible return on your investment.
Not having a budget
Failing to set a budget for your marketing can lead to overspending or even underspending. Obviously, spending too much on marketing is a problem because it leaves less money for your business to work with in other vital areas. Spending too little on marketing, though, can leave you without the boost to your bottom line that marketing is meant to bring in the first place!
Part of a marketing plan is laying out your marketing budget, whether that’s an annual, semi-annual, or monthly budget. Look at what you have available to spend, and then work with your marketing budget to get the most impact for every dollar.
Small business credit cards for marketing
As a small business owner, you need to be able to have the cash on hand to spend on marketing. As long as you maintain a reliable budget, you can consider business credit cards with rewards. It can give you the cash boost you need to get your marketing plan going. In the long run, spending on marketing is one of your best bets, since a good marketing plan can bring in new customers and boost your business’s bottom line.
Not tracking results
Finally, all too many businesses market without actually tracking the results they’re getting from their marketing. This is a fatal mistake because it leads to marketing inefficiency. How will you know which marketing techniques and campaigns work if you aren’t spending any time tracking results from different marketing campaigns and options?
In your marketing plan, it’s essential to set out certain marketing goals and to have concrete ways to track these goals. You should be able to track the overall growth of your business due to marketing, as well as the success of individual marketing campaigns, such as blog giveaways or Facebook marketing.