"If you don't know where you are going, any road will take you there." Lewis Carroll
So you've created a website, started a blog, done some social media marketing but nothing seems to be delivering an increase in business. So what's the problem?
The problem isn't necessarily what you're doing but why you're doing it!
When I first start working with my clients one of the first questions I ask is whether they have a business plan. And in 90% of cases the answer is no.
That's not to say that many small business owners don't have an idea of where they want to take their business but they haven't documented the goals and broken down the steps of how they're going to get there.
Many people think that a business plan is only relevant when you first start up or for larger organisations but for me having a regularly updated business plan is the cornerstone of a successful, growing business.
In fact many people are a little confused as to why I even ask about a business plan in the first place.
"But I just want to know what I should be doing to market my business?"
Well here's the thing: a decent marketing strategy and subsequent tactical plan should always be built off understanding the overall business goals. Your business goals and your marketing strategy should go hand in hand.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not talking about producing documents for the sake of it. I'm all for keeping things simple! But I guarantee you'll feel more confident about your business if you follow a few basic steps.
For me there are 3 stages to this process:
1. Develop your business plan
I'm not talking about some convoluted document that you spend weeks producing and then drop it in a drawer to gather dust.
I've seen some really effective one-page business plans that define the overall goals for the business and some of the key metrics that define what success looks like.
There are heaps of different models and templates out there but essentially your business plan should give a brief summary of:
Why you're in business: what problems do you solve for your customers
Your value proposition: what makes you different
What resources you have both in terms of finances and people
What your short and medium-term goals are
A summary of your marketing strategy: who are you targeting and what does the market look like
2. Develop your marketing strategy
This should be a key element of the business planning process as marketing is usually the means by which you are going to hit your business goals!
Many people confuse marketing strategy and a marketing plan. Put simply your strategy is about defining the goals you need to reach with your marketing efforts. Your marketing strategy is the 'what' and the marketing plan is the 'how'. In other words, the strategy is the 'thinking' and the plan is the 'doing'.
Problems arise when people jump to the 'how' without first knowing the 'what'! I've seen too many small businesses waste valuable time and resources doing marketing activity with no real aim. How can you know if you're being successful if you haven't identified the target?