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Rob Beadle

Copywriter for small businesses

Rob Beadle

Copywriter for small businesses

How Your Small Business Can Start a Marketing Plan and Make it Stick

It’s that time of year.

Time to look ahead. Plan out the year. Set new goals.

Often our goals lead to ideas about promoting our business in a new way or re-starting a marketing activity that had fallen by the wayside.

An email marketing plan, an extra social media tool or a new blog, perhaps?

But the age-old problem is, how do you make it stick?

Reality sets in pretty quickly, especially when you run a small business. Your new initiative can easily get pushed down the to do list.

I want to give you some tips on how to start a new marketing plan for your business and keep it going whilst you’re still running the rest of your business.

1. Brainstorm All of Your Ideas onto Paper

To start with, are you clear on what goal you want to focus on?

You’ve got a sea of good ideas, so which ones do you pick?.

But, before you can get decide on which ones to invest your time in, you need to get those ideas out of your head.

Keeping them in your head makes it tricky to filter, organise and prioritise them.

The best way to start is to get all of your good ideas onto paper. Post-it notes are ideal for this but any small pieces of paper will do.

Write down each idea or initiative you’ve been thinking of on a separate Post-it. Keep it short, so you won’t forget your ideas.

Your ideas also start to become tangible once you write them down.

Next, you need a large area to spread out the Post-its you can organise your ideas. A white-board is ideal for this, but otherwise, you can use a blank wall or a table.

This allows you to think about the ideas objectively.

If you’ve got some that are similar or related, group them together. Ideas that need to happen in a particular sequence can be ordered.

2. Decide on Your Priorities – What’s Your Most Important Idea?

Once you’ve captured your ideas and begun to organise them, it’ll be clear how many you have.

However, without narrowing them down, you’ll spread your time too thinly.

When your ideas are just thoughts in your creative head they all seem really important, urgent and worthy of your time.

But, now you’ve started to organise your ideas, you need to use your business head to prioritise them.

Your business will benefit much more from a single idea that is developed, implemented and followed consistently.

When we try to put multiple ideas into practice at the same time, we become overwhelmed and none of them actually happen.

So, how do you decide on your priorities?

The main guide should be what your current business goals are. The marketing idea that you focus on should be the one that will have the most impact on your goals.

So, if you want to get more traffic to your website, then a high priority should be to add a blog.

Similarly, if you want to reach a new group of customers, adding a new social media channel should be at the top of your list.

Another way to decide on your priority is to research on what other successful businesses have done. There’s a wealth of information and advice on the internet and elsewhere to give you some pointers.

Finally, if you’re still unclear on what to prioritise, just pick one, anyone!

This is not as daft as it sounds.

No decision is always worse than a bad decision.

Your business needs to keep moving forward. Avoiding a decision causes inertia and hurts a business.

3. Give Yourself a Realistic Timescale

When you start something new, you’re on a learning curve.

It won’t work overnight.

To begin with, it can feel slow, uncomfortable and difficult.

It will take time to get your plan off the ground, to find what works for your business and what doesn’t.

Many great ideas take time to evolve and take-off.

If you’ve decided to prioritise the idea as one that matters to you and your business, give it the time and space to grow, adapt and mature.

Think about how long you want to test your idea for. When you want to incorporate feedback into your plan. Also, consider what else is happening in your business or industry at the same time.

If you start your plan at a time when you’re distracted by year end, training or a busy sales period, you won’t be able to judge the results in a fair way.

4. Start Slowly and Keep It Going Consistently

Spoiler alert.

The tortoise beats the hare.

Every time.

Small, incremental and consistent effort reaps you the results. Rushing, stop/start or chopping and changing from one idea to another won’t pay off.

As well as planning a realistic time to try out your idea, also think about your pace and rhythm.

When you establish and maintain a regular rhythm you increase your chances of success.

Keep following your plan consistently, rather than multiple ideas inconsistently.

5. Track Your Progress and Adapt from What You Learn

Once you’re up and running with your new marketing plan you need to assess how it’s going.

If the proof of the pudding is in the eating, then tracking progress is the main course.

This is where you find out what works, what doesn’t and what else you learn.

While you monitor progress you can also apply what you’ve learnt. You’ll have ideas about changes you can do now as well as ones which will take longer to apply.

Don’t worry if the idea doesn’t turn out as you originally intended.

The real learning only starts once you try to make the idea happen.

The important thing is that you’ve got to the stage of being able to see if your plan works, how it works and how it could work better.

6. Start a Second Plate Spinning

When you prioritised your ideas, did you struggle to identify your top one, as opposed to a top two or three?

That’s quite natural. Given how many opportunities there are vs how much time you have for your small business.

It’s important not to try and start everything at the same time.

However, once your first idea is under control, it will need less of your time and attention.

So, you can now start a second plate spinning without worrying that the first will be dropped.

Follow the same process as you did with your first idea – start it slowly and consistently.

7. Keep on Spinning

Now you’ve got two ideas on the go, you need to keep them both spinning.

Check them and balance your time so that one does not dominate the other.

The time will come when one of the ideas hits some problems and require significantly more of your attention. Remember to monitor the other idea during this time.

Now you can keep on spinning!

8. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Help

The last step is to use the help and support from those around you.

Whether it be a regular check in with a friend or colleague, or some advice and support from an expert.

You’ve got a lot to keep on top of running your own business but there is help available when you get stuck.

In Summary

Running a small business means you have to stay on your toes with new marketing techniques, ideas and initiatives. However, when you start a new plan it’s important to approach it in a structured way to help you succeed.

Prioritisation is key so you can focus your efforts on what will have the biggest impact to your business. Begin at a pace you can maintain. See how your idea develops, but also give yourself enough time to judge how well it’s working.

Once your idea is stable and working, you can pick up another and repeat the process.

What new marketing plans are you starting this year and how are they going?

Photo Credit: Francesco Gallarotti on Unsplash