When building a marketing strategy for your small business from scratch, you might what to start with some free tactics to lessen the impact on your marketing budget. It's a good way to gain more information about the target audience and the overall market for your business, product, or service.
Fortunately, we have a handful of marketing tools that can help you identify the basic building blocks needed to create your marketing strategy. Check out these three free or almost free tools to start building a marketing strategy of your own.
It's very tempting to skip the upfront work and research and move directly to promoting your business. This is the cause of many marketing missteps. Few are gifted in knowing exactly what their target needs. This is why we recommend following a process.
There are three key elements of any good marketing strategy. The first step is to articulate your Brand Strategy, clearly and simply. This requires that you define your market segment.
The target market segment is part of the market where your product or service holds the most value.
The next step is to understand what characteristics the people in that segment share in common, like, income or education, for example.
Finally, we need to take all those abstract bits of data and create a persona, or representation of a real human being. Ideally, that person looks a lot like your existing customers.
This where our first tactic can help you.
Performing marketing research might sound like a boring and tedious time, but it is vital. Identifying the proper audience for your marketing message is essential. It sets the stage for everything that follows. Without a solid target audience and persona, it's very hard to create relevant content that will motivate them to act. This is where marketing research comes into play.
Desktop marketing research is a free tactic that business owners can use to identify and begin to understand their audience, the first step in building a strategy. Victoria Treyger wrote an article about free marketing research tactics, and there are services that we offer as well.
But if you’re performing your own marketing research, you'll want to divide the market into distinct sections and understand how each differs from the other. More importantly, it's critical to know why they differ. It usually requires you to go deeper than age, gender, etc.
Sources for ideas can come through social networks, google search, blog posts. These can help you look beyond just the basics and begin to understand their motivations and needs. This is critical for the next step to build a marketing strategy is to develop your marketing message.
This leads to our second tactic…
Building a brand message for your small business marketing strategy is crucial, but oftentimes you can’t do it for free. However, you have a resource that is at your disposal already – your existing customers. If you ask, they will likely tell you why they like and don't like it.
They can also give you insight into why they chose you versus someone else. This is important because your brand message needs to outline your benefit clearly and explain why it is different from others.
An article on Search Engine Watch talks about a number of free ideas you can use to build a brand messaging strategy for your marketing campaign.
Other ways your customers can help is through word of mouth, referral programs, for example. Even business cards can be effective when tied to a discount or promotion.
The final factor in any marketing strategy is to decide how your message will be sent. It is getting harder to boost your digital presence for free or almost free, but it's not impossible. Content marketing via social media requires effort, but it provides you with the opportunity to present yourself and your brand as a thought leader. Also, if the content is valuable enough, your audience might be willing to provide their email address to get it.
Website design and SEO are linked. If you are blessed with both creative and technical skills, you can still find relatively inexpensive ways to use both to get your brand heard and noticed.
It can be difficult to make a completely digital marketing strategy, but if you’re looking for a free or cheap way to build your business’s profile, you will benefit from a digital presence, especially if you are an e-commerce business or an entrepreneur.
Here are the three free tactics we recommend for building a marketing strategy, especially a local one.:
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Brian Cairns, CEO of Prostrategix Consulting. Over 25 years of business experience as a corporate executive, entrepreneur, and small business owner. For more information, please visit my LinkenIn profile
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