The 5 Essential Steps to Marketing Any Business
Where does any business start marketing? And by this, we don’t mean which channels to choose – “Oh, let’s market on Facebook, or “Let’s advertise on Google.” What we mean is how do you take in the full picture, considering everything you need to do when it comes to promoting your business in a wholistic manner?
- Planning and Strategy
- Tools & Tactics
Step 1: Planning & Strategy
The most successful businesses develop marketing plans. Period. Do you have to do one? Of course not. But that would be equivalent to running an offense in football without any plays. You could wing it and hope for the best – and sometimes you might even succeed! But over time, you’ll run up against bigger competitors who have a plan and they will continue to do better with their marketing because it’s well thought-out and all coordinated.
One the dirty little secrets of our field is that even many marketers don’t plan, they just dive in and do. But taking the time to plan is critical. For those who need help, you can download our free guide to How to Develop a Modern-Day Marketing Plan. It will walk you through the basics and help you draw up your own plan based on your unique business and industry. Among the many questions to consider in this phase:
- What’s the overall end goal of the marketing? And what are the markers along the way (KPIs) that will show I’m successful? How am I going to measure my activities?
- What part of the marketing funnel (buyer journey) am I targeting? With which channels?
- What’s the budget and/or resources am I going to dedicate to marketing overall and for each channel?
- Who am I targeting and based on what research?
- What marketing channels should I use (if thinking about your overall marketing)?
Step 2: Approach
Based on your marketing plan, you have to then start thinking about your approach – something that aims to answer “how” you will accomplish what you’ve set out to do. Typically, the approach is based on establishing your narrative / brand identity upfront, and then connecting that narrative to the needs of your particular audience/industry. As you go further, the approach might then include choosing the content types and content style (tone, voice, and what we would call one of the six “content approaches”: social currency, triggers, emotion, public, practical, and storytelling). While the questions in this stage might vary in each digital marketing channel, overall, you’ll generally want to consider the following:
- What “campaigns” (and within what individual channels) will I put together?
- What’s the tone, voice, or purpose (content approach) of what I’m pushing out the audience?
- What “type” of content will be most effective for me based on the audience I’ve defined?
- What’s the value proposition to the target audience? How am I helping them?
Step 3: Tools & Tactics
So, let’s split this up into two areas. First, we’ll cover tools. Each digital marketing area has a unique set of tools. One of the things that we often see with many businesses is that they don’t know how to use tools in particular areas, aren’t aware of all the capabilities, or they don’t even know some exist. As a small business, it’s especially important to research tools upfront in any given area whether that’s social, email, advertising, content, or any design tool or app. If you do that, you’ll not only save yourself time later (many of the tools help you do things more efficiently – an example might be these marketing tools that we list in another article – but also often help you save money on paying someone else to do it for you. Depending on your overall strategy, you’ll also certainly want to budget for certain tools that can help you advance your marketing. We recommend some of these in the linked post above.
Similar to the tools, each marketing area you go into will have its own tactics. And it’s important to strategize about the tactics you’ll use before you implement. Let’s take email as an example. With email, your tactics might include the following:
- Keeping your subject line short and catchy and making sure your preview text compliments the subject line but doesn’t repeat it
- Making sure any email you send comes from a “person”
- Keeping the email body copy short
- Creating compelling call-to-action-button text and making sure it stands out.
Think of marketing tactics for any area as the things you do that drive audiences to that next funnel stage of the purchase or conversion process. So, it’s important to research the following and make sure to consider best practices for each of the funnel stages overall. You can ask yourself:
- What makes my target audience respond/engage? How do I target them?
- What’s the best way (delivery mechanism such as content, social, email, advertising) to make potential audiences aware of my product/services?
- What’s the frequency with which I put my business in front of them?
- What copy, image, or video will trigger them to act?
- Once they’re aware of my business, how do I get them to convert, purchase, or call me?
- After they become a customer, how do I best engage them? How do I get a positive review?
- Overall, how do I improve my ROI?
Step 4: Implementation
From any operations standpoint, this is really the execution piece of what any business needs to do. So based on the plan, the approach, and the identified tools and tactics, your business has to develop content assets, schedule, post, send, and update. For digital marketing, what that means in particular is paying attention to details as you launch new marketing efforts. When you do any marketing implementation – regardless of the channel you’re in – we recommend setting up repeatable processes upfront, such as having a checklist that you follow for everything you do. More than ever before, marketing today is really about implementing little things well. For example, if you’re developing content for most website pages, it typically makes sense to use a SEO checklist that will remind you of all the things that have to be done for your page to rank well in Google. Most small businesses should also set up a copyediting workflow before any marketing collateral goes live.
Finally, with any marketing channel, it will save you tons of headaches if you simply define all the things you need to do upfront every time you send an email, place an ad, develop a piece of written content, develop any video content, post in social, etc. If you can’t find it here on Marketing Nice Guys (we cover most of the best practices in different areas), you can also do a simple search in Google to give you ideas as well.
Step 5: Optimization
These days, no effective small business simply “sets it and forgets it” when it comes to marketing. Instead, what they do is analyze data, make determinations, and optimize for incremental gains in each digital marketing channel. These optimizations and data also feed back into the planning and strategy, approach, and tools and tactics and implementation phases so you can continuously strive for better results. After all, once you analyze any data set, you might need to adjust any number of things along the way. The important piece here, of course, is data. Google Analytics provides a great start, but there’s also data you can compile from your email/marketing automation platform, social channels, advertising channels, and a lot more. Making sure you’re getting not only accurate data, but understanding how to interpret it correctly is what really matters.
We hope this helps. At Marketing Nice Guys, we’re happy to walk through any of the steps with you, as well as provide support in any area, so that you can promote your business successfully. Contact us anytime for a free consultation and let’s discuss your specific marketing needs.