The meetup in February was all about Marketing. We discussed how a new business can go about laying out its marketing strategies on a limited budget and of course the perils of neglecting the importance of a solid marketing plan.
So I thought I would draw out that thread of discussion further and add to the wonderful insights that were shared at the meetup.
Importance of a Marketing Plan
Planning your marketing strategy and activities in advance gives your business focus and saves you time and money in the long run.
But I understand that a small business owner has to wear a hundred different hats. You are the Chief of Marketing, Sales, Finance, Admin, Recruiter and the Bottle Washer as well.
It is insanely overwhelming. However, you don’t have to plan your marketing for the whole year at once. Even a monthly or quarterly plan is better than shooting in the dark all year long.
If you want to grow your business, increase leads, sales and retain clients, a marketing plan has to be your priority even though it feels impossible at times.
One of the points that stood out during our discussion at the meetup was – what excuses people give for not planning out their marketing.
So I thought I’d share the top 3 excuses I always hear for not doing a marketing plan. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one taking the route of least resistance.
1. I AM TOO BUSY. I DON’T HAVE THE TIME.
Work out the time you waste madly reacting to opportunities, coming up with spontaneous ideas, pulling together last minute visuals or marketing materials.
Marketing planning is just like budgeting your money, you need to find a way to budget your time. Set aside two hours a week or even one hour, to devote to growing your business.
Carry a small diary with you at all times to note down the sudden outbursts of ideas you have and stash them away to be worked on only during the ‘marketing plan hour’ every week/month.
If you put aside some time upfront even if its weekly or monthly to think about your plan, you WILL save a lot of time and effort.
2. I DON’T HAVE THE MONEY
Outsourcing can be expensive. Times are tough; we’re all feeling it. But can you really afford to neglect the long-term health of your business? You can’t!
So find out which of the so many FREE ways to promote your business best suit your needs.
There are the social networks – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google Plus, etc. Then there is email marketing, content marketing and influencer marketing. Not all of them are free but they can provide you some amazing ROI.
You may not know how to use them. Let’s go back to the internet. There are literally hundreds of thousands of tutorials online explaining every possible marketing question you might have. Use them. Attend workshops and seminars to learn new skills. We at Business Girls hold several such workshops at much reasonable costs as compared to others. And they’re run by women, just like you, who own a small business themselves.
They know what it’s like, they know the restrictions you face. Use the Business Girls groups. Ask questions and you will find women are always very open to sharing their expertise. Invest some time in yourself to learn new skills.
3. I DON’T KNOW WHAT I’M DOING
This goes with the point above. It’s amazing what you can learn from the internet through blogs/articles/tutorials and webinars.
You don’t need to be an expert on everything but you do need to be prepared to call in the experts and ask for advice and help when you get stuck. It’s incredible how many women in the network are prepared to share their experiences.
So I repeat, please do ask questions in the group. Don’t feel afraid to ask a question even if you think it seems stupid. We’re all in the same boat here. And if all else fails maybe you need to invest in some marketing expertise to help you define your strategy and achieve your goals by picking the right opportunities for your business.
My point is, marketing IS doable for small businesses even if you think otherwise. The tactics aren’t as time-consuming or difficult as you think they are. Invest some time in yourself to grow your skill set and you WILL get there. And remember that having a solid marketing plan is still one of the key priorities for your small business to succeed.
Read more about the February meet up here.