How to Build a Marketing Strategy from Scratch (Without Any Employees)
As an owner-operator business, it’s common to feel like you don’t have time for marketing. In reality, marketing is one of the most important hats you wear as a self-employed business owner. Marketing builds awareness of your company, generates leads, and convinces prospective customers to make a purchase.
Marketing is also daunting. Is it possible to build a successful marketing strategy when you don’t have a background in design or marketing? Who is your audience and what is the best way to reach them? And how can you measure the return on investment of your marketing dollars?
There’s a lot that goes into marketing a business, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Use this quick guide from The Bitter Business to learn what it takes to build a one-person marketing department and start growing your small business.
Define your target audience
Your target audience is the consumers most likely to buy your products or services. Characteristics that define a target audience include demographics, psychographics, and behavior.
Google Analytics, Facebook Audience Insights, and your CRM are the best tools to start learning about your audience. Keyword research deepens your understanding by revealing what customers are searching for online.
Identify your top marketing channels
The next step is identifying the optimal marketing channels to reach your audience. Marketing channels include your website along with social media networks, email, blogs, mobile apps, and other digital channels. It also includes traditional marketing methods like flyers and brochures, direct mail, and referral programs.
Your choice of marketing channel should be based on your:
- Budget. Digital marketing is typically more affordable than traditional marketing, although certain traditional methods are cost-effective for local businesses.
- Marketing goals. Some marketing channels excel at lead generation (e.g., SEO, content marketing) while others build awareness and engagement (social media, email marketing).
- Demographics. The best channels for your company depend on your typical customer’s age, gender, and interests and whether you’re targeting B2B or B2C buyers. For example, TikTok is popular among Gen Z while older users and B2B customers flock to LinkedIn.
Develop a messaging strategy
It’s not just where you market that matters. How you get your message across is just as important. Messaging should align your brand’s identity and unique value proposition with the things your customers care about.
Most brands have multiple messaging strategies for different buyer personas and marketing channels. Consider how to frame your value proposition for different customers based on their priorities, interests, and position in the customer journey. Download this messaging matrix for help mapping out your messaging strategy.
Use software to streamline and automate
Marketing tools let you do more with less. This is the must-have marketing tech stack along with popular choices for each category;
- Email marketing (Mailchimp, Constant Contact)
- Social scheduling (Hootsuite, Buffer)
- Social listening (Mention)
- Graphic creation (Canva)
- Project management (Asana, Trello)
- CRM (Freshworks CRM, Zoho CRM, Keap)
Measure your marketing ROI
How do you know if your marketing efforts are working? First, determine the relevant key performance indicators for your marketing objectives and channels. Consider how these KPIs differ according to marketing channel:
- Email: Open rate, click-through rate, conversions
- Social media: Engagement, followers, click-through rate
- Landing pages and blogs: Traffic, unique visitors, returning visitors, time spent on a page, conversions
Compare data over time to determine your marketing ROI. Year-over-year comparisons provide the most insight into how your marketing efforts perform over time. You can also apply marketing KPIs to compare performance of different targeting and messaging tactics using A/B testing, also known as split testing.
Your marketing strategy might not run like a well-oiled machine right away — and that’s ok! Use these methods to get a basic marketing system up and running. As you launch campaigns and collect data, you’ll hone in on the best ways to reach, nurture, and convert your target audience.
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