Strategic Marketing for Small Businesses: Introduction
It’s often tough for small business owners to transition from tactical, day-to-day operations into the realm of strategic direction. Marketing your small business is one of those areas where small business owners often get thrust into the role of a strategist since we need to hand off the work to an expert staffer or third party. We’re used to being involved in everything from design to acquisition, so it can be difficult to allow someone else to carry out the responsibilities associated with day-to-day marketing.
On the other hand, handing off tasks can be incredibly liberating. Now, you can cast a vision and cut your team loose to carry it out. But there are some important considerations to understand when transitioning to marketing strategy development, as opposed to day-to-day operations.
This article is an introduction to a series on strategic marketing for small businesses and begins with a discussion on organizing your company for a marketing strategy that doesn’t involve you directly in terms of operations. (Those small business owners who are only a team of one can still draw from the tips in this article and in the upcoming parts of the series, but ignore the “team” aspects discussed.)
In the upcoming weeks, we’ll cover the following points for strategic marketing:
- Knowing Your Audience
- Media and Consistent Integration
- Collaborate, Distribute, and Test
For now, read on to find out about the keys to success in collaborating with your team on your new marketing strategy.
Consider developing a formal marketing strategy document that you can send to various managers or third parties who will be managing the different aspects of your campaign. The goal is to involve everyone— even those outside of marketing.
There are thousands of right ways to put together a formal marketing plan, so don’t get too caught in the formalities. For instance, your plan could be a simple document full of bullet points for quick reading and easy understanding, listing social media sites, banner ads, PPC, and other strategies you plan to implement or have already implemented. The idea is to let those in operations, accounting, finance, and other groups become aware of the direction your company is going, so they can adjust if needed.
This also guides your marketing team, which can include many staffers, third party firms, or just a few folks. If there’s a question in your absence, then a marketing plan can guide the team in decision-making and provide a general set of guidelines.
Marketing, especially of a product, entails many different departments working together for a main cause: getting the public to buy what you are selling. However, because different departments within a company handle singular aspects of the product, deciding on a common approach to marketing can be difficult.
Finding common ground within sales, advertising, marketing, and operations departments of a company (or even just between you and your business partner) is key to successful implementation of a product or of providing services to the public.
All departments should understand, at least somewhat, the different perspectives and then decide what is the common motivation driving each group. Therefore, ask each department/persons involved to write up individual development plans. Doing so can eliminate unnecessary misunderstandings that each group may have and not even realize. This practice can also help direct a meeting more efficiently when all the groups come together. After the groups have documented how they feel their part is important to implementing the new product or service, they can come together and present their plan as a unified whole.
Because the personalities of each group tend to be so different, it is important that each area of the company understands each other’s focus and contribution in the chain. Enough cannot be said about how each group fully recognizing the roles of other departments leads to unity and empathy, helping the entire company as a result.
“Know what other companies you are up against” seems like common sense. However, does everyone involved understand this obstacle? Perhaps not.
The sales department most likely has the best idea of whom they are competing against, but the operations department, for example, probably does not. If all parties involved understood this challenge, then products could be designed and tailored to the needs of the consumer in a way that the competitor is not providing.
Leaving key pieces of the company puzzle out of the loop can cause frustration. The operations departments are up close and personal with the product and can often see potential problems that the sales team has no idea about. Again, all contributors have valuable perspectives, and they should be allowed to voice them to those who will be dealing with the public.
When creating a company that runs smoothly, all areas need to be in sync. If the marketing group understands the approach that the sales group is going to take, they can proceed accordingly in their marketing materials. If the operations team understands the method that the sales and marketing teams are going to use, they will know how to handle manufacturing, packaging, and delivery of the product.
It quickly becomes obvious within as well as outside the company when there was little communication as to the knowledge of strategy between different departments. These occurrences speak volumes: the lack of cohesiveness shows little concern for the consumer. Unless you want the message sent to the public that the company motto is “make money, no matter what the consequence,” then a group effort for your marketing strategy is key.
Read part 2 of this series: Strategic Marketing for Small Businesses: Know Your Audience
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