Did you read the title of this article and think to yourself, grimly, that it's something that you should probably read? Believe me, I understand. As a small business owner myself, I know that there are a number of aspects of running a small business that are anything but fun. And there are a lot of necessary tasks, like marketing, that can seem daunting when you try to get started with them. But the reality is that, if your small business is going to succeed, you need to have a marketing plan. And you know what else is part of that reality? That it really doesn't have to be an overwhelming experience.
Organizing your marketing for your small business seems like it must be a really big thing. It must involve planning and financial budgeting and areas of public relations that you don't know anything about, right? Wrong. Organizing your marketing can start with really simple steps; steps that may involve things that you are already doing as part of your normal business routine. So, get the grim look off of your face and get ready to dig into the organizational process of your marketing plan.
STEP ONE: Brainstorming for Small Business Marketing
First things first, if you really want to get organized about your marketing, you should start by brainstorming a list of all of the possible ways that your company could market itself. You can do this by yourself, with your business partners or even with friends who are familiar with your work; sometimes that outside perspective can be more valuable than you'd imagine. Don't think of this as a daunting task; all that you're doing is making a list of all of the ways that you can let people know about your business. Include everything from the basic stuff that you're probably already doing (like handing out business cards) to the off-the-wall stuff that you might never do. Brainstorming is allowed to include everything.
STEP TWO: Sorting the list
Once you've got your brainstorming list, you can take a look at it and sort it into categories. This is where the organizing begins to happen. The categories that you choose can vary depending upon what makes the most sense for your brain and your business. Perhaps you'll want to sort the list into "marketing we're already doing, marketing we could do in the near future, and marketing for maybe-some-day". Or maybe your categories will be by cost, by manpower needed or by some other system.
STEP THREE: Make it into a timeline
Once you've sorted out your list, you can turn it into a basic timeline for realistically implementing the marketing that you've decided could be a possibility for your business. The easy things can be done immediately (things like adding your website to your automatic email signature) while the things that require more effort and money can be done over time. Since your list is already sorted, it should be relatively easy to come up with a basic timeline for implementing some of your strategies.
STEP FOUR: Start over
Go through this entire process on a regular basis. Whenever you think of something that would be good for marketing (perhaps you read it in an article online or it comes to mind during a conversation), write it down and drop it into a file. Periodically check the file and use what's there to start a new brainstorming list. More and more ideas will come to you each time that you go through this process, giving you an increasingly developed marketing plan over time.
Marketing. It's just a word. It doesn't have to be an overwhelming part of running your business. Instead, it's something that you can easily work into your regular business routine, improving your sales and increasing your efficiency as a company over time. So, what are you waiting for? Get started!