The marketing rules have changed… or have they? It’s an important question to ask because while a huge range of people – from little kids to grandparents – have learnt more about using the internet to do things and buy stuff this year, different industries and categories have been affected in different ways.
Are you aggressively pursuing your competitors’ customers? Are you just trying to survive? Are you simply in a business-as-usual setting? Your context dictates what your objectives should be.
There are some super simple things you can do to sense check whether the way you approached marketing your business at the start of 2020 is still relevant to your consumers.
And it all starts with one thing…
Take one piece of paper, and write a simple plan for the year
Ditch the 100-page plan that you will leave on your desk as a coffee coaster for the year, and write one page that covers off the following things.
- Set some SMART objectives
SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Timely. We all learnt about them in high school, but it’s almost like we’ve forgotten how important they are. And for small businesses, figuring out what they should be depends where the gaps and opportunities in your business are.
For example, you may know that when people contact you on your website there is roughly a 50 per cent chance they will convert into a customer worth about $2000. But there just aren’t enough people on your website. Your SMART objective reveals itself to be: “Increase website traffic across all products by 10% by December 2021”.
Or you may have heaps of website traffic but nowhere near enough people get in touch with you or buy from you online. A SMART objective might be: “Optimise and test our key conversion content on our website by March 2021”.
Super SMART, and they keep you and your staff accountable. Choose two to three, and get stuck into them. Funnily enough, these are also your metrics for success.
- Write down who your target customers are
If you’ve been forced to re-evaluate or pivot your business in the past year, this is important. Have your key customers changed? Have your existing customers changed the way they buy from you? Has your industry taken on a digital transformation?
This is one of those things that will dictate just how much your category has changed thanks to the pandemic. Online shopping obviously spiked, and while it may not directly affect your business, the way your customers research your and your competitors’ products may have.
A simple segmentation of your customers can help focus how you communicate with them.
Be sure to include:
- Segment names (Loyal Repeat Purchasers, or Corporate Number Crunchers, for example)
- Their pain points (Need to see products before buying; extremely time poor etc)
- Their best communication channels (Text message, email, website, outdoor advertising, social media, Friday drinks etc)
- How you can help make their life easy (More product specs online, more service checks etc)
- What position are you using for those customers?
A simple position statement is better than having your corporate values, your key messages, your advertising lines, and all of the other things that gunk up your communications and make things complex. Look at your competitors, look at your business, look at your customers, and write a position that does the job.
“Johnson Family Auto Repairs: Premium spare parts trusted by the north Brisbane community for over 30 years.”
The position here is family-owned, premium service and prices, and experience. That position should flow through all of the content and tactics you do for the year. Consider here your tone of voice, and what will differentiate you from your competitors. There’s no use having a position that is easily ignored.
- Is my brand still working for my customers?
Businesses that focus on building a long-term brand have a much easier job of attracting sales as time goes by. There’s plenty of evidence to support it.
So have a sense check of your brand. Does it need a small refresh? Does it need an overhaul? Is it making an impact just the way it is? Either way – now is the time to do something with it. If you need to refresh it and create some new assets (logos, brand icons, colours, fonts) write it down here. And don’t forget to add it as a SMART objective: Roll out brand refresh by June 2021, measure short-term impact of brand refresh by December 2021.
- How will I communicate with my customers this year, and what will I spend?
Take a look at those pain points, those communication channels and your objectives, and determine your communication tactics. If you need to convert more website visitors, this section might look like:
- Secure booth space at our key convention; sponsor drinks ($10,000)
- Monthly email to existing customers linking to relevant content on my website ($500 a month)
- Google Ads to capture more customers at the moment of intent ($3000 a month)
- More product case studies, testimonials and Google Reviews to convince more customers to contact us when they land on my website (Cost TBC – outsource)
- A simplified enquiry form to ensure customers don’t bail out without getting in touch ($200)
Mixing your tactics and your budget together gives you a real view of what you want to pay, and keeps you on budget. Make sure your cost expectations are realistic.
- How will you measure success?
Leave this space blank to fill in at the end of the year. Think back to your objectives – did you hit those marks? Look at your tactics in the section above – did you measure their effectiveness?
Make sure you keep an eye on the channels that provide value across your full customer journey – from awareness (booth space, drinks sponsorship) and consideration (Google Ads, case studies) to conversion (simplified web forms) and loyalty (monthly emails, Google Reviews).
Be wary of how each stage is performing, and tweak next year’s plan accordingly.