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#3 Be Seen: how to develop your marketing plan

If you have something to sell, you need to be easy to see, find and engage with.

Once we have defined our brand and set our price, we need to make sure our business is visible, attractive and approachable. We need a plan.

A business without marketing is a hobby and hobbies don’t pay the rent. So what now?

Good marketing is a very important element of building a successful business and here’s how to make a great start…

Look at the marketing of different businesses you use both large and small. What do you like? What do you dislike?  Can you work out why?

Now look at your direct competitors. People with the same kind of business as you, in your area. Again, what do you like and dislike about their marketing? Do you know why?

Whatever your competitors are doing, your job is to do it better.

Today, the successful marketing of any product or service requires a mixture of things. For a micro business that mix may include:

Printed marketing
  • Business card
  • Brochure
  • Leaflet
  • Newspaper advert
  • Magazine article
  • Press release
Online (or digital) marketing
  • Personal website
  • Social media, for example: You Tube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook
  • Blog
  • ‘Marketplace’ website, for example: eBay, Etsy, Amazon
  • Professional platform website, for example: LinkedIn or a membership or accredited organisation
Human to human
  • Word of mouth
  • Personal connections
  • Professional networking

The different elements that make up your ‘marketing mix’ should be chosen by understanding your customers’ buying habits, so do your research. When you have identified how your customers hear about the kind of product you offer and how and where they shop for it, it’s time to set some goals, create a plan and decide on your marketing ‘mix’.

Micro Oiseau - How to Be Seen: marketing help for micro entrepreneurs

Set Your Goals

Short-term, mid-term and long-term. Your goals will change as you develop your business, but without goals you cannot keep focused on what you want to achieve or measure your success.

For example, your goals may be:

Short: Secure a business loan from my bank or start a blog.

Mid:    Secure ten clients by the end of six months or buy special equipment.

Long: Employ five staff and open four outlets by the end of three years.

Or, more simply, “To pay my bills and give me the lifestyle and freedom I want.”

Everyone’s goals and timescales will be different, but they are all important. Now to make a plan…

“A goal without a plan is just a wish…”  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Create a plan to reach your goals

Think of your plan as a series of stepping stones to reach your goal.

If you are crossing a deep river, without stepping stones it will be difficult, if not impossible, to make progress. For example:

Plan to reach your short-term goal to secure a business loan:

    1. Get advice from local business support service
    2. Write draft business plan
    3. Make appointment with bank

Mid-term goal to secure ten clients by end of six months:

    1. Research local advertising and competitors
    2. Research website resources and support
    3. Begin creating content and images for advert and website

You get the picture? Each goal has a plan attached with different stages within it. Reaching your short, mid and long-term goals will also go on simultaneously and many may overlap.

Build your marketing mix to support your plan and achieve your goals

Use your plan to keep you on track.

For example, if you offer yoga classes, your marketing mix may include:

Printed:

  • Leaflets for local community spaces.
  • Adverts in the local newspaper and/or wellbeing magazine.

Online:

  • Website
  • Facebook page
  • YouTube Channel

Human:

  • Encourage word of mouth through meeting up with local interest groups
  • Who do you know and who do they know? Use your personal networks and connections to spread the word

When creating any type of marketing remember:

    1. People want to know the benefits to them before anything else.
    2. It should reflect what your customer wants or needs to know, not what you want to tell them (see point 1.)
    3. Ensure your brand (name, logo, presentation) is professional, attractive and consistent.
    4. Make it easy for people to find and contact you.

Most importantly, review what you are doing regularly and, when needed, change your plan and your marketing mix not your goal.

Now, let’s take a quick look at content and design, in other words, what your marketing material says and how it looks.

Part of building trust with your customer will be choosing the right language and tone of voice. This may depend on what you sell: hairdressing or legal services, car maintenance or fashion design. Choose the tone of voice and language appropriate to your customers. This will make them feel at ease. We look at this in more detail in our guide Be Persuasive: how to advertise.

If you want to engage customers from different countries in different languages, read our free Translation Guides and get help with translation. AI translation services like Google Translate will never be as good, as accurate or as sensitive as a human. Again, it comes back to trust. Ensure you are talking about and selling your products and services in the most authentic and engaging way you can to help build your customers’ trust and loyalty.

When it comes to designing a logo and the look of a leaflet or website, it’s also important to get the ‘visual language’ right. This applies to pictures, colours, and text design. If you don’t have design skills, get professional help. Whatever budget you have, maximise it by hiring the best professional help you can. If you have little money to spend, just KEEP IT SIMPLE.

Have a look at the text design below. Steer clear of any styles like these. They are not professional or even readable!

And remember, before printing, publishing or posting anything, ask someone else to read it first to spot any mistakes. If you are on your own, put it to one side and re-read it later.

We all make mistakes.

Finally…

Question: What is the most common mistake people make when producing their first marketing materials?

Answer: They forget to include their contact details.

Now, it’s time to develop your website… 

Now discover how to develop a really good Internet presence with our next guide, “Be Seen Online: how to develop a good website”

Little guides. Big results.