Creating a marketing plan for a local business is intimidating. But if you turn off all distractions and focus, you can get it done in just a few hours.
So, block off your schedule and put your phone in a different room. It’s time to get started!
Define your target market
Your services are not meant for everyone. Defining your target market is about identifying who, specifically, you aim to serve. This is an important first step in your marketing plan because the better you understand who your customers are, the better you’ll be able to produce marketing efforts that reach them.
You may think that you already know your target market. Even so, it’s worthwhile to think through the following exercises. Picture your ideal customers. Where do they live? How old are they? How much money do they make? Where do they go to look for [your service]? Build a profile of the type or types of people you serve.
Another way to define your market is to look for commonalities among your current clients. If you can identify a few characteristics that they share, you can predict that other people who share those traits could need your help as well.
Perhaps you decide to target suburban homeowners ages 50+ for your landscaping company. Depending on where you live, that market could still include many thousands of people. A better target could be suburban homeowners ages 50+ within 5 miles. Be careful not to target too narrowly either. It may take some experimentation to find the market that’s the best fit for you.
Determine your budget
Now that you’ve figured out your target market, you can breathe a (small) sigh of relief about your budget. Instead of spending the money to market to people who will never pay for your service, you’ll be investing your dollars in a more focused way.
But, deciding exactly how much to spend is still a crucial part of your marketing plan for a local business. As a percentage of revenue, marketing spending generally accounts for between 6 and 10 percent of a company’s expenses. Of course, your marketing budget will be dependent on several factors unique to you and your business. How many new customers do you hope to attract? Of the marketing tactics you’re already employing—how are those working and how much do they cost?
It helps to list out all of your operational costs for the year to determine what you can reasonably spend on marketing.
Great work so far—you’ve arrived at the most fun part of writing a marketing plan for a local business! Now’s the time to come up with lots and lots of marketing ideas.
Consider both online and offline marketing ideas. When brainstorming online marketing tactics, think about where your customers usually spend time online. Maybe they are big Twitter users but hardly ever open Facebook. Many people search for local businesses on Google but also ask for recommendations on Nextdoor. Use what you know about your customers to strengthen your online presence on the social media channels they most often use. You could also run social media ads on these channels and host fun marketing campaigns. Digital marketing is a huge field to draw ideas from.
There are tons of ways to engage in offline marketing, as well. Get your business name out there by displaying it on the side of your car or truck, on yard signs, and on billboards. Create business cards or mailings. Show up to local events and networking meetups.
You’re still in the brainstorming stage, so keep those ideas flowing.
There are many low-cost and free marketing techniques, but good marketing almost always requires a bit of an investment.
Here are some common marketing strategies and their cost estimates for small businesses:
- Website design: $2,000-$3,000
- Custom design and printing of business cards: $200-$300
- Direct mailings: $.50-$3 per mailing
- Design and implementation of local SEO campaign: $300-$1000/month
You may want to hire additional employees or freelancers to help with sales, graphic design, blog writing, or social media management. Keep these things in mind as you plan your marketing expenses.
Choose the best ideas that fit your budget to try first
Now you have a target market, a budget, and many marketing ideas. Choose the ideas that you predict will have the most success—and that fit your budget—to kick off your marketing plan for a local business.
It may not be immediately clear which techniques you should start with. So, take some time to prune down and prioritize your list. For a beginning business, the best ideas to start with might be those that are guaranteed to get you customers quickly. More advanced businesses could see the value in long-term strategies that build your brand reputation and strengthen your relationships with clients.
If you have some good ideas that fit into your budget, go ahead and try them out! Start experimenting and you’ll get the valuable information you can use the next time you tweak your marketing efforts. Also, keep a list of your other brainstormed ideas around as backup and for future reference.
And that’s it! You have a marketing plan. Make sure you’ll be able to service those customers well by signing up for a 14 day trial of ServiceWorks to keep your business running smoothly and your new customers coming back.