Even the smallest businesses need a marketing strategy to survive and thrive. Unless your name is always at the forefront of your potential clients’ minds, you need some kind of plan in place to attract new business and maintain a steady stream of income. If you’ve ever put an ad on the noticeboard of your local shop or ordered professional flyer printing from Helloprint, you’ve already put a marketing plan into action.

But there’s more you can do to help your business. Here are five crucial aspects to consider in your new, enhanced marketing strategy.

1 Alignment

Refer to your original business plan, and think about how you can draw up a marketing plan that helps you achieve the goals you put in place. Look especially at objectives concerning customers and how you reach out to them.

Once you’re happy with the way your marketing ideas fit into your overall business plan, it’s time to put it to work. Define the objectives and outcomes you want to see from your marketing efforts. One way to do this is to use SMART methodology:

Specific: Outline your objectives clearly and exactly.

Measurable: Quantify what counts as a successful outcome. You can use the information obtained to shape future plans.

Achievable: Do you have the resource and ability to actually do what you set out to do?

Realistic: If something is wildly ambitious, you need to recognise it as such and re-focus.

Time-sensitive: Set deadlines for each objective.

2 SWOT analysis

This is a useful overall health check for your whole business, not just the marketing aspect. Since your marketing approach is something that can and should be changed as often as your business demands, it’s worth carrying out a SWOT check at least every couple of months, if not sooner.

Strengths: What is your unique selling point? What advantages does your particular offering give you?

Weaknesses: What could you improve? How effective is your customer engagement and retention?

Opportunities: What new marketing techniques or trends could you take advantage of? (The Econsultancy blog is a good way to stay abreast of the latest developments.)

Threats: Is the way your customers interact with your brand or business changing, and are you keeping up? What do other businesses do that you don’t?

There’s an in-depth look via BusinessNewsDaily.com at why SWOT analysis is so important.

3 Content strategy

A good content strategy doesn’t necessarily mean becoming a prolific blogger. It means putting content – be it how-to videos, tips articles or FAQs – onto your site, so that a potential customer sees that you’re an expert in your field and that you can be trusted.
If you can put such content onto other sites your demographic visits, so much the better.

4 Customer experience

If you’ve identified your ideal customer and managed to attract them to your website, you need to figure out how you can keep them coming back. You should be trying to improve every step of a customer’s interaction with your business, from the moment they become aware of it, through to purchasing a product or service and ultimately – hopefully – recommending your company to others.

Word of mouth is one of the best kinds of marketing there is, and it’ll be helped immeasurably by the way your customer feels when dealing with your business.

5 A calendar

Can you see, at a glance, what your plan is for the year ahead? Even a basic calendar offering a top-level view of your plans can be an incredibly useful tool. You can pencil in significant events that may affect your trade and plan content and marketing pushes to take advantage.