10 Tips for Creating a Marketing Plan for Small Business Owners
The most important part of a marketing plan is implementing it consistently?
More than 50% of businesses do not have a plan for their marketing.
Digital marketing for home improvement businesses is incredibly difficult for home improvement businesses. The typical rules for building a following don’t always apply. Most of the information on the internet is led by influencer marketing and not specific to marketing plans for small businesses. It can leave you feeling quite confused. In the absence of specific advice, either nothing gets done at all or the efforts are inconsistent.
1. You do not have to create content for every platform.
For smaller local businesses, most of the platforms will not generate business. It is better to focus on the platforms that will generate enquiries. Use your time to create quality content for those rather than spread inconsistent posts across many.
Typically Instagram, Pinterest and Tik Tok are visual and are dominated by influencer type marketing.
Consider what you have done so far and what has worked. If it’s a headache to create enough visually appealing posts then leave those platforms for now.
Decide which platforms you can manage to create consistent content for and just forget about the other ones for now.
2. Set aside time every week for marketing.
Become proactive with your marketing. If your first instinct is that you don’t have time for marketing, I will tell you that you don’t have time to not be marketing. When you control your marketing, you can control your business. Marketing to the right customers means that eventually, you will be able to refuse business that is no in line with your targets and values for your business.
Even if at first, you can only set aside an hour, then do that. Once you see the value in that, you may be encouraged to invest a bit more time.
3. Start with the end goal in mind.
What is it that you want to achieve through your business? Think about the profit you want to make, the hours you want to work, the staff you want to employ and the type of customers you want to work with.
Once you know that, you should be able to use your averages to know how many orders you want to generate each year. How many enquiries will you need to generate to fulfil that many orders? Read the post on 3 Ways to Increase Profit and use the potential profit calculator on the page.
4. Think about who your marketing is speaking to.
It’s a common mistake in home improvement marketing, to think that everybody has a house, therefore, everybody is your ideal customer. If your marketing is directed at everyone, then you are speaking to nobody in particular. Traditional marketing for home improvements is led by herd mentality. All of the big companies use pictures of their products because they use ‘trawler net’ marketing. They want to ‘hook as many fish’ as possible. As a small local business, that will not work for you. It only works for them because they use commission-only salespeople and can afford to waste someone else’s time to service duff enquiries. Having said that, one of the reasons for these large businesses failing is because their cost of sale is too high. Recent events must mean that local businesses must observe and realise that the 80s style of running a home improvements business is outdated.
We must become more customer focussed.
In designing your marketing, think about the customers you want to work with, the problems that they are having and the questions they are asking.
5. Decide on a theme for the week.
Before you decide what to post, think about the theme. If as part of your plan, you decide to post on Facebook every day, that is immediately daunting. Three months posts means that you have to come up with approximately 90 ideas for what to write. If you, first of all, think about themes, it is easier to break it down. Whatever you sell, you can come up with, 12 questions that your customers ask or that you talk about. You can use these as your themes for each week. To make it easier you can choose daily themes. This means that you only need 5 or 7 themes depending on how many days per week you will post. These themes do not always need to be about your products. They can also be about related products. The best flooring, heating, shading for your conservatory. Paint colour for kitchens. Window dressings for windows.
A theme plan for a business selling windows and conservatories may look something like this.
You can write posts about these subjects in different ways for years without ever having to come up with a new idea. In addition to the themes, you will also have spontaneous events and news to post about.
6. Outsource the tasks that you don’t find easy.
Hiring a marketing agency can seem daunting. It’s difficult to understand what they do or whether you get any value from it. Especially when it comes to SEO, which can take months to see any benefit from. Lots of companies make promises about getting to the top of Google organically but it’s too vague. They for sure cannot get you to the top for the short keywords and this isn’t something you should waste time and money trying to do. Far better to concentrate on content marketing for longtail keywords through content. This type of marketing takes a bit more of your time and you may not be the best person to take on that task.
Talk to a marketing virtual assistant who specialises in your industry. They will just take on the tasks that you want them to. You may want to create your own content but want someone to make sure that the spelling and grammar are correct, and optimise it for Google with keywords.
You may want to plan your marketing but don’t have time for creating posts. Have the MVA create a specified number of posts for you and send them to you to upload. You can do this weekly or just ask them to batch create 50 for you. You can find out more about Marketing Virtual Assistants here.
7. Decide on a brand palette and stick to it.
Create a brand including colours, values and style and stick to it. This cuts down your thinking time which can lead to procrastination. Getting the job done quickly is important or it may not get done at all. When you can just create your posts using the style you have created, you can just get on with the job. More importantly, your posts will have a consistent look to them which is great for the ‘know’ like and trust’ factors which are essential in marketing. Once you have your brand palette, it is easier to delegate tasks to staff or agencies. This is a copy of our visual brand palette. The colours that we use are all stored in the various applications that we use so that posts can be created quickly.
8. Use a Social Media Scheduler.
There are plenty of schedulers on the market, both free and paid for. Marketing reactively often means that the marketing doesn’t get done at all or you post the same thing time and again. Another picture of a kitchen. Another picture of a Conservatory. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have their own free schedulers. When you batch create your posts with a scheduler, you get more done faster. While you are in ‘the zone’ one idea sparks another. It is also helpful for those who are shy about self-promotion. Just put it into the scheduler and you don’t have to think about it again. This will also help you to see what posts get the best reaction.
9. Get access to your website.
If you don’t already have access to your website, find out how to. Content marketing is essential and unless you are prepared to pay a lot of money to your developer, you will need to manage this yourself. Either by doing the work yourself or hiring an MVA. No matter how your website was built, your developer must be able to give you access for adding blogs. Your website must keep moving so adding content-rich pages to take advantage of keyword searches is essential. If your website is designed on WordPress or a page builder, it is easy to get access to. One decent blog a month can fuel your social media marketing for the whole month.
10. Don’t forget the traditional means of marketing.
It’s easy to get lost in the hype of online marketing but traditional methods of marketing still hold value for local home improvement businesses. Leaflet delivery is still a solid method of reaching a chosen demographic in a local area. Everyone in your area should know that you are there. Get involved in local events. Support other businesses marketing. Join up with related companies for shared marketing. Make sure that your material representations of your business are doing their job. Sign written vans should be an advertisement for your business. Whenever you are working in a house, a board should be put outside. Door knocking is not to everyone’s taste but it’s a fact that knocking the doors of the street where you have a customer reaps rewards. It may not be appropriate right now, post COVID, but there is no reason why you can’t put a leaflet through the door, specifically designed for that purpose.
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When you plan your marketing, be led by the thought, ‘how can I help my customers’.