Developing a marketing strategy and plan is key to being successful at marketing your small business. A lot of small business owners don’t feel that they have the time to dedicate to marketing their business, so they don’t take the time to sit down and really think about how it should be done correctly. Besides that, because many small business owners do not have the resources to hire someone to do their marketing and may feel that they are not knowledgeable enough about marketing. Due to these reasons, many small business either don’t market themselves at all, or they waste precious dollars on marketing channels that aren’t the most successful.

Here are a few ideas to help you develop an over all marketing flow for you business and stick to your plan.

1. Research marketing strategies and marketing proposals

Even though you won’t be hiring a marketing firm or consultant, look into what they would be preparing for you if you were. Research marketing proposals to learn the key components to build a proposal for your business for the next year.

2. Brainstorm with your employees about your brand

Having a cohesive idea about who you are and what you do is extremely important. You should develop 3-4 core messages that explain your purpose. Then, all of your marketing materials should come easier because you know what you need to say.

Also think about who would your brand be if it was a person? What do you logo and colors say to your leads, prospects and customers? What do your competitors brands say about them?

3. Look at your customers to determine who your target market is

Look at who your current customers are. Chances are, there are probably certain demographics who are drawn to your business more than others. Why is that? What type of marketing would these groups respond to the best?

4. Determine which marketing channels will be most important to you

You don’t have all of the time in the world to spend on marketing, considering you have a business to run, so determine where you want to be spending your time. Social media and e-mail marketing are cheaper options than advertising or direct mail. Look back at your target market, if they are older, they may be more likely to be exposed to a direct mail piece or something on the radio.

If you have the time, use as many channels as you can for the best results.

5. Learn the basics of SEO

In this day and age, your website can be your number 1 salesperson. Bringing in inbound leads and nurturing them from there on is key because it requires less work on your part and those are “hotter” leads that actually came looking for you.

In order to come up higher in a Google search, you must learn a little about SEO. Do some research and find 2-3 things you can do to enhance this part of your business.

Things like these will help your website rank higher:

  • updating your website often, possibly with a blog
  • registering on Google local business
  • Having a Google+ page for your business

6. Create your own proposal

What would you want to see if you had hired a marketing firm? Take the time to actually write out a proposal with a time line. If you are going to blog and maintain social media platforms, make a schedule. If you are going to develop e-mail or direct marketing campaigns, make a time line to have the done and sent by.

Doing this will not only allow you to set marketing goals, but it will help to motivate you to stay on track and actually implement them.