SMEs need to get their marketing plans right so that they work. These past few months I’ve helped five clients pull together their Tactical Marketing Plan, as well as updating my own. I’ve applied these three principles to all of them. Let’s look at each in detail.
There’s so much that you could do when it comes to Tactical Marketing e.g. SEO; advertising; PR; social media; blogging; events; networking; etc. All of these can be done in so many different ways and in varying levels of detail and all be relevant to helping you reach out to and build a relationship with your target segments.
The temptation is to try and do it all: run five social media channels; blog and e-shot every week; attend all the events and advertise in all the right places, running SEO and Ad-word campaigns alongside them.
The problem is, for most SMEs (Small to Medium sized Enterprises) this isn’t realistic.
So, how do you apply a reality check?
- First, budget. Be realistic about how much budget you have to spend on marketing. Then stick to it. As a rough rule of thumb, I work on up to 10% of turnover to be spent on tactical marketing for a growing SME.
- Next, time. Someone has to actually create, manage and monitor all of the tactical marketing your business does. Adverts don’t create themselves. Decent social media posts and engagement don’t happen on its own. Effective marketing takes time to create, implement, assess and manage. Who’s going to do all this? And are you being realistic about how much time it will take them?
- Last, skills and knowledge. It’s a world weary joke amongst marketing consultants that you go into a business and are told something like, “Emma in accounts does our marketing because she’s good with Canva and photos…” Effective marketing requires an understanding of the principles of marketing, your clients, the marketing tools that you have chosen to use, and the ability to pull it all together into something that actually works. Are you being realistic about the level of marketing skills and knowledge in your organisation and the ability to execute the marketing plan your business needs?
When I write Marketing Plans I always have in my mind who will be delivering the plan, the budget and time available. That ensures it is rooted in reality.
If it is clear that certain marketing tasks need to be done to reach and engage the right target groups but the business can’t do those tasks, I highlight this and give options for more budget, time, or bringing in the right skills.
You need to have a regular marketing rhythm to see results. This means that you have to know what marketing you are doing and when; and stick to it.
As a basic example, let’s take my business, KMS Marketing. My marketing rhythm is:
Weekly: 45 minutes per week on LinkedIn and Twitter reading, sharing and commenting on others’ content – at least one ‘coffee meet up’ with a business contact / friend.
Monthly: one blog – one e-shot – social media posts about the blog – one networking group – speak at one event.
Quarterly: reconnecting with past clients / contacts not seen for a while – attend big regional / national business or networking event.
I know that if I stick to this rhythm, I will get the right amount of work for my business.
If I want more work, I need to do more networking and speaking and will see an up-turn in work in three to four months’ time (this is related to how long it takes my clients to move through their Buyers Journey to decide to use me). If I want less work in three to four months’ time, I do less networking and speaking.
If I break this marketing rhythm, then my pipeline starts to develop holes and my business stumbles.
Find your company’s marketing rhythm, put it in your plan, stick to it.
You need to re-use and re-cycle as much of your existing marketing collateral as possible. This is cost and time effective, giving you real punch for your pound.
Many businesses I work with have a body of marketing collateral (i.e. stuff written or produced for marketing purposes). It’s often of varying quality, ranging from amazing to naff but most of it can be re-cycled and turned into fresh, exciting marketing collateral.
Real examples include:
- Taking Project Initiation Documents sent to clients and turning the contents of them into Product Sheets.
- Gathering feedback forms and thank you emails from clients and turning the comments into punchy testimonials that are then put on ‘postcards’ for use on social media and at events.
- Backlogs of blog posts whose copy, images and headlines are updated to make a ‘new’ blog post.
- Blog posts which are combined to make LinkedIn Articles, Whitepapers, Knowledge Sheets.
I have never been into a business that has no marketing collateral and has to start from a blank page. Look at your organisation’s existing content and see what you can do with it.
As you plan your marketing for the next quarter or financial year, keep Realism, Rhythm and Re-cycling in mind and you’ll develop a Tactical Marketing Plan that will work.
Kara Stanford, KMS Marketing, is a Strategic Marketing Consultant based in North East Hampshire, UK.
She helps SMEs review and plan their marketing.
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