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A Practical Guide to Becoming Your Own Marketing Department

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Marketing is a central component of any business' success. It's how you drive leads, attract new potential customers, and convert them to paying clients. While there's no denying marketing's important, many small businesses don't have the funds for a full-scale marketing department. In these cases, it's important to become your own marketing team. While it might sound daunting, it's simpler than you'd think. This guide explains how it's done.

Figure out your marketing budget

The fact is that marketing costs money. Determining how much cash you can allot to your marketing efforts upfront will spare you the stress of overspending down the line. To determine your marketing budget, you'll have to take a look at your overall business finances. Identifying other areas where cost-cutting is possible can help you free up the funds to devote to marketing.

Determine your marketing objectives

Before you start formulating marketing messages and sketching out a strategy, you need to consider your goals. Perhaps you're aiming to attract new clients, for example, or want to foster long-term relationships with existing clients. Writing down your goals is the first step in determining how to best achieve them. Make a list of three key objectives while realizing that these goals may shift as your business evolves.

Define your target audience

Once you've defined your marketing goals, you'll be able to more easily determine your target audience. It's critical to define your audience in terms of concrete details like gender, marital status, household income, and media consumption. This will allow you to more precisely define how to best reach your audience. One way to figure this out is to survey your existing consumer base and see what traits these individuals share.

Establish your unique selling proposition

If you're going to be marketing your goods or services, you need to stand out from the crowd. Determine your unique selling proposition, USP. How are you different from your competitors? This information will help you formulate your marketing messaging, which tells consumers why they should choose you instead of another provider. Note that it's possible to have more than one USP.

Craft a clear marketing message

Now that you've got your marketing objectives mapped out, know who your target audience is, and have identified your USPs, it's time to start crafting your messaging. Your messaging should align with your customer base's values and worldview. For example, if you're catering to trendy youngsters, you want the verbiage and content of your messages to reflect this. Meanwhile, if you're communicating with older professionals, a sedate tone may be needed.

Determine what marketing channels to use

As you formulate your messages, consider what channels you want to disseminate them on. There are many options, from traditional print advertising to direct mail. Consider what media your target consumer is most likely to use and plan accordingly. Also, consider the impact of each channel. Take direct mail, for example. Marketing expert Neil Patel reveals that direct mail has a high return on investment of 29%, making it a worthwhile channel.

Craft a clear marketing strategy

With the above steps complete, it's time to put all this information together into a coherent and comprehensive marketing strategy. This will include all the points above, from your marketing messages to your chosen channels and a description of your target audience. The strategy should be forward-thinking, mapping out a few months of marketing planning.

Create your marketing content

Crafting your marketing messages is just one part of the creative process. Once you've chosen your channels, you need to adapt those messages accordingly. For example, you probably don't want to rely on words alone. You can complement your text and make it more powerful with images, from infographics to pictures. If you're using a channel like direct mail, you also need to think about details like printing the content.

Identify critical key performance indicators

When you invest in marketing, you want to ensure your efforts and the money you spend aren't in vain. To make your marketing efforts measurable, identify key performance indicators, KPIs. These are basic metrics that can help you assess how well a marketing technique is doing. For example, with a direct mail campaign, you could provide customers with a promo code and then see how often that promo code gets used.

Consider A/B testing

When developing marketing materials, you should always be thinking of the future. The results of your current marketing efforts will help you determine how to improve next time. A/B testing is a great way to do this. So, you might create a direct mail postcard campaign with the same messaging but two different design formats, and see which one performs better using your KPIs. You can leverage this feedback for future marketing.

Tweak your marketing plan as needed

Marketing is never a stagnant field. It's always changing and it's important that you evolve accordingly. It's also important that you reconfigure your marketing as needed. If you aren't happy with the results of your marketing efforts, make a change. Tracking your KPIs will allow you to see when it's time to make an upgrade. This doesn't mean your marketing efforts were a failure. It simply means you can make them even better.

Know when to ask for expert assistance

If you don't have a big budget for marketing, it can be tempting to do it all yourself. However, sometimes it's worth bringing in an external expert. Like you would outsource work to PR agencies or accounting firms, outsourcing certain marketing tasks will be cheaper than building an in-house marketing team and allows you to benefit from niche expertise. 

You don't need to spend big bucks on a full-scale marketing department to guarantee your small business' success. There are many affordable and effective ways to become your own in-house marketing team. The above guide provides some inspiration.

This article is brought to you by Dean Burgess from Excitepreneur. Dean started Excitepreneur to explore the areas of entrepreneurship that are often overlooked and to share with current and aspiring entrepreneurs the stories and lessons he has learned. He fully believes entrepreneurs will lead us to a more exciting future. All it takes is an idea or goal and a desire to see it to fruition.

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