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4 ways for small business to improve their marketing plan

4 ways for small business to improve their marketing planI’ve been working with a number of businesses lately developing their marketing strategy and marketing plans for the next 12-18 months. One of the key parts of the planning process has been identifying clear and measurable targets, so we can develop a plan on how to achieve them. For some businesses it also helps manage internal expectations of what can be achieved.

Here are 4 ways to improve your marketing plan.

1. Be clear on your goals

Typically the goal is sales or revenue based, for example, Generate annual sales of $4M by 2012. I like to take that a step further and identify what that means in marketing terms. If your average sale is $10,000, then you need to generate 400 sales for the year, or an average of 33 per month. If your average sale is $100, then you need to generate 40,000 sales per annum, or an average of 3,334 per month.

2. Benchmark current activity

In order to build a realistic plan on achieving your business and marketing goals, it’s critical to understand what you’re currently achieving. I like to set-up a spreadsheet with the key metrics broken down by month, for example, website traffic (unique visitors), phone calls, number of leads, number of sales, conversion rate from lead to sale, etc. I also like to include marketing costs, broken down by month, so that you can calculate your cost per lead and cost per sale.

Unfortunately many businesses do not measure or track their marketing activity, which makes this part of the process difficult. I find it’s still a worthwhile process, as it allows you to set a benchmark that you can now measure against. If you don’t know the detailed numbers, then I’d suggesting working back to front. Start with the number of sales you need to achieve your target, estimate what your sales conversion is (is it 1 in 10, 3 in 10, etc), and you’ll know how many leads you need each month.

3. Incorporate the time-delay factor

How long does it take to convert a sale? One week, one month, one year? Each business is different and you need to understand the buying cycle and decision-making process for your Ideal Customer, and factor this into your plan.

4. Bridge the gap

You should now have a monthly target of what you need to achieve, a clear understanding of what you’re currently getting, and what the gap is month by month. Importantly, you should also have a better understanding of what the individual metrics are to achieving your target, and therefore which elements you need to work on.

Most people focus on increasing the number of leads (or website traffic), however it’s also worth looking at how you can improve your sales conversion. It’s typically harder to improve (sales conversion) but any improvements you do make will have a greater impact on your sales and profitability.

By having a clear understanding of what you’re currently achieving, and where you need to be, you can focus on improving the elements that will drive the biggest difference. Plus, if you’ve calculated your cost per lead or cost per sale, you’ll also know what you need to spend on marketing to generate the required sales. And if you don’t have the money to spend on marketing, you can adjust your targets accordingly.

I’m interested to know, do you measure and track your marketing? Do you know the individual metrics within your business?

What do you think?

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Joel Norton

Joel Norton

Joel is Chief Strategy Officer of <a href="http://Boosthq.com.au">Boost Marketing</a>, a specialist small business marketing consultancy. He is an accomplished marketing professional with 22 years experience, and is passionate about delivering strategic, practical marketing solutions that help small business to be more profitable. Joel is also a sought after speaker on the elements of small business marketing. You can follow Joel on twitter <a href="http://www.twitter.com/boosthq">@BoostHQ</a>

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