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7 Common Mistakes Small Businesses Make With Their Marketing Plans

As a small business, the biggest (and most common) mistake made is not having a marketing plan at all. Your small business marketing plan is critical to the success of all your online and offline marketing efforts. If you do not have a plan in place, you are likely wasting a ton of money! Many small business owners make the mistake of feeling too overwhelmed or misunderstanding the purpose of a marketing plan. Your marketing plan should include not only the marketing actions that you plan to take within the next months, but also insight into your goals, target audience and a plan for reporting and understanding if your efforts are fruitful. In this article we’ll dive into the 7 mistakes small businesses commonly make when building a marketing plan to give you a better understanding of how yours should be created.

1. Goal Setting

The top mistake that we see with many small businesses when creating a marketing plan is that it is not goal focused. Throwing a million different actions and strategies out there and trying every new trend is not going to get you where you want to be – and you will waste a ton of money! The very first thing you should do when creating your marketing plan is a goal setting session. Setting SMART goals (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and timely) is key to any successful marketing strategy. Businesses that don’t have clear SMART goals will have a very difficult time identifying the best marketing efforts. This is because you won’t be able to connect your efforts with your goals and see what’s working best and what is worth your time and money. Everything that is in your marketing plan should revolve around your goals and your entire team should be clear on what you are trying to accomplish!

2. Target Audience Identification

You can’t create a marketing plan that will appeal to every single person, and you don’t want to! Your marketing plan should include an area where you clearly outline your ideal client, your target audience. All your marketing actions will be focused on your target audience’s buyer journey. The content you produce and the marketing strategies that you spend money on will be exclusively targeted towards your target audience. While you may learn more about your audience throughout your marketing, you should always have them top of mind as new ideas come up. 

3. Lack of Content Inventory 

A big mistake a lot of small businesses make when creating a marketing plan is they only include new content creation. This is a huge time suck and will likely leave you overwhelmed and behind schedule. Include a content inventory within your plan in order to fully understand what you have to reuse and recycle. This means you should take every single piece of content you’ve ever created, including print, video, audio, etc. and write it down with a description. Having an understanding of what you already have will save you a ton of time and then you can repurpose those pieces into new content! Also, you may already have marketing pieces that are working well that can be recycled, updated and used in other areas of your strategies. 

4. Little Understanding of Current Systems

As a small business, you don’t need to invest in a ton of tools and systems in order to be successful in online marketing. A great website platform (with a blog) and an email marketing system are really the two key systems for any small business to be successful with marketing. There are so many free templates and built-in tools already available for you to use, the important thing is to understand what you actually need. Many businesses make the mistake of investing in tools without truly understanding all of their capabilities. It’s possible that your website platform has the ability to send out emails to subscribers. Your Facebook business page also has a built-in, free, social scheduler for Facebook and Instagram. Don’t make the mistake of planning to invest in additional tools without a clear understanding of what you have – this will save you a ton of money!

5. Delegation 

Remember, you don’t have to do it all! As part of your marketing plan, be sure to include a plan for delegation. Who is available on your team to help with action items? How will work get completed? What is the timeline and plan for completion? Having these pieces already pre-planned will help tremendously to keep you on track and for accountability within your team. If you are a small team or just one person, identify where you need help and who you can hire. Include the hiring process of any experts needed as part of your plan! Delegation is a key piece of your marketing plan that many small businesses forget but should be top of mind in order to make sure things get done.

6. Content Calendar 

Within your plan, link out to a content calendar [You’re in luck! We have a FREE TEMPLATE here]. A big mistake is listing all your content ideas within your plan, without having them laid out in a calendar. The calendar template will help you gather your thoughts around why and how content will be completed, including keywords and call to actions that lead to your overall goals. We see so many business owners list out a giant list of content within their plan and then feel overwhelmed when it’s time to get started! Planning content out within a calendar template, that includes pieces for search engine optimization and a timeline for completion is the best way.

7. Reporting

Don’t forget to plan your analysis and reporting! Any strategy or action that is listed within your marketing plan should have a clear way to identify results. Understanding what’s working and what improvements should be made is how you will get results with your marketing campaigns. For each strategy identify the goal, how it will be reported on, how often and where. You can use a reporting template and link out within the plan. Reporting should be kept up regularly, filling in results of campaigns as often as once per week or at least once per month. Also in your plan, identify when you will do an overall brief and review (we recommended every quarter) and how this will get done as well as who should be involved in that conversation and next phase of planning. 

Key Takeaways:

  • The biggest and most common mistake small businesses make with their marketing plan is … not having one at all! Having a plan is crucial to the success of your business and will save you a ton of money.
  • Goal setting should be top priority when you big your plan and your entire marketing plan will be created based on those goals. 
  • Understand what you already have to work with so that you can save time and money. This includes not only your systems and tools but your content. 
  • Delegate as much as possible and plan it out within your marketing plan! Responsibilities should be clear as well as timelines and review processes. 
  • Use templates for content calendars and reporting and make sure to link out to them from your marketing plan. Fill in your content calendar thoroughly in order to save you time in the future! This will also keep you on track and accountable to your goals. 
  • Marketing plans can feel overwhelming and take time to work through but are worth it in order to save you time and money in the long run! Having a plan will ensure that you and your team are always working towards your goals and you know the best ways to get there. 

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