Three Ms for Mapping Your Small Business Path
Some small businesses know exactly who they are and where they are going but the vast majority, while having the best products and service, are stuck in practitioner mode.
Focused on the day-to-day, with no plan or strategies in place, marketing not a priority and often left wondering where the next customer or client will come from. They are brilliant at what they do but trying to do it all alone and without a plan.
When asked ‘who has a plan – a marketing plan or a business plan?’, you can hear the crickets. So many small businesses have no plan in place.
It does make it more challenging to get where you want to be without a plan. It is like getting in a car to go to Melbourne, without looking at a map and keeping your fingers crossed hoping you are heading in the right direction just be relying on your best guess.
Business success, starts and ends, with having a plan. A map that lays out your direction, the tools you need to get there and the people you need to help you achieve your goals. Relying on your natural talents is not enough.
But … before you even get started creating a PR/marketing plan, it is good idea to get your foundations locked in … so when you have finished your plan, you have mapped out EXACTLY where you are going and how you are going to get there.
DETERMINE YOUR MESSAGE, MARKET AND MEDIA
Do your research
Will help you anticipate needs and changes. You can’t plan for everything but you can have strategies and initiatives in place to point you in the right direction. Conduct surveys, focus groups, one-on-one interviews to get a good idea of what your current customers/ clients like about you, why they do business with you etc. Survey Monkey is a good resource. Also look at your competitors – what are they are doing well, what do their customers say about them?
Know your target audience
Get to know the people and groups you want to hear your message; this also includes who you want to target in the media.
Know what you want to say
Once you know who your audience is, you can then work on your key messages – what is you want them to know about you.
Know other stakeholders
Who else would be interested in what you are doing? If you have employees, shareholders, JV partners etc they will need to understand and know what you are doing. Most importantly, you will need their support.
TIP – Don’t forget to share your PR successes with them.
Know the market
Make sure you check out other companies especially your competitors. Find out where other opportunities are. By exploring the market, you will also uncover other platforms for your products or services, other ways to craft your message and new markets.
Know what you can do and can’t do. To do this, have a good grasp on your time, budget and who does what. If it is within your budget, hire a PR professional because sometimes you can’t do everything!
A visual guide to help you define where and when you are going to implement certain strategies in your plan. Take into account media deadlines and other important events.
Once your plan is in place, it is time to implement it. Because you have taken the time to plan your PR campaign’s roll out, you can allocate time to action the items in the plan. Continue to monitor your plan – it is not a bookshelf decoration; it is a living document that is meant to be used.