We’re going to wrap up the year by putting a few must-do recommendations into one handy list to kick the new year off right. Don’t you just love checklists?  We do, and what better way to be helpful than to give people a small business marketing checklist for 2017. Ready?  Let’s do this…

If you don’t have a marketing strategy, create one

marketing strategyTo do marketing right, you have to have a plan. A measurable, actionable, scalable plan. Does your small business have one yet?  If not, 2017 is the year to make it happen. You wouldn’t start a business without a business plan, so why would you do any kind of marketing without a marketing plan?  You need to know who your target audience is, your ideal client, your unique value proposition, and how best to market to your prospects to increase your chances of turning them into clients. You need to establish baselines, and you need to measure to see what’s working and what isn’t. Hire someone to create a marketing strategy for your small business. It’s worth the investment. A strategy lays the foundation for everything else you do.

Establish a marketing budget

Now that you have a functional marketing plan, figure out how much you’re going to spend on your marketing efforts, and tie that spend to individual marketing activities. This is how you determine the ROI (return on investment) for each marketing tactic. If you don’t measure your marketing activities and foot them to your marketing spend, how do you determine if those tactics are working, and if the cost justifies the spend?  For example, in your marketing strategy, you’ve determined that pay-per-click advertising is a good marketing tactic to try. Even if your efforts bring in traffic and maybe even leads that turn into clients, was it a good investment? We had a client come to us that was spending $500 a month on pay-per-click. They felt their efforts were paying off until we looked at the numbers. At the end of the day, each lead costs them about $12, and calculating their conversion rate, each client they acquired cost them between $75 – $80. Problem was, they were selling products with a price point of $50, and most clients only purchased once. They spent $75 to get $50. By establishing a baseline (see our comments on strategy), looking at spend, then determining ROI, you can figure out where to spend your money, and how much you should spend. There are many great articles on how to determine the perfect marketing budget for your company, or work with a marketing professional to help establish one for you.

Get a website

If you’re a small business with a website, nice job!  Move on to the next item on this checklist. For the rest of you reading this who DON’T have a website, this is for you. Your small business needs a website. Period. The internet is a great equalizer between small and large businesses and if you don’t have a website, you are missing out, big-time. There are so many affordable options now in getting a website for your company, you have no excuse not to have one. Need to start small and simple?  That’s OK! Just get online and get found. You can create your own website or reach out to an affordable website company to build one for you. Shop around, establish a budget (see marketing budget above) and go from there. 2017 is the year to get a website.

Embrace content marketing

2017 is the year to stop pushing out information you want people to know about your company, and start providing information people are looking for. Canned marketing pitches are getting filtered out; people want to know how you can help them with their problem, how you can answer the questions they have. Provide that information, and you win. Content marketing is the ideal platform for that. One Forbes article put it best when it stated, “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer action. The key word here is valuable.” Understand the pain points your prospects have, and show how you can address them. Find out what question your prospects (and your clients, past and present) are asking and answer those questions. be helpful, and your small business will win in the long run.

Stop ignoring mobile

social media managementMobile marketing is growing at an unprecedented rate. It’s time to think your business is “too small” to worry about mobile. It’s not just another platform; mobile marketing will be about connecting with your consumers on an interpersonal level. Consumer habits are shifting to mobile. People consume news on their phones. They shop on their phones. Desktop computer sales are declining while mobile sales continue to climb. Everyone is on mobile, and your small business should be too. What does that mean?  Well, one basic place to start is in making sure your website is mobile-friendly. Look into mobile advertising options; there are opportunities at every spend level, so take the time to do your research and find out how mobile ads can work for your company. Be open to adding mobile to your list of measurable marketing tactics to keep your small business competitive. Today more than ever, consumers are turning to mobile to access content from virtually anywhere. Don’t miss the opportunity to reach more customers.

Make time to be sociable

As a small business marketing company, it’s still amazing to us how many small business owners don’t feel that they need to be on social media.  With a projected 25% annual growth over the next five years, it’s time to start investing in social media. It can help you gain insights about your potential clients so you can effectively target them with content marketing efforts (this is called “social listening”). It helps raise awareness of your company and your brand. It can drive traffic to your website. You can even run targeted ads on social platforms based on location, demographics, interests, or behaviors. Social media is extremely powerful if used correctly. Don’t ignore social media, embrace it.

Tie your marketing together

Here’s the bottom line: have a plan. Work the plan. Measure the plan. Adjust the plan. There are numerous marketing tactics out there, but without a plan, a budget, and a way to measure the results, you’re going to be flying blind. With a plan, budget and the ability to measure in place, be open to new marketing tactics so your efforts don’t become stale. Use this small business marketing checklist for 2017 to lay the foundation for your efforts, and commit to a more prosperous year!

Patty Hughes
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