Nike's famous slogan "Just Do It" is really bad advice when it comes to conducting a marketing campaign for your small business. But this is what passes for a marketing plan for a lot of small businesses. They place an ad here and an ad there, put up a website or a Facebook page, and call their marketing campaign done. Unfortunately, this sort of "doing-this-and-that" marketing approach is like fishing on dry land; you can cast as much as you like, but you're not going to catch anything because you're nowhere near the pond.
How do you get your line to where the fish are? Follow the nine steps below to run a successful marketing campaign.
1) Know how your marketing campaign fits into your marketing plan.
Ideally, before you plan a marketing campaign, you have a marketing plan for your business. (If you don't, Writing the Marketing Plan will lead you through the process.)
The marketing plan is your master plan for marketing your small business. It provides the full picture of your marketing objectives and strategies for interesting your target market in your products and/or services. The marketing campaign, on the other hand, is one small piece of your marketing plan, a marketing action designed to achieve a particular marketing objective.
When you know how your marketing campaign fits into your overall marketing plan, you know who your target market is and how you might best communicate with them.
2) Set your marketing campaign objective and parameters.
What do you want your marketing campaign to achieve? That's the marketing campaign objective. You want to be a specific as possible. Not just, "I want more sales", but how many and of what product or service?
You can think of parameters as the details of the objective. Time is the most common parameter that needs to be included as marketing campaigns lose their effectiveness over time. (Even Tony the Tiger had to be retired eventually.)
So a common marketing campaign objective formula is: what will be achieved + how long will the marketing campaign run?
For example: Sales of face beauty marks will increase 50% in three months.
3) Determine how you will measure success.
What metrics are you going to use? How will you tell if your marketing campaign has succeeded or not? Obviously, if I have a marketing campaign objective such as "Sales of face beauty marks will increase 50% in three months" the metric I'm going to use to measure the success of my marketing campaign is the number of sales made over the three month period. But the number of sales may not be an appropriate metric at all if my marketing objective is to increase the awareness of my brand or to improve my website's search engine page ranking.
For tracking online marketing efforts, you can use Google Analytics.
Methods of Tracking Offline Marketing Efforts by Laura Lake, About.com Marketing, explains some common ways to measure the success of your offline marketing campaign.
Don't forget to establish or note a baseline for whatever metric you've chosen; you'll need it to measure your progress.
4) Set your marketing campaign budget.
How much money you have to spend on your marketing campaign will greatly affect the marketing strategies you choose so you need to set the marketing budget first. Obviously, a Superbowl TV ad is much more costly than an ad on local television or in a magazine.
I advise you not to depend on free advertising and promotion strategies for your small business. In my opinion, this is one of the biggest mistakes small business owners make. This is not to say that all free marketing strategies are bad. But there is always a cost to marketing, even if the cost is only time, and your time may be much better spent. Always think first; is this the best/ most effective/ most convincing way to reach my customer? These ways usually cost money so resign yourself to spending money on your marketing campaign. You don't necessarily have to spend a lot, but you do need to spend some.
5) Choose your marketing strategies to communicate with the customers.
What communication channels are you going to use?
Email? Direct mail? Pay-per-click online advertising?
Note that some communications channels are going to be better suited to your target market than others. For instance, placing radio ads may be a complete waste of money if your target market doesn't regularly listen to the radio. Think about your target market's haunts and habits when you're choosing channels to reach them. Where do they spend their time? Where are they most likely to see or hear and pay attention to information about your products and/or services? In a magazine? On a bus bench? On their iPhone or Blackberry?
Continue on to the next page; steps six through nine of how to run a successful marketing campaign or online marketing campaign show how to create an action plan time line for your marketing campaign and give a marketing campaign example.