How to create a marketing plan, step by step
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What is small-business marketing?
Small-business marketing is the combination of strategy, analytics, and all types of marketing efforts that drive results for a small business.
This can include everything from digital advertising and online marketing to the marketing plan itself. There are a number of marketing tools that small businesses can use to increase brand awareness and drive interest when reaching out to potential customers. In this guide, there are tips that help address common questions around email marketing, social media, analytics, and how to develop a small-business marketing plan that helps reach consumers.
How can marketing help small businesses?
In short, marketing helps small businesses by driving consideration and brand awareness of the product.
While sales may be the end goal, a solid marketing strategy isn’t simply about driving conversations. It’s also about introducing a business to relevant customers. Chances are, when a business is developing a marketing plan, it’s not the only business that is offering its product or service to potential customers.
Creating a marketing strategy, particularly for a small business, is about building brand awareness and establishing a presence in the marketplace. How a business chooses to do so can be partly driven by goals, shopping signals, and the marketing tools available to them. In some cases, a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is another option to consider. For others, it’s email marketing. The path to success sometimes depends on a business’s customer shopping insights and how to learn from them to reach customers who would benefit the most from the products or services being sold.
Marketing channels for small business
When it comes to finding the correct marketing channel for a small business, it is integral to remember the importance of the their customer base. When establishing a marketing strategy, it’s also important to consider what the small business is offering, who its audience is, and where they would naturally go to find that product or service. Amazon Ads offers a number of advertising solutions for small-business owners, including options in the below categories.
Video marketing describes the use of video content to promote or inform audiences about your brand and products. Brands can use video across a variety of digital channels and formats, including their own website, social media marketing, programmatic advertising, and more.
The importance of video in marketing is widely acknowledged by marketers. Statista surveyed over 8,000 marketing leaders in June 2021 and found that pre-produced video was the leading digital consumer-engagement tactic worldwide. Not only do 81% of respondents use pre-produced videos in their digital marketing, but another 13% said they are planning to use them. The next most-used tactic was livestream video, with 73% respondents currently using the format, and another 19% planning to do so.
Audio marketing can help brands extend campaign messaging beyond the screen. Audio marketing includes a broad spectrum of content, including jingles, scores, and branded content. It also includes audio ads. Audio advertising can be an important part of content marketing, and by integrating ads into audio experiences such as ad-supported music streaming or podcasts, advertisers can help consumers discover products and services that are relevant to them.
Display marketing, the type of advertising that combines copy and visual elements with a call-to-action (CTA) message that links to a landing page, is key to any modern media mix. You typically see display ads along the top or sides of a website—or, sometimes, incorporated in the content you’re reading. Display ads are a visually appealing, cost-effective, and measurable way for a brand to reach their marketing goals.
Search engine marketing
Search engine marketing (SEM), or search marketing, is focused on leveraging search engines and optimizing placement in search results through paid ads. Advertisers have also used search engine results pages (SERPs) to help bring visibility to products, brands, or websites.
SEM is one of the ways marketers can grow your business in a competitive marketplace. SEM helps brands raise awareness. Ultimately, the higher a brand’s ads appear or rank on search engines, the higher the chances are that those ads are being seen by consumers. Being at the top of SERPs can help drive awareness, consideration, and trust for brands.
Additionally, SEM can be an important way for marketers to drive traffic to websites, landing pages, and product pages through SERPs. The ultimate goal of SEM is to increase a website’s visibility, using a variety of techniques and strategies to generate more audience visits.
Programmatic marketing is the use of technology to buy and sell digital ads. Programmatic advertising uses an automated process, within advertiser-defined parameters, to purchase digital ad inventory across the web, mobile, apps, video, and social media. Programmatic advertising uses workflow automation and machine learning algorithms to deliver the most effective ads to consumers based on a variety of signals, like shopping patterns.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing is the use of social media—paid or organic—to reach customers. This marketing solution can be leveraged by posting organic content (unpaid, with no promotion) to reach a brand’s audience on a specific social media channel. Social media marketing can also include paid posts, which can vary between advertising placements or promoted posts that take organic posts and push them to customers who may be interested in your brand.
In terms of opportunities for social media marketing at Amazon, Twitch takes a community-first approach to brand collaborations. Successful advertisers on Twitch first take the time to understand its community values and behaviors. When content creators reach the Affiliate or Partner level on Twitch, they can receive revenue from running ads on their channel. These advertisements appear before streams as pre-roll or during streams as mid-roll ad breaks.
Email marketing is the method of reaching your audience through a contact list that typically has been built by the business itself. Email marketing is often used to let customers know about products and updates related to the company. Because email marketing typically utilizes lists that customers have opted into, it can yield a high return on investment (ROI).
Marketing tools for small businesses
Once a small business has identified the strategy and marketing tools that suits their goals, there are a number of tools that they can use to better understand the analytics and results from their marketing plans. Amazon Ads offers a number of solutions to help analyze the efficacy of marketing campaigns.
Amazon Attribution is an advertising and analytics measurement solution that gives insight to marketers into how their non-Amazon marketing channels perform on Amazon. While Amazon Ads helps drive consideration for your brand and products across multiple touchpoints, marketers also use a number of non-Amazon channels that also play key roles in the shopping journey. With Amazon Attribution measurement, marketers can gain visibility into how these non-Amazon touchpoints help consumers discover and consider your products on Amazon.
Amazon Marketing Cloud
Amazon Marketing Cloud (AMC) is a secure, privacy-safe, and cloud-based clean room solution, in which advertisers can easily perform analytics across pseudonymized signals, including Amazon Ads signals as well as their own inputs. Built on Amazon Web Services (AWS), AMC can help advertisers with campaign measurement, audience analysis, media optimization, and more. AMC only accepts pseudonymized information. All information in an advertiser’s AMC instance is handled in strict accordance with Amazon’s privacy policies, and your own signals cannot be exported or leveraged by Amazon. Advertisers can only leverage aggregated, anonymous outputs from AMC.
Amazon Ad Server
Amazon Ad Server is a global, multichannel ad server used to create, distribute, customize, measure, and optimize campaigns across a variety of screens. It offers multiple options for creative authoring, streamlined campaign management tools, advanced dynamic creative optimization capabilities, and Media Rating Council–accredited measurement.
Amazon Marketing Stream
Amazon Marketing Stream (beta) is a push-based messaging system that delivers hourly Amazon Ads campaign metrics and information on campaign changes in near real time, through the Amazon Ads API.
How to create a small-business marketing plan
Creating a marketing plan is an integral step when it comes to maximizing the returns of your small business. But before anyone puts marketing budget behind a campaign, there are a few steps that are necessary.
Step 1: Know your customers (and competitors)
Understanding a brand’s most relevant customer is one of the most important steps a small business can take. One method is to also research competitors: Who is already in the marketplace, whom are they reaching, and what kind of overlap is there between your brand and theirs?
Step 2: Pinpoint your audience
Defining and segmenting specific audiences is important for a small business, but beyond knowing who their customers are, understanding what is important to them, and determining where they search for your product or service helps better identify how to reach them.
Step 3: Define objectives and goals
Identifying the objectives and goals of a marketing plan can help sharpen the means to achieve those ends. A marketing plan that focuses specifically on brand awareness is going to look quite different than one that is focused on referrals, leads, and sales.
Step 4: Create a marketing plan and strategy
With all that information, a small-business owner can then begin charting out the strategy to roll out a marketing plan.
Step 5: Implement, measure, and pivot
After implementation, measurement becomes an essential aspect of the marketing plan. While some small-business owners might begin to measure the efficacy of a campaign after its initial flight, measuring efficiency throughout the campaign helps small businesses tweak plans, reallocate marketing dollars, and pivot where needed.