Running and building a small business is a tough road. Each day is filled with sometimes simple but sometimes complex choices that drive your business forward (or stalls it). This is where a roadmap can help.

When I say roadmap I don’t mean those thick multi-year plans. Business in today’s market, especially small businesses, need to be flexible and responsive. You need a marketing plan that you can refer to in a broad sense before you build out any marketing campaigns. You need a marketing plan that helps you keep your focus and remind you of the broader goals and how they support your business growth.


What do you need to plot your course?

There are a few things you’ll need to know in order to sort out the best way to market:

  1.  Who is your target audience?
  2. What are your marketing goals?
  3. What is your budget?

 Defining your target audience should be done in as great a detail as possible. You should know as much about them as possible as thins helps you in appealing to them through casual topics as well as pain relievers (your solution).

Your marketing goals should be simple and clearly defined.  And you’ll want to attach numbers to your goals as much as possible (with clear reasons). For example, are you looking to increase organic traffic? Why? Are you wanting to increase your social media followers? Why? How does that goal help your business?

The one that often goes untouched is the budget. You must have a very clear value associated with new business and the effort it takes to attract and land it.

Keeping an eye on the broader KPIs (key performance indicators) can help you choose more successful direction going forward. However, to do this you need to have numbers on previous marketing tactics and campaigns. These numbers need to be clean (not repeated, partially tracked or unexplained) and should be in the 100s for any sort of reliable data.


A bit of marketing math:

  • Traffic generated
    • Which sources brought traffic?
    • How much?
  • Opt-ins
    • Did they opt-in?
    • Open emails?
    • Purchase?
    • What are the numbers at each stage?
    • Conversion rate?
  • Reach
    • Social shares or paid ads (ROAS)
  • Sales
    • Is this a closed loop?
    • Can you track where a sale started?
    • Where they first entered your ‘system’ or ‘funnel’?
    • Conversion rate?

Using the above numbers you will be able to tell what was effective. You will see where your conversions drop, what to fix, where to invest, and what is working. Look at Google Analytics, Social media platform metrics, your CRM, email platform and any other software you use. You should find almost everything you need by looking here.

Don’t be distracted by near sales or almost customers. Pay attention to the actual purchases and the marketing efforts that resulted in sales. That is what will grow your business.

If you need a bit of help tracking some of these things, I’ve included a self-guided marketing roadmap that you can download here. It includes an additional piece to track your numbers moving forward.


Are you missing a marketing step?

Now, if other tactics resulted in a greater reach or greater opt-in numbers but not sales, that insight can be used to build out more effective marketing campaigns but on its own should not be considered a success.

A business goal should be directly connected to a revenue number and so should your marketing goals. For example, increasing an email list is a good goal but you need campaigns running to turn that list into customers. If you don’t, then you’re missing a big step and then those email numbers don’t really matter.

So, if you have already calculated that every 100 people that join your list adds 20 paying customer (with a specific value you can point to e.g. $30,000) then building your email list makes sense as long as you have the conversion from list to customer already set-up and working with conversions.