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Strategic Planning in a Small Business: Post-Pandemic

Small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) are eyeing a world coming out of pandemic hibernation. 

If you are an SMB, you are not alone. As of last year, there were 31.7 million SMBs in the U.S (99.9% of all businesses). Out of that number, 3.7 million businesses had between one and nine employees. 

Strategic planning in a small business is always a best practice and even more important now. And keep in mind, that your strategic plan from last year will probably not hit the mark in 2021. 

The world has changed and SMBs need to be ready to jump in feet first with a strong strategy. 

Why? Because having a strategic plan is critical to your success. It’s unsettling to know that about 20% of new businesses fail within the first two years. But you can beat the odds by nailing down your strategy as soon as possible.

Here’s how to start working on your marketing strategy right away:

1. Check out the competitive landscape

A lot has changed in the past 18 months for everyone—including your competitors. Take a look around: have any of them closed up? Or, if not, how are they doing business these days? Are there new businesses that stepped up to fill any gaps? 

You definitely need to do a new competitive analysis to help you understand what has changed and what has remained the same.

2. Listen to your customers

Like everyone else, your customers’ lives were disrupted as well. Many people lost their jobs, others lost jobs and got new ones. And a significant section of many industries turned their staff into a remote workforce. 

No matter where your customers are, check in with them to find out what their current needs are. You may be surprised to find out that you need to do less of some things. Or, you may need to redouble your efforts in other areas that seem to be working.

3. Be ruthless about your priorities

Most SMBs have a limited budget and as much as you’d like to, you can’t do it all.

So, make a list of your marketing goals and then prioritize that list. Once you’ve done that, you’ll need to whittle down that list to a manageable level. 

The key is to make sure your goals are actionable, achievable and will bring you a reasonable rate of return. And most importantly, focus on the foundation first! 

It’s important to be very clear about what you and your team can execute and how much you are willing to spend (in time or money) to get them done.

4. What’s the ROI?

To help you along in your goal priorities, take a look at your top priorities and make sure that they are bringing in the results you need. 

Make a list of where you are investing your resources and compare that to your goals and your most profitable programs. That is the sweet spot where you need to be as an SMB on a limited budget.

5. If you have the time, use some of these free tools

Not every marketing activity needs to cost a lot of money…though you may need to invest a bit of time. Here are some tools that SMBs can take advantage of:

  • Google My Business (GMB). Every small business should take advantage of this, especially if you have a local angle in your business. By setting up a GMB, your business will turn up in the search results with a Google map and basic information on how to find you whenever anyone is looking for your particular type of business. Setting it up is fairly simple as well.
  • Get active on social media. If you know who your customers are and which social media channels they use, you can engage with them while increasing the visibility of your brand. Some SMBs find that Facebook works really well, especially if they have a consumer product to offer. Other businesses find LinkedIn very useful to make business connections in a professional space. Post your blogs, enter into conversations in groups or better yet, start your own LinkedIn group.
  • Start an email marketing program. Email is a bit more time intensive, but the 1:1 reach out to customers who have asked to hear from you can be incredible. Embrace the challenge! And we’ve got six agile email marketing strategies that you can try right now.

6. Don’t forget the four pillars of a marketing foundation

Building a sustainable sales and marketing ecosystem is key to your successful strategy. 

At Tomato Fish, we have identified four key elements that you will need to cover for a successful marketing foundation

  • Branding/IdentityA strong brand is your company’s biggest asset. And having a great brand will help differentiate you from your competition.
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM)The purpose of having a CRM is to manage all of your customer data in one central location. Better organization means better for your bottom line.
  • Online Presence (Website)Your website is the homebase for anyone who might be searching for you online. It’s the place where anyone can interact with you from anywhere in the world.
  • Email MarketingTargeted email is a great way to engage with your customers and build brand awareness through measurable interactions.

Regardless of where you are in your journey, strategic planning in a small business will set you up for greater success as we all navigate this brave new world.

Head on over to our Discover redMAP page if you’d like to know more. You can take a free assessment of your own business there as well as schedule a quick call with us if you are stuck on where to go next.

Tomato Fish Is An Indianapolis Consulting Company Focused On Helping Small And Midsize Businesses Make Good Strategic Planning Decisions.