Most shop owners are doing some kind of marketing. They have an Instagram account where the post semi-regularly. And maybe, they even have an email list.
But when it comes to having an actual marketing plan, most shop owners are just flying by the seat of their pants.
And while a lot of marketing is experimentation, the most efficient and effective marketers have a roadmap to follow for success.
So if you’re starting from scratch, here’s how to create your product marketing roadmap so you can turn strangers into satisfied customers.
THE BIG PICTURE
So let’s start with the big picture. I want you to think about your marketing plan as a funnel with three phases.
The top of the funnel is where people become aware of your brand, the middle of the funnel is where they consider their purchase, and the bottom is where they make their decision to buy.
(Note: Some of these concepts were first introduced to me by HubSpot who developed this model for B2B businesses, but I have largely adapted it to serve a product-based business.)
So let's talk about each phase and what you can do at each one to build an effective marketing plan.
PHASE 1 OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN: BUILD AWARENESS
At the top of the funnel are strangers, people who have never heard of you or your brand. They have desires and problems, and they regularly look to businesses to meet them.
By now, you have researched your target customer's needs, and developed a product you know will serve them. But the only problem is, your customers don’t know you exist yet.
So the first objective of your marketing plan is to focus on building awareness.
Ask yourself how you can get in front of your audience to "shake hands." The goal of this phase in your marketing plan is not to win a sale, but rather to win a fan.
Here are 15 ways you can build awareness of your brand. Some are free and some will cost you money, but all will help you gain the attention of your potential customers.
WAYS TO BUILD BRAND AWARENESS:
- Partner with a relevant influencer to review and promote your product
- Be a guest on a podcast you know your target customer listens to
- Sponsor a podcast
- Like and comment on your target customer’s social media content
- Run an exciting giveaway
- Pay for Facebook or Instagram advertising
- Host an event
- Set up a booth at a fair, show, or festival
- Use SEO to increase search traffic to your site
- Use Pinterest to share content from your site
- Sponsor an event, conference, or festival that your target customer will attend
- Develop a partnership with a complementary brand
- Create a wholesale program
- Open a sales channel on a platform that already has traffic like Etsy, Amazon, or Faire (Wholesale)
- Pitch a story to media outlets like: bloggers, local news stations and papers, and small magazines
Now before you get overwhelmed you do not need to do all fifteen of these strategies to be successful.
To start, pick two or three. Once you get some feedback, double down on the strategies that get results and leave behind the ones that don’t. Then, try a new strategy!
STAGE 2 OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN: PROMPT CONSIDERATION
So now that your potential customers are aware of you and what you do, now it’s time to show them how your products will make their life better, so they consider a purchase.
Your goal in this phase is to focus on the people who are thinking about your products and arm them with the information and inspiration they need to move forward.
Here are seven strategies you can use to get potential customers to consider a purchase.
WAYS TO PROMPT CONSIDERATION:
- Regular email marketing to advertise promotions and new arrivals
- Discounts, promotions, sales, or trial offers
- Product try on or demo videos shared on social media or YouTube
- Styling and use tips shared on social media or blog posts
- Gift guides for various occasions
- Size and fit guides
- Lifestyle photography or mockups that show the product in use
As with phase one, test a few strategies at a time to find the winning combination for your brand and audience.
STAGE 3 OF YOUR MARKETING PLAN: WIN THE SALE
And now, we’re in the final stage in your marketing plan. In this phase, your customer has decided they love your product, and they are ready to fill their cart.
But just because they want your product doesn’t mean they’ll actually complete the checkout.
There are many barriers that keep someone from handing over their credit card and the following strategies can help your customer overcome them.
Some might sound more like customer service than traditional marketing, but a good customer experience is the best marketing around.
WAYS TO WIN THE SALE:
- A coupon or bonus to incentivize the first purchase
- Clear shipping and return policy
- Affordable shipping rates
- A clear way to contact you with customer service questions
- An easy, secure checkout process
- An abandoned cart email sequence to reclaim lost sales
IMPLEMENTING YOUR MARKETING PLAN
With all of these ideas in hand, now it’s time to draw up your own marketing plan! Get out a sheet of paper and draw your funnel. Then, consider what strategies work with your brand and budget and start trying them today.
If you're struggling with getting past the awareness phase, (as many businesses do!), I highly suggest focusing on email marketing. It's an affordable and easy-to-learn strategy that's proven to drive sales for product-based businesses.
For more help with email marketing, check out our Mailchimp Design Masterclass to learn everything you need to know about designing an effective and beautiful marketing email.