Would you consider yourself a proactive or reactive marketer? Are you setting the pace in your industry or market sector, or do you feel like you are always one step behind the rest?

Go on, be honest, which one are you?

Proactive marketers are more strategic, nimble and aware of their surrounds, reactive marketers, on the other hand, are often the ones playing catch-up and missing golden opportunities to market effectively to their consumers in a timely manner. Quite often, they are blaming their marketing for their short-comings, when in actual fact, it’s them. To succeed in small business, you need to stay ahead of the market – not just ahead of your competitors but also your target audience and to do this you need to have a strategy, plan and the ability to implement it. So, as the new year kicks off, it’s time to take stock of your past year in marketing, look at what you have accomplished and set yourself up to be more proactive, relevant and on time with your marketing.


Be more strategic

Revisit your marketing strategy and give it the once over. Ask yourself, is this strategy still aligned with your business and where you want to be heading over the next 1 – 3 years. If you don’t have a marketing strategy, now is the time to develop one. It is singularly the most important task you can undertake to ensure you are not only more proactive in your marketing efforts, but you are also more accountable. A solid strategy will guide all aspects of your small business marketing from what you market, how you market, who you market it to and when.

Have a solid plan

Take out your marketing plan and read it, I mean really read it. Assess every single component of it including your business definition, target market, situation analysis, objectives and who your competitors are. If you haven’t done this in the past 12 months, chances are things have changed around your whilst you have stayed the same. Your marketing plan should be treated as an evolving document that is assessed and amended at least once per year. Don’t have a marketing plan? Then now is the time to write one.

Allocate a realistic budget

Do you have champagne tastes and a beer budget? If you have some fairly audacious goals and objectives for your business, then make sure your budget is set to support achieving them. So many times I speak with small businesses who are frustrated that they are not achieving sales or market share growth only to find out they have either no marketing budget or a completely unrealistic one. What’s worse is when a business has a substantial marketing budget that is being spent with no strategy or plan behind it – such a waste.

Resource accordingly

Have a look the marketing resources you currently have in place – check out what it has cost you, the return and the skills your resources have and assess whether or not these resources will help you achieve your strategic goals. Marketing may seem like something the janitor can do when they have some down time, but trust me, they can’t. A good marketer is hard to find and great marketing skills, like finance and business development, come from experience and learning. Marketing is so much more than placing an ad in the paper or posting on Facebook, so if you have the office admin person handling your marketing when they get a minute or you are doing it yourself, stop. Engage an expert to help with your marketing activity, it will cost you less in the long run.

Monitor & measure

This may seem like an arduous task, however, to understand where you are heading, you need to understand where you have been. Gather all the data you can get your hands on that will give you insight into how your marketing performed over the past 12 months. Look at what worked, what didn’t and try to understand why – make being insights led your personal goal for the year ahead. Once you have this knowledge, look at your revamped strategy and plan and set up a system that will allow you to quickly and effectively monitor and measure everything you do.

Follow these steps and not only will you become a more proactive marketer, you will become a smarter one – and who doesn’t want to be smarter?