Al’s Column: How to develop a ‘right-sized’ marketing plan

December 19, 2017

December 18/25, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 14

By Jennifer Smiga


(First of two parts)

The slick print campaigns and glowing Instagram stories of big brands can make successful marketing feel out of reach, especially when you are running a one-person marketing department for a company, drafting budgets while posting to Facebook in the same day. It could even be soul crushing.

If you’re in this position, don’t let it get to you. You can grow a successful marketing strategy even if you don’t have annual sales in the six digits. What you need are some principles taken from the big guys and a budget that’s right-sized for your company.

Early this year The CMO Survey revealed companies in retail wholesale are now spending about 10% of their overall budget on marketing. This may seem out of reach for you today, but consider it in terms of future growth. At Marketing Rival, we find increases in marketing spend are directly related to increased revenue. Gone are the days where a company’s only option was to buy a print spread in a high-profile design magazine. Thanks to the power of digital marketing you now have the power to influence buyers at every stage of the purchasing process using your own website as the key tool.

Following are some tips:

Begin with blog content. Your first step toward creating a larger marketing strategy is to embrace a mindset change from manufacturer or retailer to magazine publisher. Your website and blog are your publishing platform to share your story. You should craft each blog post to attract your ideal buyer. If you’ve already started publishing, look at your posts with fresh eyes. Is your audience clear? Are you targeting another business owner or a customer? Are you talking to homeowners or designers?

For your blog to resonate with readers it has to speak to one persona. To help you focus each blog post, identify the pains and problems of one specific persona. For example, what are the questions your salespeople frequently field from this person? Each pain and question is fodder for blogs that will attract your desired customer as she searches on Google.

Model your marketing after a big company’s strategy. One of our clients is Polycor, a North American stone quarrier. You won’t find this company’s ads in print publications. Instead, the Canadian company has invested a significant portion of its budget in digital marketing with special emphasis on content marketing.

Since 2014, Polycor has consistently published blogs and social media just for members of the stone trade. In focusing on this sector they’ve developed a loyal readership and seen a direct impact on sales. In the last three years they’ve expanded their work to include email marketing, video, digital advertising and influencer marketing, and grown their own internal marketing team to leverage events and photography.

Their robust, weekly publishing may not be doable for your one-person marketing team, but you can implement the basics to align your sales goals and marketing through a strategic content and social media plan. Consistency, targeted communication and organization are key to making this happen.

In the second part of this two-part series, I will talk about a few tried-and-true tips for creating digital content. To learn even more about this topic, be sure to attend my presentation, “Small Business, Big Content: Wide-Reach Marketing Strategy Scaled to Your Size,” on Tues., Jan. 30, 12 p.m.– 1 p.m., at TISE in Las Vegas.


Jennifer Smiga is co-owner of Marketing Rival, a digital marketing and PR agency that creates profitable social relationships for makers of design products through storytelling, social PR and brand ambassadors. For more information, visit

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