Start your business New Year resolution with a marketing plan that outlines your business objectives and marketing strategies.
An annual marketing plan keeps businesses on track with goals. It ensures marketing opportunities and budgets are maximized.
1. Start You Annual Marketing Plan by Reviewing Your Previous Year’s Marketing Performance
You’ll want to take a close look at how you performed over the current year. What marketing strategies worked and what marketing strategies were a bust? Adjustments that incorporate past marketing lessons should be made each year.
Here are some questions to ask when evaluating the previous year’s marketing performance:
- Did you achieve desired results from your marketing efforts (such as improved brand recognition, X number of leads generated or sales/revenue figures)?
- Has your target market, audience or geographic area changed over the year?
- Were you able to stay within a marketing budget at the end of the year?
- What areas of your marketing budget do you need to cut costs in for the coming year?
- What areas of your marketing budget do you want to invest more in for the coming year?
2. Get Organized
The first step in developing an annual marketing plan is getting organized. Make a list of all the marketing categories that are important for your business.
Typical categories in a marketing plan include:
- Advertising (print and/or online)
- Branding and Graphics (photography, video production, graphic development)
- Collateral (sell sheets, brochures, business cards)
- Events (trade shows, webinars)
- Direct Marketing (email, direct mail, list generation, promotional incentives/contests)
- Public Relations (press release distribution)
- Research (focus groups, surveys, marketing references)
- Social Media (social media networks)
- Website (search engine optimization, web development/hosting)
3. Define Strategies, Tactics and Budgets
Once marketing categories are outlined for your business, strategies, tactics, and budgets should be defined per category.
Here is an example of defining a strategy and tactics for the “advertising” category:
Marketing Category: Advertising
Strategy #1 – Drive traffic to website via social media
Tactic # 1 – Pinterest Pins
Tactic #2 – Facebook Posts
Tactic #3 – Twitter Posts
Each tactic will also need to have a budget, if applicable. You should record your budgets and what was actually spent so you can make any adjustments needed throughout the year such as moving funds from one tactic to another if needed.
Flexibility to adapt to a changing business environment and being “opportunistic” in your marketing plan throughout the year is important.
As we noted in our last post, trade shows provide an interesting marketing opportunity. But it’s not just a matter of showing up and hoping to talk to lots of buyers! Well in advance, you should establish a plan and a set of expectations, starting with the determination of a goal for your participation.
Is it reasonable to expect that you’ll actually make sales at a trade show? If so, how many dollars worth? Is it more likely that you’ll generate leads to be followed up on later on? If so, do you have a way to track those leads, to determine how many dollars worth of sales are ultimately generated from the show? Your investment might range from a few hundred dollars to take part in a local tabletop show, to much, much more than that to take part in a large national show. Either way, you want to get a good return on that investment, and that starts with planning, budgeting and goal setting.
Budgeting is obviously critical, but there are two ways to approach this issue. One is to set a budget first, and then to start thinking about what you can do within the limits of that budget. The other way is to start with the goal setting, and then start thinking about what it will take to reach your goal, calculating the cost along the way. Ultimately you may have to back off on the goal if you simply can’t afford to spend what it costs to reach it, but many have found that this “blank slate” approach is the best way to establish an overall plan. It seems to get people’s creative juices flowing better than a restrictive budget.
In addition to these big things, you’ll want to think about some little things. For example, name tags for everyone in your booth, formal or casual dress, scheduling and assigning each person to defined “shifts” in the booth, and building in enough break time to keep everyone fresh and at the top of their game. Trade shows provide a lot of opportunity, but it takes planning to maximize that opportunity.
In an earlier post, we stressed the importance of creating a Marketing Plan — as opposed to winging it. Do you remember WIDOW? (Winging It Doesn’t Often Work!)
OK, so how do you that? What are the steps involved in building a marketing plan? It turns out that it may be simpler than you thought, because the process of building a Marketing Plan really only requires you to answer three questions:
- Where are we now?
- Where do we want to be?
- How will we get there?
OK, it may not be all that simple, but it is pretty straightforward. Where are you now in terms of what you sell and who you sell it to? In terms of how much of it you sell? In terms of any threats or opportunities in your marketplace? Where do you want to be, in terms of revenue? In terms of any other metrics?
The Big Money Question, of course, how you will get there? We can’t tell you that today, but we can tell you that the “how” is usually easier to figure out once you clearly understand the starting point and the desired end point.