With Christmas done and dusted and February approaching, there are no more excuses. It’s time to get down to business and set some goals for 2019 (if you haven’t already).
Part of this should involve a marketing strategy/plan. Even if your business is small, you need an outline of what your marketing hopes to achieve and how you will achieve it.
If you have never sat down in front of a screen to properly plan your marketing, here’s how to get started.
Step 1. Look back
Jot down a few notes about the marketing you did in the last twelve months, even if it wasn’t much. Identify the strategies which worked and think about which tactics weren’t successful and why.
Look at which marketing from 2018 cost you the most but also which provided return on investment.
Step 2. Review your goals
What do you want your business to achieve in 2019? It may be more corporate-level clients or it may be more online sales.
Knowing what results you want from your marketing will help you form a clearer strategy. Remember to create goals which are achievable and can be broken down, e.g. look to improve profits by 5 per cent per quarter instead of by 100 per cent over the next twelve months.
Step 3. Refine your target audience
Let’s say you’re targeting working mothers. Before creating a marketing strategy, make a profile of your ideal customer. What does her routine involve? What are her challenges? Where does she hang out when she is online?
By understanding your customers’ needs and pain points, you can structure your marketing to address them.
Step 4. Clarify your message
Part of marketing is having a clear understanding of your brand messaging and your values.
You don’t need reams of information but having definition about the benefits of your business and why your customers come to you (or why you want them to) can make a difference to your marketing plan.
Create some brand guidelines to set your tone of voice so it is consistent for your audience and therefore easy to recognise.
Step 5. Narrow down your strategy
It is better to make an educated assumption and choose a few marketing tactics and focus on them, instead of trying everything and hoping for the best.
For example, a real estate agency may focus on boosting their profile on Facebook and Instagram as they have noticed more referrals coming from these channels in the past.
A B2B corporate training provider may choose a blogging and content distribution strategy to keep clients informed of how training can benefit their business.
Once you are clear on your strategy, write it down. Allocate a budget which is realistic for your business. You may also wish to include some ‘no cost’ tactics like speaking at events or attending networking sessions.
Step 6. Keep track
When it comes to marketing, it is ok to fail but as the saying goes, “Fail fast”. Once you have your plan, make sure to track the results.
The reality of marketing is there is no perfect formula. You win some and you lose some, and it can be difficult to predict which campaigns will have the best outcome.
After three months, do a review to see if your efforts have brought more traffic to your website, more calls or more sales.
Step 7. Review and refine
Every failed strategy is a learning experience to grow from and it doesn’t hurt to seek outside advice to find out where you went wrong.
After you have reviewed your marketing strategy, take a look at what is working and see if you can build on it. Perhaps more budget may lead to more sales. You could also try expanding your campaign to a different demographic or location.
Once you have created a marketing strategy, don’t forget to share it with key stakeholders across your business and refer to it regularly. At the end of the year, you will be able to take stock and hopefully report on some positive results.