Without customers, your business will die. Without marketing, customers and prospects may not be aware of how you can help them. Without a really smart marketing plan, how can you ensure your marketing activities are reaching the right people, delivering the right message, and using the right media approach to achieve your business objectives?
Incorporate these tips into your marketing planning process and you’re more likely to reach your goals.
Tip #1: Start with your business goals.
Marketing’s job is to support an organization’s business goals. It’s not just about beautiful, creative ad campaigns. It’s about programs integrated across media channels that are targeted, feature the right messages, are measurable, and help a company hit its goals.
Tip #2: Know your customer.
When was the last time you asked your customers about them? Do you know if or how their media habits have changed since you last conducted research? What words do they use to describe the problem your product or service solves? What’s their perception of your brand? Customer needs are dynamic. Spotting new needs or early signs of dissatisfaction can help retain customers and attract new ones. According to CampaignMonitor’s 2017 research report on email habits, more than half of those surveyed in the U.S. check their email accounts more than 10 times a day and it is by far their preferred way to receive updates from brands. How does this data influence your plan? If it’s been more than six months since you conducted research, it’s time to talk to your customers.
Tip #3: Ensure you have the right team.
Planning includes assessing your internal and external resources to determine if you have the right talent to create, implement, track, measure, and analyze your marketing campaigns. Marketing teams need both analytical and creative talent. First, determine what skills you need internally. Then, figure out what skills make sense to outsource.
Tip #4: Align marketing and sales.
Are the leaders of your marketing and sales teams attached at the hip? Do they exchange what they hear from customers? Marketing and sales alignment is non-negotiable. Every brand has a story. Both departments need to understand it and use the same language to share it with customers.
Tip #5: Know your numbers.
How did each of your marketing programs perform in 2017? Who did they effectively reach? Who did they miss? What was your return on investment? You can’t start the planning process without analyzing the year’s results. How will you know which tactics to include in this year’s plan without understanding which ones produced results? Leading marketers use data to back decisions. In a survey among marketers who exceeded their business goals last year, 56% strongly agree that decisions backed by data are superior to those based on gut instinct and experience.
Tip #6: Be honest about your budget.
Don’t start the marketing planning process without outlining exactly how much you can afford to spend to achieve your marketing and, ultimately, your business goals. That includes all of your spending from your internal staff expenses to external agencies, print, production, media, and research costs.
Tip #7: Spread the wealth.
Your audience is likely not getting their news and information in the same places they were just a short time ago. Don’t pigeon hole your marketing efforts into the same old media vehicles. Research all of your available avenues, experiment with new channels, and then track key performance indicators (KPIs) so you know what’s working.
As we approach the new year, it’s a great time to focus your marketing efforts around your organization’s strategies and goals.
Apply these 7 tips and improve your 2018 marketing plan.