Has January taken you by surprise and you haven’t yet done your new annual marketing plan? You will find you are not alone. Many businesses get so caught up in trying to achieve targets at the end of the year that the marketing planning process for the next year fails to begin until the year has already started!
Starting a marketing plan can be a daunting process you would prefer to put off and focus on the business of selling, but having a plan in place is critical for focusing effort, measuring and achieving success. Even if you are already receiving regular enquiries for your product or service, you need a marketing plan to ensure those enquiries continue into the future and keep building your sales pipeline.
Follow our advice and you’ll have your new marketing plan done in no time.
- Marketing Tip One: Define and learn about your target audience
In order for your plan to work, it must be targeted at reaching the right people who use your product or service and importantly, make you money. Make sure you understand who they are, their key demographics and how you can reach them.
- Marketing Tip Two: Perform research
If you aren’t sure who your best target audience is, you might need to research this. Research doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming – a lot can be done via social media asking for feedback directly or sending your customers online surveys by email. You might need to incentivise your customers to respond, but their feedback will be extremely valuable to you.
Research can also uncover a new target audience you hadn’t considered before or make you aware of how your business is really perceived, which might be different to how you thought it was!
- Marketing Tip Three: Assess your previous results
You’ve just finished a full year, so you should know how your business has performed. Look at your customer numbers, revenue and profitability. What marketing promotion did you do and what worked best for you to bring on profitable new customers? These are the channels you should look to include in your new tactical marketing plan, and test alongside new marketing channels.
- Marketing Tip Four: Formalise your business goals
Now that you’ve looked at how your business has performed, you need to formalise where you want your business to go over the next year and beyond. Many businesses will have one, three and five year plans, but for marketing tactics (how you are going to reach your business goals) you really only need to plan for the next year and that is what we are focused on achieving here.
Your business goals should be defined and measurable so you can understand if you are being successful. For example, how many new customers do you want to bring on board and how much revenue and profit are they going to make you? How much market share do you want to achieve?
- Marketing Tip Five: Define your marketing tactics
The next step is to add more detail to your plan – what tactics you are going to use to achieve your goals. For example, to target new customers you may want to use email marketing and to increase your general brand awareness you might want to make yourself more visible across social media channels.
- Marketing Tip Six: Agree your marketing budget and resource
As you know how many customers you are aiming to attract and how much revenue and profit you should make from them, you can set aside an amount of money for implementing your marketing tactics to achieve your goals. You also need to think about how much physical resource is going to be needed for implementation. If you don’t have a Marketing team in-house or lack certain areas of expertise you will need to think about engaging a third party who can fill your gaps.
- Marketing Tip Seven: Continually evaluate your results
Once you start to implement your marketing plan it’s important to review your results regularly. Often this will be on a monthly basis, as you need to give some time for implementation and results to accumulate before you can collate them and see the overall picture of performance and how sales have been impacted. Set up a spreadsheet to track the key metrics associated with your marketing campaigns in one place to make analysis easier.
- Marketing Tip Eight: Be flexible to changes
Whilst a plan is necessary to give you a framework to work to and focus your efforts, it’s important to remember that sometimes your plan might not deliver the results you expected or outside variables, such as new competitor developments, will mean that you will need to adapt and change your plan. A degree of flexibility is always important.