Each and every year, it’s helpful to take the time to analyze your marketing program and initiatives. The end of the year and the beginning of the new year are natural times to engage in planning. Working on your marketing plan doesn’t need to be overwhelming – it can be fun and is incredibly helpful to position you for success in the coming year! We recommend a few specific elements for your planning process:
For most of us, the year is broken down into what we in marketing refer to as campaigns – specific outreach initiatives with a specific message for a specific purpose. Calculating ROI (return on investment) can take a variety of forms – review of the analytics for online campaigns, a simple calculation of the leads that were generated in comparison with the investment made, and even a subjective determination of whether the campaign was worth it because of the goodwill or response from your network you are receiving. It may also be helpful to separate brand-building activities from lead generation activities, as the return on your investment flows differently in each of these areas. Not all outreach requires an immediate reaction and your perspective (which I wrote about earlier this year here) colors your experience.
There’s nothing more encouraging than acknowledging the wins. Take the time to focus on the campaigns that were successful and thank the stakeholders who made them possible. Revel in the fact that good things have come out of your outreach and take that mindset into your planning for the next year. The goal is to create more wins!
Your marketing may be very consistent and similar from year to year. Having assessed your prior year’s marketing program, however, your strategy for the year to come may change. At least be open to one of two things: tweaks or experimentation. Tweaking your campaigns simply means reviewing the components of audience, messaging and distribution to ensure they align with your goals and are targeted to achieve the results you desire. The goal is to increase the efficacy of your campaigns. Experimentation is where it gets a little fun! Add the opportunity to try new things into your calendar. We have done webinars, an ebook, and posting live on social media as part of our own experimentation. Our clients have added Facebook advertising, physical mailings, thought leadership, and other outreach methods as part of their experimentation.
We all go into the planning process with great expectations. We have a vision of what marketing could be, how it can integrate with sales to achieve success, how it can maximize our outreach and reap dividends in ROI. However… this is a good time to remind yourself that sequencing your actual activity may be crucial to actually execute your marketing strategy. Your resources are personnel, time and money. Create a path to achieving your next year goals that takes your resources into consideration and segments the required activities from the ones that are just nice to have.
The last piece I would suggest is to be intentional in executing your planning process. For us, that means a series of meetings for one hour a week to dig into each of these areas. For you, that may mean setting aside an afternoon. Marketing is the activity that provides a picture of your company and services to your network and the world at large. It’s worth taking the time to focus. Happy planning!