'Tis the season for marketing planning. The budgets and goals can set the basis for determining your marketing strategy in the year to come. This process becomes harder when you're not sure where to start and what you might need to include in the budget six months down the road. So where do you start when creating your marketing plan?
Begin Reviewing Last Year's Marketing Plan
Take out the reports, budgets, and data from the past year and determine the successes, failures, needs, and unknowns of all your marketing activities. If you had a marketing plan from last year, did you follow it or did your initiatives take a turn elsewhere? Why? The key is to be completely honest with yourself and your team so you can use it to grow and improve the new year's marketing strategies. Here are some things you should review from last year's marketing activities:
The specific wins and losses for each marketing campaign based on the goals of each campaign
- Return on investment
- Brand awareness (reach/impressions)
- Customer retention
- What did you learn from these campaigns?
- Did you encounter any barriers?
- Did you stay within last year's marketing budget?
- Should funds be reallocated? Why?
- How valuable are all your assets? Where are the most leads coming from?
Using the data from the past year, you can make better assumptions and plans coming into the new year.
Creating a Marketing Plan for the New Year
Now that you have last year's findings, you can begin creating your marketing plan for this year. These are some of the things you should review when starting:
- What are your goals for the new year?
- Which sources and campaigns performed the best previously?
- Who is your target audience? Has it changed?
- Are there new initiatives for this year and what are the requirements?
- Are there processes that need to be changed or sped up?
- Do you have the resources to meet your goals? Will you need to outsource to an agency?
Once you have answers to these questions you can determine the priorities of each and how you will accomplish what you need.
Example 1: Brand Awareness
Let's say your goal for the new year is brand awareness. You need to create trust and a relationship with your target audience. Each audience will need its own campaign to attain your goal. This may include brand awareness campaigns, direct mail, SEO, social influencers, and more.
Example 2: Increase Sales
More than likely, this is one of your business's goals. We would venture to say there are two parts to this, brand awareness to attract new customers, and customer retention. By reviewing last year's sales sources you should be able to see your most valuable channels. Whether that's via social media, networking, Google ad campaigns, retargeting, and email campaigns. With proper tracking in place, you'll be able to determine which sources also hold the highest return on investment for your business.
Example 3: Speed Up Processes
Once your business gets to a certain scale, you'll notice tasks that take far too much time. Such as manual data entry. Chances are, custom programming can be done to automate these processes to make it quicker and less error prone.
Whatever your goals are, you can determine the means to achieve these as well as budgets for each of these. What many businesses will do is work directly with a marketing agency to be able to determine what budgets are realistic. Then based on your total budget and the priority of your goals, you can determine what is to be done this year. At this time you can also evaluate your resources to determine what can be done in-house or outsourced to a marketing agency.