Manage Your Marketing Plan This Year
By now you should be well into your business planning for the new year. A strong marketing plan should be a key part of the overall strategy you’ve developed, in order to build and strengthen your brand and continue building your business. Remember that a strong brand confers many benefits, including: •Sharper focus and clarity of your goals and mission
•Increase customer loyalty
•Higher revenues and profits
Your marketing plan needs to be reviewed every year so that you can revise and update your strategy based on what did and didn’t work in the previous 12 months. As your business grows, your goals and mission may change, and it’s important that your marketing plan changes with them. Here are the basic steps you should take when reviewing, updating, and revising your marketing plan for this year:
Review your goals: Whether you’re looking at a target revenue amount, or a percentage of market share, or some other quantifiable metric to define success in the new year, those goals must be perfectly clear. You’ll need to refer back to them throughout the year as you make decisions that affect how you do business.
Learn from last year: You should be tracking the success of every marketing tool you implement. How many emails are opened? How many phone calls were generated by each ad you placed? If you aren’t monitoring this information, that should be a priority this year. If you already have a system in place to quantify your ROI, you should be able to see what worked best and what was a waste of time, money, or effort, and adjust your marketing strategy accordingly.
Gauge the competition: Know what you’re up against. Thoroughly study the other businesses that are providing the same services you offer. Explore their strengths and weaknesses and keep them in mind as you review your own positives and negatives.
Define your niche: Once you understand your closest competition, you can work to set yourself apart and ensure you’re offering something above and beyond what they can produce. Does your nearest competitor lack in customer service skills? Are their prices higher than they need to be? Consider whether specializing your product or services to meet the needs of a very specific target market would benefit you more than a broader spectrum of offerings.
Add extra value: As part of defining your niche, you might consider providing additional information or services that increase your value to your customers and help you stand out. Consider a monthly newsletter that doesn’t push your product or services but merely provides information related to your business that clients will find useful. Look into coupons or buy-three-get-one-free strategies that encourage customer loyalty. Throw in a free service: mortgage loan officers can offer a free yearly review to get clients back in front of them; a house cleaning service may throw in a free refrigerator cleanup for loyal clients.
Get online: Hopefully this piece of advice is old news, but if it’s not, we can’t stress enough how important a web presence is to your business. Manage your profiles on Facebook and Yelp!; use Twitter to announce sales; invest in a decent company website; make an occasional Groupon offer. The more ways people have of finding you, the more people will find you.
Once you’ve taken a look at the items listed above, it will also be easier to develop your marketing budget for the year. Remember that it’s important to review your progress throughout the year and to make adjustments as you discover what’s working — and what isn’t. Make marketing work for you as you grow your business this year!