If you want to create a marketing plan for the future that positions your business to be even better than this year, reflect on what has happened so far in the pasr. You’ll be surprised to discover many missed opportunities.
Ask yourself some simple questions to reflect on this year:
- Did you understand your audience well?
- Did you develop your product line?
- Did you underprice or overprice?
- Did you react well to the competition?
- Did you underestimate the reach of your potential market?
Marketing without data is like driving with your eyes closed. – Dan Zarrella @danzarrella
The good news is that you can learn from any mistakes. Don’t even label them as mistakes. Instead, consider your misses as feedback.
Let’s take a look at how you can learn from all the invaluable feedback you gathered in the previous year.
Create Your Marketing Plan
When creating your plan, review what happened last year. Refine your failures and successes, define new goals, and clarify your marketing message. Also, try to understand your target audience better and schedule new milestones.
Review Failures and Successes
The best way to predict the future is to learn from the past. What worked better than you had expected and what failed to work the way you had hoped?
By evaluating what happened last year, you will be able to approach the future with the wisdom of hindsight.
Define Your New Goals
Based on your evaluation, rethink and redefine your marketing goals.
Create overarching goals and then subdivide them into sub-goals. Next, break your sub-goals into tasks. Finally, schedule your tasks and assign them to the right people.
Devise some way to keep track of each goal so that you can re-engineer them where they go off the rails.
Also, make sure your goals align with your company’s values.
Clarify Your Marketing Message
Use content marketing to clarify your marketing message.
Before creating any new content, review what content you created in 2018. See what depth and clarity you can add to your marketing message.
By auditing your current content, you can identify where your message went off-script. Think about what you need to change, improve, refine, or upgrade.
Create a publishing schedule to deliver the best content. Your goal is to patiently and consistently educate your readers about what your business has to offer them.
Understand Your Target Audience Better
The best way to understand your customers better is to talk to them. Find out what they like and don’t like about your company and its products and services.
Be open to any suggestions. You should avoid being defensive because you want honest feedback. So, your goal is not to defend your policies. Instead, it is to adapt your marketing message to meet the needs, wants, and desires of your target audience.
After doing your research, create a nice custom avatar. Russ Henneberry discusses building a customer avatar, also known as a buyer persona in his blog The Customer Avatar Worksheet: Finally, Get Clear on WHO You Are Selling To. Knowing what your customers want and need from you empowers you to build a better business.
Following these simple steps will boost your retention rates and attract new customers.
Schedule Your Milestones
Make a list of your most important objectives. These could be anything– product launches, announcements, marketing initiatives, or trade show events you want to attend.
When setting up your milestones, review your resources, ranging from people to assets. Decide on your budget, what teams to create, and your most important marketing strategies.
You may find that you have to change direction; or, that you can improve what worked in previous years with a new approach.
Market Your Business
After you’ve laid out your plan, then you need to figure out the best marketing strategies for your business.
Marketing is no longer about the stuff you make, but about the stories you tell – Seth Godin
Think of ways to build your blog. Think of ways to use collateral marketing materials. Think of ways to create marketing videos. Think of ways to improve your email marketing. And think of ways to increase your social media marketing reach.
Build Your Business Blog
Building a company blog is something that takes years to develop. It is not easy to reach a large audience. Still, it is one of the most cost-effective means of building your business.
It requires passion and persistence to build your business blog. You need to understand what people are interested in and how to connect with your audience.
Over 77% of the internet users read blogs regularly
Active bloggers deliver an enormous amount of value to their readers. They convey critical information that creates startling results. As you build your blog, you’ll find that an accumulation of small victories often leads to long-term success.
Use Collateral Marketing Materials
Many types of printed marketing material are invaluable. For instance, when you meet a new prospect, offer them a business card so they can keep in contact with you.
It’s good practice to take an inventory of your printed marketing materials to see what may need updating and what you may need more of for 2019.
Print media continues to be valuable as a recent study found that 56% of customers find print marketing to be the most trustworthy type of marketing.
Create Marketing Videos
If you want to reach a large audience, you can engage them with videos. Use explainer videos on your website to describe what your business has to offer and use video tutorials on YouTube to explain how things work.
Resource: How to Use YouTube as an Educational Resource
Don’t be frugal with your information. It may seem counterintuitive to give away valuable information, but this generosity builds authority. People will come to trust your brand. They will naturally assume that if your free information is useful, your paid information must be even better.
People will begin to follow you for your expertise. The videos on your website and popular video-sharing sites will help you engage with your audience. You’ll attract the right demographics and find the people looking for what you have to sell.
Of course, it takes patience to win people over, but over time, you will experience a snowball effect.
Improve Your Email Marketing
No doubt you already have an email marketing campaign. Now your task is to figure out how to make it even better.
Here are some tweaks you can try:
- Offer more enticing gifts for people who sign up.
- Improve your email sequence.
- Cull emails that turned out to be duds.
- Write more emails like those that showed a high clickthrough rate.
- Include video in your email marketing.
It takes a long time to develop an effective email marketing campaign. You have to test different messages and try out different types of mailing schedules, and you also have to figure out the perfect ratio of content emails to pitch emails.
Email is the third most influential source of information for B2B audiences, behind colleague recommendations and industry thought leaders. @WordStream
Add value to every email. Think about what information is most helpful for your customers. This simple idea alone will help you to earn trust, encouraging people to open up your emails when they arrive in their inboxes. Consumers who purchase products through email spend 138% more than those that don’t receive email offers.
5. Increase Your Social Media Marketing Reach
If you don’t have a social media marketing plan, then create one. If you do have one, then figure out how you can increase your reach. Olivia Valentine mentions that 29% of Internet users use social media to research and find products to buy. You can see other statistics by reading her blog Top Ten Reasons for Using Social Media.
If things aren’t working for you, try out a different platform. If this still doesn’t do it, then consider tweaking the quality and quantity of your posts. Finally, if you come to realize that you don’t know what you’re doing on social media, then outsource the work to a social media marketing firm.
In summary, it’s worth the effort to create a marketing plan for 2019. Make next year better than this year by seeing all your “mistakes” as feedback. First, create your plan. Review what you learned, set new goals, improve your marketing message, revisit your customer avatar, and make a calendar of expected milestones.
Next, turn your attention to marketing your business through blogging, collateral marketing, videos, email marketing, and social media marketing. Make this year your best year yet!