For business leaders, January is a great month to complete an assessment of the previous year and develop a strategic marketing plan for the year to come. Most of us spend a significant amount of time working on the tactical side of our business. It can be challenging to find the time to focus on building your business strategically, but working from a strategic marketing plan throughout the year is very important. It can save you a significant amount of time, energy and money in the long run.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
1.Gather Baseline Data. Even if you are not a big researcher, chances are you have access to data that will be useful in planning your marketing strategy. Have you received testimonials from existing clients? Do you have feedback from customer surveys? Take a look at your email marketing reports to see how your messages compare to others in your industry. Which networking events and activities yielded the most qualified leads and sales? This information will help you set realistic goals and create a structure for tracking your progress going forward.
2.Establish Goals. Think about what you would like to accomplish this year. How many existing customers do you expect to retain? How many new customers do you need to bring in? Do you have a new product or service to introduce? These are all great questions to help you establish your business goals for 2011. Make sure that your goals are realistic, measurable, controllable, and flexible.
3.Action Items. Now that you have established measurable goals, start thinking about how you are going to make them happen. Creating a list of action items to help reach your goals can be a lot of fun. There are endless ideas for generating new business; but similar to goal setting make sure that each item is realistic, measurable, controllable, and flexible. Be sure to set deadlines for each item and milestones for larger projects. As you begin to draft your action items, consider the following:
a.What expenses are associated with each action item?
b.How many leads (approx.) need to come in before you generate a sale?
c.How much do you need to sell to cover your costs (direct and indirect)?
d.Will the action items you selected for your plan generate enough leads and potential sales to reach your goals?
e.Do you have time to do it all and run your business?
4.Use Available Marketing Tools. Be sure that you have the proper marketing tools in your toolkit to implement your plan with ease and efficiency. There’s nothing worse than wasting time and energy on issues that are not bringing in new leads or opportunities. Can you easily update the content on your website? Do you have a system for collecting and updating contact information? Can you readily post and schedule updates to all of your social media accounts keeping your clients and colleagues informed about your latest offerings? Can members of the press readily access information on your business and high-resolution photographs of you and your logo if necessary? These activities are all easily configured with marketing tools that will allow you to spend less time on day-to-day marketing tasks and more time with your customers.
5.Budget Time. There are two sides to any budget, revenue and expenses. As you begin to formulate your budget for the year, remember that you are not in business to lose money. Consult with your CPA or a financial planner if you need help configuring the numbers in your budget. Many people consider the expense side of marketing– fees for advertising, design, promotional materials, exhibits and more. Be sure to consider how these activities will add to your revenue stream as well. It is important to track your return on investment (ROI) whenever possible and with the marketing tools now available to most business owners this is very easy to do.
These are all important considerations when planning a new marketing strategy. As an added resource, sign up for our free newsletter and then download a free marketing plan template that will help you get started.
If you need help with the template or you have questions about which marketing tools could help you the most, please email firstname.lastname@example.org call (443) 420-8359.
Shara Darden is the principal of Firefly Marketing & PR.