|January 11, 2018|
Welcome to 2018!
It’s a new year, with new challenges, new possibilities and new opportunities.
That means it’s also time for your business to develop and adopt a new marketing plan.
Why not just recycle last year’s, you ask? After all, you’re still selling the same products or providing the same services to the same general market – so if last year’s plan did the job, you’re sorted. Right?
Measure, adjust and measure again. This is the mantra of the marketer for good reason.
Even perfect plans don’t stay that way forever, and the unpredictability of the marketplace makes a joke of any strategy that isn’t adaptive and current.
So whether you think it’s a good idea to recycle the same plan you’ve been using since the 80s, or you’ve just never bothered with a marketing plan at all (for shame), let 2018 be the year you shake things up and lay out a coherent communications strategy for the year ahead.
In the interest of helping you in this endeavour, we’ve taken the liberty of laying out some pointers to keep in mind when putting your plan together.
So, without further ado…
If there’s a clear theme threaded through this post, it’s that you should never take anything for granted if it hasn’t been tested, measured and proven.
That is as true here, as it is in several of the points to follow.
Maybe you’ve been serving the same market for years, giving a loyal and stable consumer base the service they’ve come to expect and that keeps them coming back for more. It’s worked for you so far, but maybe there’s little room for growth in continuing to target your existing customers, or maybe there’s an even more lucrative market to tap that you don’t even know about.
Use tools like Facebook Insights and Google Analytics to flesh out your picture of your audience; where they are, what they’re looking for and how best to connect with them. Likewise, emailers, customer surveys and other forms of feedback can also be used to provide insights into your market that might assist in identifying areas of potential market growth.
Once you’ve taken care to accurately identify your target audience, as well as where they are and what they need, it’s time to use this information to figure out exactly what it is that your potential consumer hopes to get from you.
Again, don’t take assumptions for granted.
You may think you know what your customers get out of your products, but unless you’ve verified your assumption, you’re only speculating.
Is your rubbing alcohol being used to clean wounds or windows?
Is your signature soft drink finding more use as a beverage or as drain cleaner?
Are customers swarming your hardware store because they want hammers or because they want keys cut?
What are the material and emotional benefits of doing business with you?
Don’t limit yourself – think outside of the box. It won’t always pay off, but it never hurts to try and look at your business from a different angle.
Just as you (really should have) collected and analysed data from last year’s marketing plan – figuring out what worked and what didn’t – so too should you turn to the campaigns run by your competitors for possible insights.
Run an SEO audit of their website to figure out how well they’re ranking for the search terms you compete for; identify their AdWords strategy and use online tools to measure its effectiveness; figure out their messaging, the audience it targets and how effective it is at reaching that audience.
The options are almost limitless and well worth exploring.
Not only will you gain practical instruction from their failures and successes, but the exercise will give you insights into the industry and its audience that you may not have otherwise been able to draw upon.
With insight into your competitors’ actions, tactics and benchmarks, as well as into your target market and what they’re expecting from you, you can move on to the next very important step…
What are the business wishes that you hope your marketing strategy will help grant in the year ahead? If you’ve gone through the effort described above, you know who your consumers are, you know where your competitors are weakest and you know exactly what gaps in the market can be exploited by your specific offering.
With that information in hand, it’s time to decide what realistic goals need to be achieved in order for your strategy to have been a success.
Whatever your goals are however, it is of paramount importance that they come with objective, measurable metrics. We’ve said before2 that the importance of brand awareness cannot be overstated and we’ll probably say it again. But it is a challenging metric to measure and its ROI is nebulous at best.
When it comes to outlining goals to be achieved by your marketing plan, the unfortunate truth is that on its own, brand awareness is still too subjective a concept to be considered much more than a wishy-washy “feel good” goal. Its effects will be evidenced in other metrics.
Go with hard-and-fast metrics that must be achieved according to a specific timeline and that, upon review, will give you a concrete idea of exactly where your plan failed or succeeded. Such as, but not limited to:
The list could go on and on, as there are almost as many potential goals as there are permutations of strategies for achieving them.
After you’ve done your research and identified your goals, all that’s left is figuring out which tools will best serve your needs.
That’s when it is time to…
By now, you know your customers or clients.
You know where to find them.
And you know who else is trying to talk to them.
All that is left to do is decide on exactly what methods you’re going to employ in order to not only reach them, but to make sure that they’re listening to you and not to someone else.
Does your audience consist of digital social butterflies, keeping their fingers to the pulse of every latest trend? Try reaching them through Facebook, Twitter and the blogs of the beautiful people.
Maybe your ideal market is made up of crotchety old men that hate social media and would never be caught dead within 1000 clicks of Facebook or Twitter. If so, your best bet might be to try going with thought leadership articles, via traditional media channels.
Your audience could be anywhere (sometimes where you might least expect) and the onus is on you to not just find them, but to communicate with them in the ways that they most want to be communicated with.
To reliably succeed, a marketing strategy must be well-planned, fastidiously tracked and accurately measured. Before you even consider rolling your strategy out, you need to know what goals it intends to achieve, and exactly how it will achieve them. This all requires a deep understanding of your audience and your competitors, as well as the ability to mobilise a wide variety of skillsets – not to mention the adaptability to respond to new information as it comes.
At Wetpaint, we’ve made sure that we are well-versed in all aspects of marketing communications3 and that we have the talent available to develop and execute any strategy that might be required by the brands we serve.
For proven strategies that really work and get results fast, get in touch with Wetpaint Advertising today!4