It’s that time of year again. Holiday decorations are already starting to creep in at national retailers, and we haven’t even stared down our Thanksgiving leftovers yet.
So – what are your plans for next year? Savvy marketers know that with the end of the year comes planning for next year. How do you anticipate allocating your marketing budget for 2019?
Having a strategic marketing plan in place helps your team make informed decisions. It also allows you to more efficiently use your marketing budget; instead of scrambling at the last minute, you’ll be implementing a well-thought-out approach.
This question need not add stress to your holiday buildup. Instead, ask yourself these 7 questions and let us help you take it from there:
- What do your analytics say?
Start by asking yourself and your team some basic questions about your marketing from the past year: What worked? What didn’t? Were there any untapped opportunities? Any unforeseen roadblocks?
It’s also import to look at your data – this can give you excellent insight into where your traffic is coming from and what’s giving you solid results. We’re big fans of using Google analytics, social media analytics, and programs such as Sprout Social to help our clients see what’s working and where they can improve on their strengths. Don’t leave your marketing planning to assumptions and shots in the dark: instead, take a good hard look at what your data tells you and let that be your guide.
- Have you done your research?
Have you talked to your customers, vendors, and sales reps to get their feedback? Does your team have questions about new products or marketing trends for the upcoming year? Marketing research doesn’t need to be expensive or time consuming. It’s often as simple as having a few key conversations to find out how you can better serve your customers.
- Do you want to just do what you did last year?
If you had a great year, then it might make sense to stay the course and continue doing what you did last year, with appropriate modifications. This makes sense if your marketing performance is satisfying your business needs. The benefits of this approach are that it’s easy to plan, saves time and effort, and can be a simpler budget approval process.
The downside of this option is that there are likely new marketing opportunities that have come up in the past year, so you might not be maximizing your brand’s potential. Another downside to doing what you did last year is that this can stifle creativity and the personal and career growth of your team, which can take a toll on morale.
- Should you copy your competitors?
There is often safety in numbers. Going with the flow and following your competition is an easy approach to justify. The benefits of this plan are that it’s easy to plan and execute.
However, the main drawback to this strategy is that you’re not standing out from the crowd. Do you want to follow, or do you want to lead? Another consideration is that your competitors may not actually know what they’re doing. Do you want your marketing to suffer because of someone else’s lack of knowledge or experience? Finally, it can be expensive to do what your competitors do. You’ll be competing for the same audience in the same way. It’s better to try and differentiate your brand.
- Do you want to start from scratch?
Sometimes measurable progress can only be made by taking a radical approach. To do this, take a major step back and get back to basics by asking questions such as: Who are our core customers? What makes them loyal to us? How do we find similar clients? Surprisingly, your team may have very different answers to such seemingly simple questions. You may benefit from working with an outside marketing team such as MCG to help you get the objective answers you really need. But once you partner with a team who knows how to do strategic surveys, analytics, and creative concepting, you can lay the groundwork for a fresh new marketing approach.
The additional benefits of starting from scratch are that you’ll likely revitalize your brand with something that’s new, interesting, and different from what you’ve done. Moving the needle can produce game-changing results, increase profits, and motivate your entire team.
- Have you established a budget?
An approved marketing budget allows your team to make accurate financial projections. It also allows your management team to signoff on the plan and avoid any surprises down the road. Your marketing budget should be a month-by-month plan with specific tactics that your team and creative agency can follow. Keep in mind: be sure to build a little leeway into your marketing budget for unique opportunities that may come up during the year.
- Are you ready for smooth sailing?
After spending careful thought and time on your marketing plan, implementing it is where the fun begins. And by laying out the groundwork well ahead of time, you can manage everyone’s expectations. Be sure to monitor your progress throughout the year and adjust the plan as needed by responding to industry trends or timely events.
If you’re overwhelmed by the planning process, give us a call. We can help you strategically walk through the steps and be sure to kick off 2019 with a bang.