As 2015 sunsets, many of my clients are updating their marketing plans to chart their progress in the next year. I believe that the best direction for approaching annual planning is to have a simple set of five to seven goals for the New Year.
Each objective should include a measure of how well you performed in 2015. It should include an improvement anticipated for 2016. When a client isn’t sure what the stretch for annual improvement should be, I often suggest 10%. Once you’ve been doing this for several years you’ll be able to base goals partially on past performance. You need to set the bar high enough to motivate the team to do things differently to achieve better results without overstating your expectations. Put in writing the strategy you’ll use to make the anticipated improvements as well as your planned dates for implementing tactics.
What marketing tips might be helpful as you think about next year’s plan?
- Make a plan – Don’t just talk about it general terms. Develop a written plan, share it with staff and go back over the objectives monthly to review progress.
- Track Progress – You’d be surprised how many small businesses are not looking at website analytics to track changes and improvements. You can see what key words people use to find your site, see how long they engage with your content and identify effectiveness of social media in directing prospects to your website.
- Tell Stories – If you hear from clients how they have benefited from your product or services, write down their stories. You can use the content on your blog, include it in sales presentations and share it with staff to reinforce company culture.
- Pre-plan Topics – My clients that take the time to brainstorm a list of blog topics and then slowly work through the list are more successful in keeping up with writing regular posts. You can also assign people to topics once you’ve got a list. Continually adding fresh content to your website with blog posts can help with search engine optimization.
- Think Retention – Many companies are more focused on getting new customers than retaining loyal clients. Long-term clients are valuable and you should plan to meet with them to see how you can support them in meeting their 2016 goals.
- Be Inclusive – Rather than developing your marketing action plan on your own, reach out to your staff to participate in writing goals and strategies for the New Year. People from different departments have useful perspectives and may have many useful ideas gleaned form their interaction with clients.
- Take Photos – Your communication will be more interesting and engaging when you include photos. Camera phones take great pictures and can quickly capture events and activities that you could report in a newsletter or blog post.
Employ these marketing tips and develop a written plan for 2016 and your marketing program will be off to an excellent start.