Planning for Marketing Success in 2017

Every business needs a strong start to a new year and it’s never too late to plan for success. The best way to get 2017 moving in the right direction is to hold a planning session in November and December with your marketing team. Here are five discussion topics to help get your 2017 strategic marketing planning process started.

1) Review the Past Performance of Your Marketing
Begin the planning session by reviewing the performance of your 2016 marketing activities. By understanding 2016 results, critical decisions can be made for which activities need to stay and which need to go. Focus part of your examination on data from new activities that delivered the highest return on investment (ROI). Determine how to "retool and improve" those activities for an even higher return in 2017.  

Examine for underperforming marketing activities. Stop thinking underperforming strategies or activities will work eventually and eliminate them permanently. If these activities have continued to historically deliver weak results, even though it may be hard to let go of certain activities, redirect the resources into successful and proven strategies.

2) Update Your Prospect/Customer Profile and Personas
Examine your best customers from 2016 and identify the characteristics making them profitable for your business. Make sure this data is accurate and updated throughout the year to reflect the types of customers who will help your business reach its growth goals. Talk to some of your customers and find out the reasons why they buy from your business as well as what could make them buy from your competitors.
Make sure your Buyer Personas are accurate. They are created through one-on-one interviews with active customers who influence or make decisions about purchasing.  Ascertaining valuable customer feedback is essential when collecting premium data for developing ROI marketing. Make sure the right customers were selected for the interviews, a structured outline was created to ensure the collection of desired information occurred, and questions were open-ended and discussion-oriented for the best results.

3) Confirm Your Differentiating Factors
Use the customer information gathered from your customer’s profiles and personas to review and update your Differentiating Factors. Make sure both marketing and sales are clear on what makes your company different from your competitors.

4) Review any Marketing Materials
Content is King - so be sure any printed and digital marketing materials are well written to attract ideal prospects. Confirm your materials are doing an excellent job communicating your differentiating factors as well as why prospects should choose your business. Make any necessary adjustments and be sure both sales and marketing are utilizing the current versions of all marketing materials.

5) Review Your Website and Social Media
Take a hard look at your website and social media channels to make sure they're designed to attract and educate your prospects. Is your branding and messaging consistent? Are you engaging with the right target audience? Is your content compelling and educational? 

Web content is critical. Make sure your website is well written, cohesive, and speaks to your prospects’ needs, especially if your other marketing is created to drive potential opportunities there. Using analytics, examine your website’s performance to help determine if your content is driving your anticipated results.
Spending time to hold a planning session in November and December can help your business be prepared with the best strategy for the coming year. However, it can be tough to be objective about your own company. As strategic marketers, we are constantly scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Our job is to search "what is happening" and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce higher return on investment. If you need help getting your marketing strategy aligned with your business goals for 2017, feel free to reach out to us.