Every business needs a strong start to a new year, and it’s never premature to plan for success. The best way to get 2018 moving in the right direction is to hold fall planning sessions with your marketing and sales teams. Here are five discussion topics to help get your 2018 strategic marketing planning process started.
1) Review 2017-to-date Performance of Your Marketing
Begin the planning session by considering the current performance of your 2017 marketing strategies. By understanding 2017, you can make critical decisions for which plans need to stay and which need to go. Focus part of your examination on strategies used to deliver the highest return on investment (ROI). Create new ideas on how to "retool and improve" strategies for an even greater ROI in 2018.
Examine for underperforming marketing strategies. Remove the thinking these underperforming strategies or activities will work eventually and eliminate them permanently.
2) Update Your Prospect/Customer Profile and Personas
Examine your client data from 2017 and identify which characteristics made them profitable for your business. Make sure this data is accurate and was updated throughout the year to reflect the types of customers who will help your business reach its growth goals. Talk to some of your clients; discover reasons why they buy from your business as well as what might entice them to buy from competitors.
Update or create your Buyer Personas 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. Select the right customers for the interview, use a structured outline to ensure the collection of desired information occurs and, for the best results, questions are open-ended and discussion-oriented.
3) Confirm Your Differentiating Factors
Use the customer information gathered from your client’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 all Marketing Materials
Content is King - so be sure any printed and digital marketing materials are well written to attract ideal prospects. Confirm through new purchasers who were closed in 2017 your materials are doing an excellent job communicating your differentiating factors as well as why candidates 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 site 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 social media content compelling, educational, or beneficial?
Make sure your website is well written, cohesive, and speaks to your prospects’ needs. It is extremely critical your web content is accurate, especially with the continuing surge in mobile phone usage. Use analytics to examine your site’s performance in 2017 to help determine if your content drove anticipated results.
Spending time to hold a planning session in the fall can help your business prepare with the best strategy for the coming year. It's been our experience 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 a higher return on investment. If you need assistance getting your marketing strategy aligned with your business goals for 2018, contact us - we can help.