As the end of 2017 is nearing, most everyone is beginning their business plans for 2018. By this point, you know what the growth goals are going to be, and you've outlined your SMART Marketing goals to get you there.
Ok, so now that we're all on the same page and defined what we want to achieve, it's time to develop the plan to get there! While we know it's easy to get excited and simply dive in, do not do it! Let's take a look at some of the critical factors you need to evaluate before developing your marketing plan.
- Buyer Personas:
Begin by reading through each of your current buyer personas. Are they still valid? Do they need any minor modifications or maybe some of them don't even apply anymore? Maybe you've released some new products and there is an entirely new market you are targeting. Make sure you keep your personas updated and in your mind when making every single marketing decision.
- Keyword Research:
Know the keywords you are trying to target in all of your digital marketing efforts. Know which will require paid efforts and which can be targeted organically. Make sure your plans are in line with this data.
- Historical Data:
Evaluate all of your statistics from this year's marketing initiatives. What worked and what didn't. Do not forget to think about the "why's" as well, what specifically caused the successes and failures.
- Competitive Data:
Go a step further than simply looking at your own historical marketing results, see what your competitors have been up to as well. Did they have a campaign that caught your attention? Did a division of their business explode and if so, what marketing were behind their growth?
- Digital Content Audit:
Make sure you've updated your content library index. Is all of your content cataloged and mapped to the applicable buyer personas and buyer's journey stage?
- Traditional Marketing Audit:
What traditional marketing materials do you have. Do the business cards need updated, how about those company brochures that the sales team use (are they current)? What promotional products or apparel and logo gear would benefit your various marketing and sales efforts? Do you have what you need? Is it all easily obtained by your marketing and sales teams?
- Industry Social Monitoring:
Take a look at any topics that have gone viral within your market or industry. Are their pain points or topics that you could address in your content marketing? Who are the influencers? How can you strengthen your relationships with them and partner to increase the spread of your content and brand?
- Planned Events and Sales Support Needs:
Take a look at the various pre-planned conferences, trade shows, or product launches. Keep them in mind when planning your marketing campaigns. Make sure your timing and goals are in line with these events. Incorporate them into each campaign, instead of standing on their own.
- Advertising Budgets and Opportunities:
What are your advertising budgets for next year? How will that be divided between traditional and digital methods? Are there new advertising opportunities you should explore and set aside a reserve for? Are there any formats that have consistently failed? How can you most effectively redistribute those funds?
- New Marketing Trends and Updated Methods:
What are the new marketing buzzwords? Are they actually new concepts or simply repurposed old ideas? Should you explore the possibility of adding any into your overall plan? What new social channels have popped up? Are any businesses jumping in on the action? Does it look like an opportunity for your business?
You may think it's silly to put this on a list, but think about those companies that quickly adapted to the social media market? Most of them saw huge growth success for very little investment (if anything at all). Keeping up to date on these can help you leap in front of your competition, just make sure you have a process in place for testing the water and be ready to jump ship if it isn't working.
At this point you're probably laughing a little inside and thinking "who really has the time to do all of this!", and trust me I completely understand that feeling. Everyone wants things instantly as well as perfect, and sometimes it's just not possible. It's like Benjamin Franklin once said, "if you fail to plan, you are planning to fail". Take the time to do it right, and you will reap the rewards throughout the entire year.
- This brings us to the last item in our list, Resources:
We all know that most marketing departments are significantly smaller than they should be. In fact, many companies have reduced their team all the way to one or two people, which makes it impossible to effectively deploy all of your marketing initiatives. To learn more about how other companies are managing these issues, check out our blog on Marketing Services Worth Paying For.
Lastly, if you couldn't look away and finished reading before completing your SMART goals, download our template to get started.