The end of 2015 is fast approaching, and you’re looking to start the new year off with a bang. Now is the time to start thinking about how your marketing plan is going to help grow your business in 2016.
All too often, business owners stick to their original marketing strategy they’ve used for years. They see some kind of result, and consider the plan a success, simply because it’s functional. However, just because your marketing strategy is working, doesn’t mean it’s working in the best way possible. Keeping up an old marketing strategy is a good way to fall behind on market trends, and lose out on potential customers.
What are you doing now to market your business? Are your strategies exclusively in-house? It’s a good idea to consider expanding your reach in 2016, as well as, your communication. Sharing your plan and keeping in constant communication with your media partner can give your business a real competitive edge. By communicating ideas, changes, and other relevant information, your media partner can work with you to optimize your results in real time, and ultimately, help you reach your goals.
It’s important to carefully build a new marketing plan that best represents your goals into the future. Not only does revisiting your strategy save your business money, attracting customers is an ongoing practice, and new strategies open up the doors for new customers. Here are some guidelines on how to get started when revising your marketing plan for 2016.
Step 1: Evaluation
The new year is right around the corner, and you’ve decided you need a new marketing plan to start the year right but, you don’t know where to start. The first step is to take a good look at your old plan, from this year. Start by examining closely, and asking yourself a few basic questions:
What parts of this plan worked?
How well did they work?
How did we track our efforts?
What parts of this plan didn’t work well?
Why didn’t they work?
What can we improve upon?
By taking a critical look at your previous efforts, you can be honest with yourself about what methods to keep and what you can get rid of. Take the parts of your 2015 plan, that have proven to be successful, and start building upon those. Say your goal was to grow your overall mobile marketing traffic in 2015. Did you meet your goals? If so, what methods seemed to work the best? If not, identify your shortcomings. Regardless of the results, determine how you improve this overall strategy into the new year.
Making sure you're tracking your business’ results is just as important as the results themselves. You can’t improve upon your marketing efforts if you don’t understand why they performed the way that they did. The best way to track marketing success is by gathering feedback from your target audience. How are your potential customers engaging with your marketing? Using tools like landing pages, dedicated URLs, and phone numbers can be a great way to gauge customer response.
Lastly, make sure to also pay close attention to the things that didn’t work so well. Take the opportunity learn why those methods didn’t work. What kind of results did you want to see? How can you revamp your plan to make sure you get the desired return?
Step 2: Set Goals
Set tangible, attainable goals for the coming year, and structure your 2016 marketing plan in a way that's going to help you achieve those goals. Unsure of what kind of results you want to see from your marketing? Look inwards, at your own business model, for inspiration. Take the values and objectives at the core of your business, and turn those principles into real success markers.
Say, for example, you’re part of Missouri’s healthcare industry. You know that brand building and mobile strategies are going to be important in 2016 and you know you want to increase your web traffic by at least 10%. Think mobile first! This means developing all of your marketing creative with the mobile viewer in mind. An easy way for businesses to accomplish this is by making sure your site is responsive. This is a simple way for brands to manage one site that responds to the screen size of the device it’s being viewed on.
Step 3: Establish New Methods
If using a content calendar isn’t one of your go-to tactics, you might want to think about making it one. Using a calendar to plan your marketing will not only increase your productivity, but it provides you with a larger view of your efforts to stay better organized and plan better into the future. Get a blank 2016 calendar, and mark significant days that you can factor into your strategy. Dates like holidays and special events can give you inspiration and add creativity to your marketing. In an article posted by Forbes, Laura Vanderkamp, author of the eBook “What the Most Successful People Do at Work,” suggests having a planning session at least once a week, to maximize productivity. Always leave room for improvement!
Even if your old marketing tactics yielded results, coming up with fresh new strategies for the upcoming year can only benefit your business. By studying industry trends, with tools like MarketReasearch.com or Euromonitor, you can align your marketing efforts with your goals.
Step 4: Get Digital
Your audience is making technology part of their lives more and more every day, with 46% of smartphone users reporting that their device is something they “could not live without”. Going into 2016 with a digital strategy for your business is essential to get results.
Your keyword strategy needs to be strong for your marketing to be effective. The old method of finding the best keywords to boost your ranking, isn’t as effective as it once was. New SEO strategies involve understanding what people are searching for and how they’re searching for it. SEO today is increasingly driven by natural language search, that is, people doing searches that are more like normal questions than two or three keywords. This is happening because people are using tools like Siri and Google Now and because people are including more detail in their typed searches as they seek to find what they’re looking for faster.
Additionally, make sure your website is responsive; your site needs to be able to adapt to different devices. By taking this step, your rank in search results will be boosted higher than those sites that aren’t mobile friendly or responsive.
Step 5: Start Thinking About Creative
Running the same ads for more than a few months at a time can make your marketing plan stale. Listeners need fresh content, that is updated often, to maintain their interest. A recent article published on Entrepreneur.com suggests that updating your creative should be timely, however, your redesign strategy should focus more on addressing problems with your marketing strategy. If your business is showcasing new services, events, or products, that would be a great time to reexamine your creative. Also, take in feedback from your audience. If you are receiving complaints that your site is hard to navigate, or outdated, a redesign will not only address this, it will show your listeners that you’re taking the time to hear what they have to say.
Always keep in mind that, a great marketing strategy has two distinct approaches: an outbound strategy and an inbound strategy. The way you market to your audience on-air, should feel similar to how you market to them online. For example, your outbound strategy may be to advertise upcoming events. When users visit your site, information about those events should be attractive, easily accessible, and should offer the user more in-depth information. When prepping your 2016 campaigns make sure that your online and on-air strategies are in alignment. Consistency is a small detail that your audience will surely appreciate each time they return to your site.
Step 6: Gather Your Resources
Resources can be anything from employees to analytics software. Make a comprehensive list of everything you're going to need to make your new plan stand out above the competition. Creating a list now can help you cut costs throughout the year. FastCompany.com offers an easy and effective pro-tip: Start with the basics!
What Are You Going to Do?
Is digital marketing part of your 2016 Strategy? Get your domain name, hosting, and your site template ready to go. Establish social media accounts if you haven’t already.
Is radio in your plan for 2016? Which media companies are you going to contact to discuss advertising options?
Who Is Going to Do These Things?
Enlist a team: Graphic designers for creative needs, a marketing coordinator to help you plan your strategy, a sales team to sell your products and services, etc...
When Do You Want These Things to Happen?
Get a calendar, a phone line, and other organizational materials to help you keep your marketing schedule on track.
Why Are You Taking These Steps?
To increase customer satisfaction? Develop your brand image? What are you goals?
How Are You Going to Accomplish Your Goals?
Make sure to keep an eye on your bottom line. Remember, the only sure fire way to know if your investment is working is to track how well your business is doing.
Remember that things like education can be considered a resource too. Proper training now on topics like SEO best practices and how to use Google Analytics, are readily available — and potentially free — for business owners. Training now places you ahead of the curve; you’ll be ready to track your success starting on day one of the new year.
Don’t be afraid of change. While it’s easy to get comfortable in practices that get results, it is just as important to know that change begets growth, no matter what industry you fall into. A new marketing strategy will require planning, and work, but will open your business up to endless opportunities in the coming year. Start planning now, so that by this time next year, you can look back and see what a success your marketing campaign was, giving you room to build an even better foundation for 2017.