Always have a plan.
Planning will save you time, help you to coordinate with other departments or team members, and keep you focused on the core objectives of your company. Know when you are going to commit time to marketing, and what specific tasks you want to complete.
This can be particularly important for small business or independent business owners who do most of the work on their own. Each minute is valuable, and knowing when you will sit down and post on social media or what blog you’ll be writing ahead of time will keep you focused during activities that can easily become a black hole for your time.
Create a marketing plan.
One great planning tool is a marketing plan. Don’t worry about special formats or perfection. A general glimpse of what you want to accomplish in the next month, quarter, or year will be a huge help in planning your daily or weekly marketing goals.
What should a good marketing plan include?
Review last year.
Using your information from the previous year's marketing will be one of the best indicators of what works specifically for your business. You should be able to answer: What worked? What didn't? Why?
Can you improve on what didn't work, or should you scrap that venue completely? How can you better capitalize on your most effective techniques?
Use any analytics you have, or review your sales and consider where they come from. If you aren't keeping track of your referrals, you should be!
Set measurable goals.
By setting measurable goals, you are more likely to accomplish your objectives. For example, I want to double my email subscriber list (a challenging but doable goal).
Once you've set goals, begin creating a plan for how you will accomplish each goal. What steps will you need to take? What campaigns should you create?
Make sure these goals are not only measurable, but also realistic. Will blogging twice a week really be a goal you can meet? If you set unattainable goals, no matter how good your intentions, you'll be more likely to give up quickly and never meet the goal you've set.
Start small, celebrate your achievements, and add new goals as you go!
Consider your budget.
Be sure you aware of the cost, in both time and money, for your goals. Is the investment worth the anticipated results? Be sure to have a plan in place for tracking results so you can really analyze how effective your efforts are.
Create a schedule.
The more you plan ahead, the easier your marketing efforts will be. Plan out the topic of each email newsletter. Plan your campaigns to coincide with holidays or industry events. Even if you occasionally deviate from your plan, having a master list will save you time in the long run.
Find the right tools.
“Work smarter, not harder.” If you have the same resources as last year, how can you make your marketing more effective? Find the right marketing tools. Marketing automation will make your job easier, freeing you up to focus on other areas of your business.
Schedule as much as you can in advance.
Social Media / Blog Schedule.
We talked about having a blog / social media schedule in your business plan. Add to this schedule (perhaps monthly or weekly) with current events or relevant content as your create it to fill in any gaps in your posting schedules. Schedule your content as much in advance as you can using your email client or social media scheduling services like Hootsuite or Social Champ.
Have a set of promotions that you can cycle through.
Since we’re all emotional buyers, using limited time offers or exclusive deals will really appeal to the impulsive side of customer’s brains. No wants to miss out on something, and we all feel special when we know we’re getting a deal because we are an email subscriber or a fan on Facebook.
Set up some basic promotions that will run a month (or holiday, or season, etc.) and make sure you always have a deal for your customers. Send out a monthly coupon to your mailing list for 5% off, or offer codes on Facebook for the first 100 customers. You can set up these promotions way in advance and even schedule them along with your emails and blogs. With a promo schedule, your entire team can know what deals are going on, and push on those in every department.
Don’t be afraid to tweak your plan as you go, using results from your campaigns.
Sometimes the market takes a drastic turn because of economic factors, or new technology, or a new competitor. Be ready to make changes to your plan accordingly.
You will also want to keep track of the results of different campaigns, posts, and promotions. Perhaps one performs poorly. You can nix that promotion and try replacing it with something different. Tracking results is a crucial part of planning, and will also come in handy when you’re ready to create next year’s marketing plan.
Do you have a marketing plan for your business?