marketing planningIt’s that time of year again – marketing planning. That joyous time where you get to forecast your yearlong marketing strategies and budgets in order to create a marketing plan for 2016 that will attract customers and move the needle. Sounds simple, right? Well it’s actually not too bad if you just follow these helpful tips.

  1. Assess Your Current Marketing Efforts: What’s working? What’s not? What kind of results has your marketing generated? How do your customers/clients perceive you?
  2. Set Goals: Set a specific, obtainable and measurable goal that aligns with your company’s objectives. However, leave yourself a little wiggle room to tweak the goals should conditions change during the year. It’s also a good idea to set short-term milestone goals that lead to the primary goal to ensure you stay on track.
  3. Determine Your Target Audience: Who is your customer/client? What media do they use? What’s their age? Gender? Race? Get specific.
  4. Do Your Research: This is key as it will take the guesswork out of the process. It will inform every element of your strategy and plan. Research online. Conduct focus groups. Take surveys. The more information you gather, the better off you’ll be.
  5. Identify Your Competition: Are they a small business or huge corporation? Do they sell the same products/services as you? How much do they advertise and where? How/where are you better than them? How/where are they better than you? Knowing and understanding the competitive landscape is critical to forming and targeting your message.
  6. Write Your Strategy: This will serve as the roadmap for how your product/service will be marketed to your audience. It serves as the “brain” of the marketing plan, defining how your goals and objectives will be achieved. Marketing strategies can serve many purposes: increase sales, drive brand awareness, launch new products, etc.
  7. Establish Your Budget: Look at the tactics you’d like to implement to start the estimating process. Be sure to factor in any special events like trade shows or new product launches that may require special budgets. Consider what you can do in-house verses what you need to outsource.
  8. Determine Your Marketing Tactics: Are you revamping your website? Shooting a commercial? Running newspaper ads? Social media? Brochures? Look at past marketing efforts and drop the under-performers. Are there any new mediums you’d like to try? The key is to be where your target audience is.
  9. Establish a Timetable and Accountabilities: Set up realistic timelines and expectations. Assign responsibilities for people and hold them accountable for those tasks.
  10. Evaluation: How do you know if your marketing plan is working? What determines success? It’s critical to set up measuring guidelines so you can adjust accordingly.

Planning season does not have to be daunting. By following these tips, you can create a marketing strategy and plan that’s measurable, effective and profitable. Join us on Facebook and Twitter and share your thoughts.

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