2018 has arrived. And if you haven’t already started on your marketing plan and budget for the new year – this checklist might come in handy. Regardless of your vertical – from dental care to car repair, accounting to manufacturing – the marketplace is changing rapidly, so it’s important to stay current. This checklist has been created to help you design and implement a first-class marketing plan to support your efforts of gaining market-share for your small business this year.
1. Start by Reviewing your Mission Statement
Is your mission statement still relevant? If your business has been around for a while, it’s important to assess whether your current business model and strategy aligns with the mission statement that you started with. Has your business evolved? Has leadership changed? Maybe your products and/or services that you sell are different. Or maybe your business is growing and expanding its scope. Any of these scenarios can trigger the need to refresh your mission statement refresh.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is your business goal?
- What problems do you exist to address?
- What is the unique value proposition for your business?
- What is your target audience that satisfies the goal?
- What are your core values?
- What can you do differently for the audience to reach your goal?
2. Evaluate your Buyer Personas
As a marketer, when you originally created your marketing strategy you defined your target buyers and segmented them by their specific needs. But things rarely stay the same and personas evolve with your business. So it’s a good idea to re-evaluate your buyer personas at the end of each fiscal year while you’re developing your goals for the upcoming year. This will help you address their needs and create content that is more likely to generate qualified leads.
With the aim of selling to the market segments that will be most profitable for your business, ask yourself these questions:
- Who are you actually targeting with your content? A common mistake with many B2B marketers is to focus on the C-suite executives that make the final decisions. However, it’s important to also engage the layers of influencers along the lead funnel – those involved in the prospecting or beginning stages of the buying or decision making process
- What are the relevant needs of each persona?
- What role does each play in the purchasing process?
Focusing your marketing efforts on the various personas leads to more successful engagements as you can deliver content that people want, when they want it as opposed to generic information.
3. Review What Worked Last Year and What Didn’t
It’s difficult to develop a successful plan for 2018 without analyzing which promotional tactics worked in 2017.
Review the following to decide on a course of action for 2018:
- Website performance statistics – check load time, caching and file compression, mobile capability and SEO factors
- Traffic sources and the top pages viewed
- Which pages on your site have the lowest bounce rate?
- Number of leads you captured and how you captured them
- Review your content – Optimize Titles and Headlines as well as Text
- Which social media channels and/or websites referred the most visitors to your website?
- If you utilized pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns, which keywords were the most effective?
- If you promoted content (SEO), which keywords got the most clicks?
- Compare online efforts to offline marketing channels such as direct mail and advertising.
- Which channel resulted in some type of conversion – especially paying customers? Review all channels such as advertising, exhibitions, public relations, digital marketing and an effective ‘point of sale’, sponsorship, etc.
- When analyzing your website be sure to compare against your competitors.
Analyzing the above will allow you to decide on a course of action for 2018, focusing on the tactics that delivers the highest ROI.
4. Develop the Content Marketing Plan
Based on the steps above, your content marketing plan, or map, should be more than a simple list of topics to be published on your blog. Be sure to align your content ideas with your business goals.
Successful brands cut through the clutter by telling a single consistent story. Review your website content, social media posts, advertising, press releases and other artwork to ensure they are all on the same point and relaying the same message.
A content marketing map should contain:
- Your company’s strategic goals
- Marketing calendar
- Editorial plan – including topics/ideas
- Workflow process
- Channels you’ll use to ensure that you’ll connect with the right audience at the right time
- Team resources
- Key performance indicators (KPIs)
- Analytics used to track performance
- Assessment/Tweaking strategies
4. Plan for Customer Engagement and Retention
Devise a strategy to follow your leads from the day they discover you, nurturing them until they become a client, through to the time they prove their loyalty to you and become brand champions.
Keeping in mind that the most helpful brands win – there are a few key aspects of Customer retention and customer engagement that you might want to mix with your marketing plan:
- Business storytelling – develop and deliver a memorable story – build presentations that address in-the-moment needs of your audience.
- Loyalty programs – Keep customers loyal to your brand while giving yourself the ability to gather important customer data.
- Use surveys and polls to help you understand their buying preferences. What aspects of your company displeases them? What products seem to turn them less satisfied?
- Set up Drip Campaigns from Lead Capture – Set up a series of educational and trust-building emails and social media posts that builds upon your free opt-in item and nurtures the relationship.
- Ensure all content (online and offline) include intelligent, meaningful Calls to Action (CTA’s)
- Social sharing Buttons integrated – make it easy and quick for people to share your content
- Influencer marketing – influencer marketing has been growing exponentially over the past several years. As such, the industry has evolved to an essential part of many marketing plans for multinationals and small businesses alike
- Follow Your Competitors – this allows you to analyze what marketing tactics they’re using, and what is working, or not, for them.
5. Use the Right Marketing Tools
In the ever-changing business world, it’s hard to know where and how to invest your time as a small business. Thankfully, today you can access a very wide palette of tools that make automation, analytics and re-evaluation a lot easier, faster, and more effective.
Here are some tools to consider to help you in your efforts to crush the competition:
- Email marketing and automation tools
- Website traffic monitoring tools
- Social media automation and monitoring tools
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO) tools
- Polls and survey creation tools
- A/B testing creation tools
- Predictive analysis tools.
Some tools give you the ability to do a number of these every day chores from a single application while also allowing you to track the results.
Summing up the marketing plan checklist
Nothing works great without a plan. Once you have decided on your strategy, draw up a marketing plan that outlines how you intend to execute your strategy. Of course, not everything goes according to plan, so be sure to monitor and evaluate the success of your efforts on a regular basis, tweaking your marketing plan as you go. Numbers don’t lie. Don’t be afraid to move your budget around; dumping the campaigns that aren’t working, and doubling down on the ones that are delivering the best return for your marketing investment.
Need help with your marketing plan?
As a small business owner, you’ve got a lot on your plate managing day-today operations. However, to maintain a steady stream of revenue, building your brand and reputation also needs to be a priority. If you’d prefer not to waste precious time and money on marketing trial and error we’d be happy to customize a marketing plan to your specific goals and objectives. Combining brand marketing expertise with business experience, Mystique can help you craft the right brand message for your target audience and choose the most effective medium to deliver it at the optimal time to maximize the return on your marketing investment.
Contact us today.
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