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2019 is just days ahead of us. Not only will we find ourselves taking half a second before we write a new year in the checkbooks, but we’ll also find ourselves making more time to try something new. One thing for sure is that whether due to changes in technology, new marketing channels or personal endeavors, 2019 will not be like 2018. Let’s take a moment to consider our marketing plans for the new year.

A Look Back

You probably tried a few different things this year. Some things worked, and some didn’t. As a fellow business owner pointed out, “I consider that tuition in my marketing education.” Do you know WHY those efforts succeeded or failed? Take some time to explore the past. First, put your ego in a desk drawer. This step is about facts. Talk to team members – both those in and out of your department. Look at the results of your programs, your digital analytics, customer comments and the conversations taking place. Understand where your good business came from, as well as the less than valuable. Consider speaking to your best customers as well as those you’ve lost. Talk to your team and get their good, bad and ugly.

Setting Goals

If you’re leading marketing in a large company, the executive team may have already set overall company goals. If you’re a small business owner, it’s time to set measurable goals for 2019 that you can check along the way on the road to success. This step is about marketing programs goals. In other words, what is going to indicate to you that your marketing programs are helping you achieve your company goals? A perfect example is growth. Most, if not all companies set a growth goal. If this is the case for your company, one example of a marketing program may be to look at zip code pockets where your business is low. Look at these pockets and identify one or two that show promise. Then determine marketing programs targeting those pockets. Set realistic, measurable goals for those programs. If those goals are lower than the amount of effort required, you need to rethink the plan.

Positioning, Branding, and Message

Clearly articulate your marketing message. Positioning and branding can be potent tools to compete in the marketplace but only through clarity of vision and in full support of the business objectives. Some folks love this step. It feels fun to them. It can be a great creative outlet, but that creativity must be in line with your company strategy. It cannot be something that stands separate and apart from what the business is delivering. The positioning of a value-based company is a great example. How many times have you seen messaging for companies promoting the value they give you for the dollar, only to find cheap products at a low price or good products at the same price you could’ve gotten online or much closer to your home? I highly recommend implementing some voice of the customer programs to guide this step. Large or small companies can do this in many cost-efficient ways.

Look Inside

Understand the way employees are understanding, engaging with and delivering on the brand. Try this. Walk up to an employee and ask them why customers spend money with you. How does it compare to your brand positioning and messaging? Go through your employee handbook? Does it look like the messages you’re trying to convey to your audience? If there is a disconnect between what employees think about the brand, their experience as employees and what you’re trying to market yourself as you have work to do.

Ask for Input

Unless you are the one and only customer capable of sustaining the business, you must ask for input to get different points of view. Your cashiers and customer service agents may not be a part of your marketing team, per se, but they see and hear everything happening with customers and product offerings. You can make this a fun internal promotion and award great ideas. Give them information about the competition, your overall goals and how you want to position (and why) the business. The beauty of this is that you don’t have use every idea, but if you get one great one, isn’t it worth combing through 20 not so great ideas? Plus, your employees will become your biggest and best brand ambassadors armed with great insight.

With these five basic steps, you should be well on your way to developing your marketing plan for the coming year. Keep in mind that your plan will live and breathe so that you can adjust as the market demands, and because you are focused, your adjustments will always line up with your goals.

A different kind of marketing gathering.
Boot Camp isn’t about the great presentations. Sure, there will be great speakers telling you great things and giving you more ideas. But, what makes this two-day event different is the hands-on planning you will do to put all your great ideas into focus and actionable plans. And, along the way, we’ll look at the stars, experience Winter Park, CO and maybe do a few “mental pushups.”
Interested? We thought so. Learn more…

A version of this previously appeared in the December 2017 issue of Biz New Orleans.

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