At the end of a year we all take time to reflext on what has gone well and what could have gone better both personally and in business. This is the time that many look back at the year and promise that “Next year we will be:”
- … and many many more.
Take advantage of the last days of 2011 to evaluate the situation and prepare to win new grounds in the upcoming months. To do that, it is only natural that you will need an integrated marketing plan which would focus on the specific company objectives and business goals along with the strategies and tactics that the Marketing department would use to achieve them.
Writing up such a plan will ensure that your company has a clear direction where results are maximized and expenses led to a minimum. Your marketing plan should follow a specific structure which will not allow it to diverge from what the corporate objectives are yet which is flexible enough to allow for easy moderations depending on the business conditions and the market opportunities which might arise throughout the year.
A great starting point would be to review your 2011 Marketing Plan and compare it with the final marketing performance. This close look into your company’s processes will allow for an end-of-the-year evaluation. Even if you did not have a marketing plan before, just comparing investments to results is bound to give you a pretty good picture of what has been working fine and what has failed.
- To get you started, here are some questions to consider when reviewing marketing actions?
- Did you reach your goals? (some goals might include improved brand recognition, sales figures, lead generation, etc.)
- What marketing activities gave best results?
- Which activities were a failure?
- How to best invest your resources to reach the targets you have set?
- How has your audience/clientele/ geographical reach changed over the past year?
- Did you respect your marketing budget?
- On what areas could you spend less next year?
- What areas need more money to achieve better results?
Answering these questions honestly will give you a great start on your 2012 Marketing Plan – take advantage from your experience and learn from the past.
What is a Marketing Plan?
It is a written document composed of 3 levels – strategic, operational and tactical measures to reach the overall goals. First of all get yourself organized and identify which components of the marketing plan go in which category of importance (strategic, operational, tactical). Some of the most common concepts in a marketing plan improve
- Advertising (online and offline)
- Branding and Design (promotional materials, brochures, videos, etc.)
- Direct marketing (emails, newsletters, database generation, contests, etc.)
- PR (press releases, external provider fees, inhouse salaries, etc.)
- Research (test groups, studies, surveys, etc.)
- Social Media Marketing (social media, content management, community managers, etc.)
- Website (SEO and SEM, hosting, domains, etc.)
Even if your business does not include all of the above you should try to make an extensive list of all the activities that it does involve to be able to make a realistic projection of the budget required and the ROI expected.
Defining Actions and Budgets:
Once you have identified the categories and determined some of the tactics you might want to employ with your business, it should be rather straight forward to calculate and approximate budget.
Here is an example of the strategies for the “Social Media Marketing” category:
Marketing Category: Advertising
- Strategy 1. – Build an online community relevant to the brand
- Tactics 1. – Research existing communities where conversations about your services could appear.
- Tactics 2. – Create a Facebook personalized tab to invite people to join
- Tactics 3. – Attract people with a daily blog post on XYZ topic.
Each tactics is bound to have a budget, if applicable. A marketing plan should measure the planned spending, the actual costs, and the budget variance to help you track how your campaign is being developed. This will also help you identify areas where you under or over estimated expenditure and make adjustments as you go.
Make sure that you keep a close eye on statistics, analysis and opportunities and are ready to change and adapt your marketing plan depending on the needs of the market. Set goals and make sure that you follow through in reaching them. This will give a jump start in the new and exciting 2012.
What are your marketing planning secrets?