The change in year is an exciting time to take stock of your goals. Often at this time of year, we get very focused on personal goals, such as acquiring a new skill or reaching a personal financial or fitness goal. It’s just as important, if not more so, for entrepreneurs and business leaders to apply the same kind of attention and strategic thinking to the year ahead in business.
Often called the most important part of a business plan – the marketing plan – should not be ignored. Your marketing plan maintains and drives increases in sales, and ultimately your profits. If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to get your marketing plan ready for new opportunities and challenges in 2018.
First Things First
If you don’t already have a marketing plan for your business, stop what you’re doing and get one together. It doesn’t have to be incredibly detailed, at first. Key elements of marketing plans include: target market, competition, environment, business analysis and marketing strategies. Once you’ve done your research on the business environment, start with some overarching marketing goals and treat those goals as an outline you can flesh out with smaller, specific objectives that will add up to help you accomplish your goals. If you have a plan in place, now’s the time to review, update and refine it for 2018.
For those with existing plans, you may have focused a lot on something that is no longer relevant, and it’s time to shift. It’s crucially important in a changing and fragmented promotional and marketing landscape to stay abreast of which media your targeted clients are most attuned to. If you had a section on the (now defunct) social media platform, Vine, for example, it may be time to revise your plan! Also important is to regularly assess your competition, and what worked, what didn’t work and what you should do more or less of as part of your plan. Marketing plans are living documents and should be looked at often, even during the course of the year. Schedule time for yourself to find ways to adjust to be even more successful, then put your marketing budget toward those strategies that really worked for you. For many, the marketing budget is limited, so use the money wisely.
Whether you have a detailed marketing plan in place or are launching one for the first time, make sure your goals and objectives are SMART. No, I’m not shouting at you – SMART stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-oriented. Without all of these aspects in place for a goal, you could be setting yourself up for failure. Set yourself up for success by making your goals extremely well defined, well thought out, meaningful, possible and with a deadline. Note: There are other variations on the SMART acronym, but the bottom line is – the SMARTer your goals are, the greater likelihood of success. And, it’s okay to adjust your goals and methods as you go, as long as you get the result you are seeking.
Finally, it’s wise to have a neutral, trustworthy third party outside your organization take a look and determine if anything is missing from your marketing plan, or if anything can be enhanced. If you’re short on time or could use some extra help creating or revising your marketing plan, please don’t hesitate to call on us to assist. We love helping businesses succeed through solid marketing and promotional plans.