Make marketing planning your top priority in 2017 [psst it’s not as boring as it sounds!]
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Make marketing planning your top priority in 2017 [psst it’s not as boring as it sounds!]

by
Helen Cox

It’s that time of the year, where we promise ourselves to do things differently. We want to make our business grow, we want to enjoy what we do – but then you have that sinking realisation that you haven’t had a new lead or customer for weeks.Then the panic kicks in.

Then you start going hell for leather with your marketing activity. But there’s no rhyme of reason to it – you just end up stumbling around in the dark hoping anyone will take a bite.

Doing things differently

You CAN do things differently and one of those ways is to create a marketing plan. Ok stick with me here I know that this sounds incredibly dull but if done properly you can have a structure that gives you focus and you can monitor.So how do you create the perfect marketing plan?Well firstly find yourself an hour or two of downtime and pull the dusty thinking cap out your wardrobe and ask yourself these questions [and don’t forget to note the answers in a word doc or whatever works…]

Where am I now and where do I want to be?

This is some time for some reflection. How well have you done this year, what has and hasn’t worked for you and what lessons have you learned? Are you happy with the direction of your business or are you looking to diversify – what direction do you want to take going forward? This is also a great time to take a look at what your competitors are doing – what are they doing that you aren’t? Are there certain things that are working for them that could work for you? Take a step back, analyse and reflect.

What are my objectives?

Think about what you are trying to achieve with your marketing plan and put some numbers around it. For instance, I want to sell 200 cookies in my first month or I would like to sell 3 consultancy packages. Get a picture in your head in terms of what you need. This will help focus your efforts. If you know what you need to sell and what to focus on everything will fit neatly in place.

What’s my marketing strategy?

So, I find that this always seems a little too technical and people get confused as to what a marketing strategy really is. I would just distil it down to these areas.

Target market – refresh yourself of who they are, what problems you are trying to solve and how you can help. Knowing who you target market will help guide your marketing tactics later. Who are the people you are trying to sell too?

Positioning – remind yourself of what makes you unique and why people would choose your product and services. This is your USP. Has it changed since last year? Are you taking on a new focus?

Message – if there is one thing you could say to your customers what would it be and incorporate your USP into this. Your message should come across in all your marketing material both on and offline.

Resources and Budget – be realistic and consider how much time and cost you can attribute to your marketing plan? Do you need to bring an outsourced marketing manager in who can help when things get busy? With the budgeting look at what you spent last year, what worked and didn’t work and make your budget lean based on what you know.

What are the best marketing tactics to use?

Your marketing tactics vary depending on the type of business you run and the product and service you sell. But what I would do is urge you to remind yourself who your target audience is. Where will they be? What will they be doing and how do they engage.The tactics I always start with are – social media channels, email marketing, SEO for my website, press releases, advertising both on and offline, guest or blogging opportunities, local networking events, google searches to build my business development list. The list is endless. Just make sure you pick what you can realistically do in the time that you have.When will I do things?

This is what I call the action plan. I always like to create a marketing plan for around 3 months. This gives me structure and focus but also gives me the opportunity to review and refine after a certain amount of time. I would take a look at the actions you are going to take above and then schedule them in.

How will I know what is working?

Keep a track of all the activity that you decide to run. Do this as you go and make a note of how much you spent versus your return on investment. For instance, did that Facebook advert you spent £50 turn around 6 leads for you to follow up with? Do you now have a meeting in the diary with one of those leads? Keep a track of what you’re doing as this will help you refine your activity for the next 3 months and show you what is and isn’t working.I hope you’ve found some of these questions helpful. I’ve been there before with my own marketing plans before and just taking some time out will hopefully give you some focus. If you’d like a free template for your marketing plan, please contact me!

About the contributor:

Helen Cox is freelance marketing consultant offering outsourced marketing management services. Helen has over 10 years of experience working in marketing in London. She specialises in outsourced marketing manager packages, marketing planning, and digital marketing.

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