Is your marketing strategy defined for 2019? Will you be doing more of what you did in 2018 or trying something different? Or are you trying to reach the end of Q4 and haven’t had time to take a breath, let alone consider your marketing planning for next year at all?
Here are my 5 steps to approaching your marketing strategy for 2019. Block a couple of hours out in your diary today, and make a start.
1. Look at your 3 year plan
Having a 3 year plan is important, as it gives you a horizon to work towards. If you don’t have a 3 year plan written down, don’t panic, you probably have some idea in your head of where your business is heading. Write a list of ‘what’ questions; what products do I want my business to be making, what services do I want my business to be offering, what new retailers or countries do I want to enter, what customer growth does my business need, what investment does my business need? Then next to your list of questions make 3 columns for 2019, 2020, 2021 and start mapping out your goals for your business.
Leave the list at this stage, as you have asked yourself ‘what’ you want your business to achieve (your marketing goals) , you can come back to the list later to work through ‘how’ it could be achieved (your marketing plan).
2. Look at what worked well this year
Look back though your marketing plan for 2018 and look at your metrics to see what performed well. If you don’t have a marketing plan, or you aren’t measuring the results of your marketing efforts, then don’t worry, simply list out the major marketing campaigns you made this year (did you launch a new product? go to an exhibition or event? hold a competition with a relevant 3rd party that grew your email list? tweak your website messages?) and make a list of when you did that and how effective you think that was.
3. Look at what didn’t work well, or can’t be justified again
Think about the marketing efforts you made that didn’t meet your expectations. Did you print a leaflet or brochure that didn’t generate any leads? Spend a lot of time on social media without getting much response? Send an email campaign that a large percentage of your list unsubscribed from? Don’t just gloss over these less-than-optimal results, use them to better inform your next marketing campaigns. Make a list of these marketing opportunities with any notes you can about how they could be made more effective.
4. Look at the competition
Take your eye off your market at your peril. There is no point in copying competitors but do keep an eye on what marketing efforts they have made this year. Have they sent emails to their list that you can keep in your ‘swipe file’ for inspiration? Have they lowered their prices, had a promotion or launched a new product? Remember that none of these activities has definitely been a success for your competitor, but if they repeat this marketing campaign several times you can guess that it has had some success for them. Make a list of marketing campaigns you like, not only from your industry but from a variety of brands that ‘speak’ to you as a consumer.
5. Look at your customer feedback
Most important of all, do you understand what your customer wants? Do you have different customer types with different needs? You can find this out by gathering customer feedback regularly. If you aren’t recording your customer feedback already, start a spreadsheet or folder now, and keep it up to date. Even the most simple feedback can be useful in understanding your customer’s needs and desires, so try to build in a feedback method to your customer communication (e.g. please leave a review/ tell us what you think). Is it coming up repeatedly that customers wish they could recycle your packaging? Do they love a free shipping offer? Do customers often ask for a trial or a sample? All of these give hints as to the barriers to conversion (i.e. customers buying in) to your offer. If you have the budget available, it can be worth holding a focus group. Another lower cost way of gaining feedback is an online survey emailed to customers, with an incentive to give you their views. Make a list of interesting feedback and use it to group together or ‘segment’ different types of customers, as you may need different marketing tactics to reach different segments.
Summarise your plan
So now to draw it all together. Your marketing strategy shouldn’t be a lengthy document that you write up then forget about. Think of it as your ‘go-to’ summary of your plan for next year, to be reviewed regularly.
Your have your ‘what’ you are trying to achieve (see point one above- your marketing goals for 2019), so use the 5 lists you have made to create the ‘how’.
- List of marketing efforts that worked well to repeat
- List of marketing efforts that haven’t worked well, to be optimised and improved and then repeated with caution
- List of good ideas that your competition (or other brands) have used in their marketing
- List of customer feedback ideas that you’d like to action, and specific activities to target certain customer segments or groups.
You will now be in a great position to use your research and thinking on your marketing strategy to start to map out your marketing activities for 2019. When you start creating marketing activities and attaching budgets, timings and expected results to them, this is your marketing plan. When you are adding marketing activities to your plan, always ask yourself ‘why should my business do this?’ as this will help you to determine the outcome you are trying to achieve, giving you a much greater chance of success.
If you need help or support with your marketing strategy for 2019, contact us here at Brandbalm Marketing for some fresh marketing thinking for your business.