As we approach the end of the year, many businesses are beginning to plan their marketing strategies for 2019. What are the best ways to promote your business moving forward? In addition to thinking through what’s worked well in the past, it’s important to look towards the future and take advantage of any relevant trends, too.
Are you ready to define your marketing strategy? Follow this guide for 6 steps to success.
Step 1: Take a Look Back
Before you can figure out where you’re going, it’s important to take a look at where you’ve been. Conduct a review of your 2018 strategy, asking yourself these questions:
- What were my goals from this past year?
- Did I achieve them?
- What marketing tactics did I use during 2018?
- How did those methods work out?
- Which strategies should I consider continuing for 2019?
- Which ones should I plan on dropping?
Step 2: Clearly Define SMART Goals
What are your goals for the coming year? It’s not enough to come up with a broad idea like, “I want to get more customers.” Instead, make it SMART:
It’s important you follow the SMART guide when you define your marketing goals for a few reasons. First of all, the more specific and measurable they are, the more you’ll be able to determine if you achieved them when you review your results.
Second, setting attainable goals is a bit of a balancing act: you don’t want them to be so easy that you achieve them quickly and don’t continue to push the envelope, but if they’re too lofty then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Third, if your goals aren’t directly relevant to your brand then you’re wasting your time and resources.
Finally, add an end-date on your goals. When will you measure your progress? I generally recommend waiting at least six months, as that will give you time to start to see results.
Here are a few SMART goals as an example:
- Increase website traffic by 30% in 12 months
- Increase my sales by 15% in 12 months
- Gain 100 new Facebook followers in 6 months
Step 3: Brainstorm Your Approach
Once you have your goals, you can evaluate how you’ll achieve them. For each goal on your list, write down any marketing tactics that will help achieve them. If you aren’t sure, research what’s been working for other businesses.
This is also a good time to look into industry trends and research any new strategies that experts are predicting will be important in the coming year. The better informed you are, the more effective your marketing strategies will be in 2019.
Step 4: Write It Down
You need to write down your marketing plan. So you can organize which marketing tactics you plan to use during each month of the year. This will help you visually see the various activities you’re committing to take on each month.
Make sure to include any ongoing content strategies (such as blogging, search engine optimization or organic social media marketing) as well as stand alone tactics (such as running FB ads during your busy season or launching a contest.)
Step 5: Take Action
Your strategy won’t be any good if you don’t follow it! Have weekly staff meeting give yourself and your team deadlines!
There are tons of planners and project management software out there to stay organized. Set reminders for specific marketing tasks that need to be completed If you are developing content try to stay one month in advance of when you’ll publish it.
Step 6: Review Your Progress
Every month, set aside some time to go through your Google analytics, and email open rates and see how your marketing is going. Think about any small changes you might want to try to improve results, and then see if those tweaks helped during the month when you pull your analytics the following month.
Every three to six months, spend more time doing a review. This is a good time to critically think about the various tactics and tools you’ve been using and the results you’re seeing so far. Ask yourself these questions:
- Am I on track for achieving my goals?
- Do I need to refocus my efforts in any specific areas?
- Do I need to shift my approach on any tactics?
- Are there any new strategies that I might want to consider tying into my current plans?
While this is the time to create your marketing strategy for the year, the best way to find success is to keep it top-of-mind all year long. In addition to helping you stay on track with your plan, retaining a marketing mindset throughout the year will help you carry out and/or tweak your strategy as needed to improve your sales results.
Here’s wishing you and your business a wonderful 2019!
About the author
Erika Taylor Montgomery is CEO of Three Girls Media, Inc., which provides custom quality content and personalized public relations with each clients’ goals and budget in mind. Learn more: www.ThreeGirlsMedia.com.