Knock the Dust Off Your Marketing Plan

It’s time to start thinking about your marketing plan for the next year, assuming your fiscal year starts January 1.

Around this time of year, assessment and planning starts. What advertising has worked? Should we put more money into interactive advertising? Do we need to revamp our website? While these are all things you should be thinking about, we recommend that you dig deeper.

Most marketing plans should not only contain your road map on how to spend next year’s marketing dollars, they should also contain a larger overview of your business landscape. Your marketing plan should have sections covering:

  • Target audiences
  • Competition
  • SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis
  • Business goals
  • Marketing goals and objectives

If your plan already contains these sections, knock the dust off of it and review the information. Is it still accurate?  What has changed? If your plan is missing these key areas, get researching. This information doesn’t typically change frequently, but the yearly development of your marketing plan is a perfect time to reassess your business landscape.

Target Audiences – You should have a list of your target audiences and understand how they relate to your marketing messages. Target audiences don’t often change, but you need to know when or if they do. For example, you might see opportunities to find new customers that are older, younger or in a different socio-economic group than your current customers.

Competition – You should be able to list your top five competitors. Take each of these companies and complete a profile on their business, specifically how it relates to marketing.  Understanding your competition will give you better insight into your company’s strengths, weaknesses and opportunities.

  • What key selling points are they marketing? What are their key differentials?
  • Have they been advertising? Where? What do their ads look like?
  • Review their website. Have they upgraded it? Are they adding features that are beneficial to the visitor? What is their message strategy?
  • Are they participating in social media? Is it effective?
  • Have they received a lot of publicity this past year? What for?

SWOT Analysis – A self-assessment of your company’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats should be reviewed and updated yearly. This assessment is a good group brainstorming session with the entire management team. It allows everyone to understand and relate to the issues.

Business Goals – Most companies define their business goals on a yearly basis. These goals will help you in developing your marketing strategy and creating an effective plan to help the company reach these goals.

Marketing Goals and Objectives – Once the business goals are established, the marketing goals and objectives, which are aimed directly at achieving and exceeding your business goals, can be developed. Never start your marketing plan without clear, distinctive business goals in place or you will be spending your marketing money without clear targets and desired outcomes.

Pull out your marketing plan and ensure you have the most up-to-date information to make certain it is effective and efficient.

(Thanks to Ivan Walsh for the photo.)

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