Creating your 2017 Marketing Plan
Greetings and welcome to 2017! Here's hoping your year went well and things are on the upswing. If you haven't already, it's time to put a plan together for your 2017 marketing. Any successful person will tell you that their success didn't happen by accident. It took a clearly defined business and marketing strategy and a lot of hard work to get where they are. Let's take a look at some ways to set up this marketing program, which you will then want to execute, monitor, and tweak throughout the year.
By this time, you should have a pretty good idea how your 2016 went. Did your sales (and more importantly profit) increase versus the prior year? What did you do that worked and what did you do that didn't? It's critical and sometimes difficult, to be honest with yourself in this step. If you put money into advertising in a certain publication that didn't generate a return, don't do it this year. If attending networking meetings such as BNI or the Chamber of Commerce produced a high return on investment, do more of it this year.
Goals for 2017
If you don't know where you're going, any road will get you there. I know you've heard that before, and that's because it's true. Set a few specific goals of what you want to accomplish this year (and beyond). One common rule of thumb is to increase the prior year's sales by a percentage and shoot for that number. You may choose other metrics to measure, such as add a specific number of clients or sales representatives. You may want to add a product line or perhaps get out of a product line that's dragging down the rest of the business. I prefer to set a couple of different goals that work together. Often one will drive the other, which in turn drives my personal goals.
Take some time to define who your ideal client is. Look at your current client list and see who your best client is. What makes them the best? Do they generate a lot of revenue for you? Do they give you a lot of referrals? What enables them to do the things that make them an excellent client. You may find that you have a great vertical market in one industry or one geographic area. Perhaps the identifying factor is age, income, time in business, company revenue, building size, or something else. Once you determine who the clients are that you like to work with, write it down, and get to work on finding a way to add more of this type of customer to your stable.
Determine your message
What do you want to focus on this year? How will you communicate it to your target audience? The foundation of this message should include what worked well last year and what serves your goals for this year. This morning I spoke to a commercial roofing company whose message for this year is the thousands of dollars a company with a large flat roof can save by proactively maintaining it rather than waiting until there is a problem and then calling for a repair. All of his marketing this year is going to focus on this one simple message and material supporting it.
Create your message
In marketing, consistency is key. Most studies tell us that we need to communicate the same message to a person roughly six times before they will make the decision to buy. If you're putting the same message in front of someone six times, you should ensure it's the right information. Start thinking about the images you want to use to communicate this message. Consider the print and digital assets you will need to create to deliver it. Start getting graphics designed and content written. What you're doing here is creating a library of information you can draw from for each touch point in your marketing strategy.
How much do you want to spend on marketing this year? There are no concrete rules of thumb on this, though the Small Business Administration recommends 7-8 percent of revenue for businesses under $5 million in sales (which is where most of our clients fall). I'll say you want to spend a little more than whatever you did last year, and don't skimp. Your marketing efforts bring in new and repeat business, and consistency is key. Don't cut this part of your company's budget if things get tight. You'll need this number when you start to figure out where to put your marketing dollars, and setting it up front allows you to create an effective mix of touch points in your strategy.
Choose your six touch points
As we have mentioned, you should reach your potential customers in a variety of ways. We'll explore each of these further in another post, but I've included a list of options here. Ideally, you want to use a mix.
- Co-op direct mail
- Social media posts
- Targeted ads on Facebook
- LinkedIn direct message
- Print material
- Drop in
- Phone call
Execute your plan!
Schedule out these touch points throughout the year. Mark it on your calendar or project management system and execute the plan. Stick with it as consistency is key. Monitor during the year if one thing works especially well and allocate additional funds to that. Keep in mind that your return on everything is not going to be immediate. It's all part of a bigger plan. If you're using direct mail, for example, don't send one and quit if the phone doesn't ring right away. We've found that it works best if your customers see it more than once.
Congratulations on formulating your marketing plan. Remember to ask people where they found you when a new customer calls! You need to know this information when you create your plan for 2018. Naturally, if you need help with any of these items, don't hesitate to give us a call. 330-272-1493.
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