As summer fades away and pumpkin spice lattes roll into town, one thing is certain – it’s time to begin your annual marketing strategy sessions for the coming year. In the most basic context, strategy is defining what your company wants to achieve and developing a plan to watch it come to fruition.
Anytime I set out to achieve a goal I schedule time to reflect and meditate on it. I need space to clear my mind and visualize the big picture behind the goal. The same is true when it comes to strategy planning. There are many benefits to having a solid strategy in order, but I advise taking a chunk of time to reflect before even jotting anything down on paper.
Effective planning ensures team alignment. The objectives are clear, which allows for everyone to prioritize their workload. This allows for the best use of resources across your team, particularly the time your employees are spending on projects. Once your team is focused on what matters the most, your company will see the results they desire.
As you plan your marketing strategy for the coming year, here are some tips to help you succeed:
- Determine your top three marketing goals: As a company, you should know your top three goals. This can be part of your mission statement or culture, as well as financial expectations for the year. If these are not established, work with upper management to determine them. Once they are established, every single event, advertisement, social media post, press release, sponsorship, piece of content or any other marketing materials should ladder back up to one of these goals. If anything comes across your desk that does not align with one of these goals – pitch it. Stick to the plan as to not waste your time, budget or resources.
- Review ROI from all previous activities: Now, just because something may align with one of your three goals, does not mean you have to proceed with it. Take a look at everything your company has done in the past. Are you able to show return on investment? If not, how can that change? ROI comes in many forms and I know firsthand that it is not always the easiest item to track. If you are just going for brand awareness versus leads, it is not always as quantifiable as you’d like. However, it would be easy to determine your ROI from a trade show by quickly seeing how much it cost and how many deals were signed and attributed from that show. Use this data to determine if it is worth the investment next year.
- Establish your budget: Budgets are a reality. You have a limited pool of money to use that must accomplish a lot of goals. Take the time to block off a meeting and understand where your money will go and how to plan for unexpected needs throughout the year (include line items for this). It is not uncommon that trade shows, events and sponsorships arise throughout the year that I would not be able to send my sales team to attend had I not planned for these unexpected items. Also, understand where your costs will be split with other departments in your budget. For example, website costs might come from marketing, IT, sales and eCommerce departments.
It’s tedious to jump into planning mode, but it is worth it. Having everyone on your team aligned and ready to go as 2016 approaches is well worth the investment it takes to get there.