A Goal Without a Plan is Just a Wish
The end of the year is a great time to reflect on what’s been and look ahead to what’s yet to come.
For most businesses, that process includes updating the marketing plan for the year ahead (or, for many small businesses, finally getting around to writing the marketing plan).
A lot can happen in a year - trends come and go, attitudes change and what once was hot, is suddenly not. Which makes this the perfect time to re-evaluate, figure out what went well in 2019 and take note of what didn’t quite work out.
To make it easy for you, I’ve broken the process down into an 8-step checklist.
Step 1. Take a fresh look at your online audience - it may well have grown, shifted or changed since last year. Your fans may have migrated from Facebook to Instagram, be enjoying stories or spending more time on LinkedIn.
- Who are they - age, location, interests?
- What are their pain points, needs, aspirations?
- What specialty products/services are they looking for?
- How can you solve their pain points with your products/services?
Step 2. Create an ideal client “Avatar”.
Zeroing in on your ideal customer - really picturing them as a single person - can help you to speak to your audience in a more personal way. Next time you post, visualise an actual individual and “speak” directly to them. You can have more than one ideal customer Avatar (and naming them is fun too).
Step 3. Revisit big ideas about your brand and business.
If you set out with a vision statement last year, has that changed? If you didn’t have a vision statement, now’s a great time to write one. Keep it simple and specific - think about what you want to achieve on a personal level through your business this year.
Next, write a mission statement - it’s the nuts and bolts of how you plan to achieve the goals in your vision statement.
Your value proposition - what you offer that will make customers choose you, rather than your competitor - is vital to define. It’s the most important marketing message and you'll use it consistently in every communication from your website to social media and newsletters.
Sometimes called an “elevator pitch” (imagine you have a 30-second ride in a lift with someone who just asked about your business), a value proposition is the distilled way to describe what value you can bring to the table. Make sure it puts the spotlight entirely on the customer.
Step 4. Look outside of your existing audience for your potential target market.
A little research goes a long way when you’re targeting new customers and retaining existing ones. Make sure you’re not basing assumptions on old information. Take another look at who your customers are, could be and should be, then question whether you're reaching them.
Step 5. Re-think competition and collaboration.
Which of your competitors had massive success or failed miserably this year? Why?
Has anyone new come onto the scene or exited stage left? What threats or opportunities might that present?
Try not to view competitors as enemies. No two businesses are the same and having a clearly defined value proposition is a great way to differentiate yours and find your niche.
Look out for opportunities to collaborate with competitors or cross-refer clients that perhaps aren’t the best fit for your business, but are perfect for theirs (and vice versa).
Step 6. Time for an update?
Take an honest look at the products or services you offer and question whether they are still relevant and in hot demand, or whether you could make improvements. Consider feedback from customers and staff and if in doubt, ask.
Also check your pricing - are you still in line with the market, or is it time to revise the price list up or down?
Is your branding on point and how’s your website looking? Consider refreshing if things are looking stale or outdated.
Step 7. Write your 2020 Vision Marketing Plan.
You should now have a much clearer idea of where you stand and where you’re aiming to be this time next year. Build on what’s going well and identify what needs to be worked on, then set out your SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based) and the steps you’re going to take to achieve them.
Step 8. Enlist some expert help.
You may be incredible at what you do, but you simply can’t be adept at everything. If you’re busy and stressed, enlisting the help of accountants, graphic designers, IT experts, content writers and social media gurus to help with aspects of the business you may not excel at - or enjoy - might be the best gift you could give yourself.
If you'd like some help putting together your own 2020 Vision Marketing Plan for next year, or need support with a website refresh or any other aspect of marketing communications, please get in touch and let's have a quick chat.