6 Must-Have Considerations for Your 2018 Marketing Plan
Let’s be honest. Branding and marketing are way more sophisticated than it was ten years ago.
Print ads and direct mail aren’t our only options. You need a responsive website, targeted emails and a content marketing plan. Add in marketing automation and other emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and chatbots and it’s enough to make a marketer’s head spin when they’re trying to make their annual marketing plan.
This time of year is a great opportunity to take stock of what’s working – and what needs to be updated or added to next year’s plan. Here are six must-have considerations to get your 2018 planning going.
Make an Assessment
It’s been said the best place to start planning for the future is to examine the past. What were you able to accomplish (or what is still on your to-do list) is an ideal way to start identifying what you want to accomplish next year.
Look at your goals and KPIs to see if you were on target with your lead, sales and revenue goals. Having a record of what you achieved makes it easier to understand what’s reasonable to accomplish next year.
As part of your assessment, talk to other internal stakeholders – including senior management, and fellow marketing and sales executives. This will make coming to agreement on goals and objectives easier as the planning process continues.
Establish New Year Goals
The idea of setting goals is nothing new. But there’s a reason why it’s so important. It works. Goals keep everyone aligned on the same successful outcomes and results.
One thing I’ve noticed throughout my career is that while goals are identified, they aren’t always written down or documented. A visible reminder of what you want to achieve keeps everyone focused on the task at hand – and accountable to making those goals happen.
Develop five to seven major goals that align with your company’s strategic initiatives. Add additional objectives under each of those goals to give additional guidance and context for what you hope to accomplish throughout the coming year.
Re-Examine Your Audience and Competition
In this case, it’s not bad to want to keep up with the Joneses. Your audiences’ needs are rapidly changing and your competition is evolving too. Your marketing plan needs to keep up with those changes too.
Use this time to examine what you already know about your target audience and make updates. Perhaps there is an industry-specific trend affecting how your target audience does their day-to-day job and you need to address that in your marketing communications.
Also look at how your company stacks up against the competition. How are they positioning their solutions now? What new releases or enhancements have they added this year? Understanding your overall market position helps you plan strategies and tactics for the coming year.
Fine-Tune Your Messaging and Content
Estimates vary, but SiriusDecisions suggests 60-70 percent of B2B marketing content and materials goes unused. That’s a big problem!
Rather than adding more content to your marketing plan, first take inventory of what you already have. See what kind of content you have to attract new prospects as well as nurturing existing contacts and leads. Don’t forget about the importance of using content to build relationships with current customers too.
You may find some gaps that need to be filled for next year. Or you may find a portion of messaging and content that only needs to be modified.
Identify Key Calendar Dates
There’s a good chance you already know key dates for important initiatives like product launches or important industry events. Start a calendar with these dates to plan supporting campaigns and communications. Knowing lead times will cut down on rush fees and extra stress.
Remember: the calendar is only a snapshot of the year. Build it with flexibility in mind because things will change. Save the detailed tactics and elements for the campaign’s creative brief.
Early forecasts predict 2018 marketing budgets will remain steady or slightly increase compared to 2017 levels. As you look at making plans for next year, compare this year’s budget with actual costs. Did you need more budget in the middle of the year or were you on target with your marketing spend?
As you go through this process it’s helpful to ask, “Will this help us achieve our defined goals?” If growth-related goals are on your mind, you may need to start planning now for a budget increase or to re-allocate dollars from other areas.
Need help planning or budgeting for next year’s marketing plan? Contact Swimmer Integrated by Design for more advice making your 2018 plan effective and affordable.