New Year Marketing Communications Planning

Strategic planning marketing communications for the New Year
What worked this year? What didn’t work? Will you do something different next year?

New Year, no problem; if you plan

No doubt you, as all of us do, have swirls of questions floating through your brain as you plan your next year’s marketing communications activities.

Start with an evaluation and analysis of what worked, what didn’t work and why. Then add in the goals you’d like to achieve in the New Year, and plans for measurement, and you’ll find you’re nearer your target than when you began.

The greatest issue is knowing where you want to take your business in the coming year. Answering this question requires honesty and truthfulness with yourself.

So, go get cozy on the couch, print the questionnaire below, and get to work reflecting on your business’s marketing for the coming year.

New Year marketing communications planning gift

We’re put together this handy New Year Marketing Communications Planning Questionnaire [MS Word Doc file] to help you focus. You may download it and use to help your organization plan your public relations, social media, advertising or any other marketing communications activity that you must get organized for the New Year.

If you need assistance implementing your plans, or gaining an objective view on what your business marketing communications needs are for the New Year, call us. We thrive on strategic planning.

Are you confusing marketing with promotions?

 

Confused about the difference between marketing and promotions?

While talking with a prospective customer, I learned that he struggles in a difficult marketing ecosphere. He works for a small family-owned company. What is his struggle? He must implement marketing for the firm’s services however, there is no clear agreement between the owners on marketing strategy and priorities.

As he told the story to me, on an almost weekly basis, he gets a new directive from one of the owners that countermands the previous week’s orders from the other owner. Many of us have worked with companies like this. The problem is (besides owners who don’t agree on marketing priorities) is the expectation that marketing will “pay off” tomorrow.

Many people are confused. They don’t know the difference between marketing and promotions.

A company’s marketing is a strategic approach that directs all their activities based on a set of priorities that have been built around explicit goals. Promotions are short term campaigns that fit within marketing plans and help reach goals.

Marketing plans help focus a series of activities or tactics. Promotions are a tactic.

As an example, I’m a homebuilding company whose homes are small entry-level, bungalows designed to appeal to first-time home-buyers. So, my marketing is then based on a series of strategic decisions to build a product that is appealing to these buyers. My homes incorporate all the features that my buyers desire, and I place advertising or achieve earned media in outlets where that buyer directs their attention. My strategies may include monthly promotions designed to call attention to the features of my houses or catch the attention of my prospective customers.

Marketing is based on a positioning statement and is supported by a plan that by months, or quarters, works to achieve the interest of the buyer or customer.

When you change directions weekly, you confuse the customer, you upset your marketing strategies and fail to achieve your goals.

You should tweak your marketing’s direction and focus to get even higher performance, but avoid disrupting it on a regular basis with an entirely new strategy.

photo credit: flickr user db photographs

Keeping your marketing communications current

Lessons learned

I’ve recently “moved houses” as our British friends say. In doing so, I’ve touched every piece of stuff that I own and have come to the conclusion that there is too much of it. The other realization that crystallized during this process is that some of the stuff should have been ditched long ago. Some items that I’d been keeping for sentimental reasons no longer have value, or function as they should, so they have been purged or donated to others who can use them.

Get rid of marketing communications that no longer work

It occurs to me that it’s the same with a company’s marketing, public relations and advertising. Every so often, we need to evaluate  to determine if the things we’ve kept have any use, purpose or even if they are functioning for our firm.

5 Steps to Stay Current

So here are my recommendations:

  1. Annually review your advertising placements and determine which ones have actually served your firm. For example, are you still using the printed Yellow Pages? If so, determine how many new customers you received from this expense.
  2. Annually review your website for functionality. Digital technology changes so fast and so often that a website designed and coded 3 years ago may now be out of date functionally.
  3. Monthly (or weekly) review your website for updated content. Search engines regularly scan websites and index fresh content. As a matter of fact, they have a preference for fresh content. Blogging, project photos, recent honors and awards, client testimonials and reviews are all ways to add freshness to your site.
  4. Every 5 years review your branding. Your branding should be something that will be relevant for many years so while you may not need rebranding it may need freshening up. In the last few years, brands such as Wal-Mart and ATT have revised their identities and messaging to be more contemporary. Your firm should do the same.
  5. Annually review your financial allocations for marketing, public relations and promotions. If the competitive space in which your company performs is crowded, you may need to step up your game in order to stand out. You might do this by adding new activities, placements, or marketing personnel. You may not need to add anything to your budget; you may just need to shift your priorities. But, you won’t know until you evaluate.

Be proactive for better results

If you undertake these five items, you can be sure you won’t be in the position that I was when I moved and can be assured that your marketing communications will be more current.

photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons image from ARTS