It’s year end. While for many that means a bit of a holiday break between Christmas and New Year’s as well as an end to the fiscal year, not enough business owners think about what it means for their marketing strategy. Year end is a great time for you to figure out what worked and what didn’t so you can set yourself up for success in 2019.
Here is a planning checklist to help you get your marketing strategy in order for 2019:
- Market analysis: Start by identifying any trends that are driving growth in your industry. This will ensure you are keeping up with how your industry is shifting. Once you have identified how the industry is shifting, figure out what your competitors are up to with their marketing strategies and how your audience is responding to them.
- Audit your brand: While you don’t need to go through a rebrand every year, you do need to make sure that your brand message is still relevant to your audience. It could be that you have changed your focus since the beginning of last year to follow industry trends, or perhaps you shifted your focus to cater to your audience’s changing needs.
- Define your marketing goals: Before setting your goals for 2019, you need to identify whether you achieved your goals from last year. It’s the idea that you need to look back before looking forward. If you didn’t achieve your goals, figure out why and set more achievable goals for the upcoming year. If you did achieve your goals, make sure you are pushing yourself to go further in 2019. And remember to make your goals measurable so you can figure out when you are successful.
- Set metrics: Once you have defined your marketing goals, you need to figure out how you will measure your success. If your goals were measurable, it’s a matter of selecting the appropriate metrics to track along the way. You also need to figure out how often you will prepare reports to measure your progress. At the very least, you should track your metrics once per month. If you are running an important tactic or trying something new, it might be good to do weekly check-ins.
- Choose your tactics: Figure out how you will reach your target audience in 2019. It could be through things that are already in place, but perhaps you want to try something new. At this stage, think beyond your budget. You can include things on here that might be out of your budget now, but could be considered as future options.
- Set your budget: Were you on budget in 2018? Perhaps there were things that cost more than you thought they would? Now that you can figure out the answers to those questions you can set your budget for your 2019 marketing strategy. Knowing what your goals are you should be able to pinpoint if there are areas you want to increase your spending. It’s important to be realistic about your marketing budget so you don’t spread yourself too thin, but you also want to give yourself enough of a budget to invest so you can achieve results that will allow you to grow.
- Set your timeline: Prioritize your chosen tactics and select those that you can both afford to do and have time to do this year. Then create a timeline for the year of when you will use your chosen tactics. Basically, this is a snapshot of your overall marketing plan for the year.
- Set milestones: Now that you have your overall plan in place and the timing of your marketing tactics, set smaller checkpoints along the way. This will help to keep you on track throughout the year. It will also indicate the steps needed to help you achieve your marketing goals.
- Create your content strategy: Before developing a content strategy, you need to figure out how much you can handle. The idea is that you want to be consistent with the content you are putting out there. Your audience will come to expect certain things from you. Create an editorial calendar for your blogging and set up scheduling for your social media content.
- Update your website: Year end is a great time for a content refresh on your website, especially if you have tweaked your brand messaging at all. You can also review the design of your website to make sure it is not out of date. It might just be time for a redesign!
A new year is a chance for you to start fresh for your marketing strategy, but you want to make sure you are starting off on the right foot.
Candace Huntly is Founder and Partner at SongBird Marketing Communications, an award-winning agency working to take company and expert brands to the next level. With a passion for all things related to creativity and strategy, she specializes in business intelligence, marketing & branding, content strategy & development, media & influencer relations, and social media. Basically, if you need to put your brand, product, or cause in the public eye, she will find a way to do it, while making the approach unique to you.
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