We’ve all been there. It’s Friday afternoon and suddenly you realize that the end of next week is the start of the Valentine’s or Mother’s Day season and you’ve been too busy to plan anything yet. So you spend the next several hours rushing to prepare some sort of promotion or special, creating stress for you and your team and ending up with what is probably not the greatest campaign. Plus, by then, it’s probably too late. Your competitors have been advertising their promos for days or weeks by now and probably have an effective plan in place that encompasses email marketing, in-store signage, and social media interaction. By waiting until the last minute, you’ll have to rely on your loyal clients to hopefully remember your business and choose it as their gift option. Or settle for a less than stellar campaign and poor market penetration.
Let’s make 2015 different. Why not schedule a bit of time in the next couple of weeks and get your 2015 marketing plan in order now? Not only will it set you up for success in the new year, but it will reduce stress, and help you plan out your promotions and stay within your marketing budget for the year. By planning it all out now, you’ll also be afforded the time to look at what has worked and what hasn’t this year and last year. And you can make more effective marketing decisions for the future.
Here are some things to think about when planning your marketing strategy for 2015:
First, some Analysis
The first thing to do is to analyze what has worked for you (& what hasn’t worked) in the past. Take a look at your promotions and numbers for this year and 2013. You should be able to look back and see what worked and what didn’t work. Your staff is a great resource to look to for feedback as well.
Here are some things to look at:
- What promos were successful in the past year? in 2013?
- What promos were unsuccessful in the past year? in 2013?
- What did your revenue numbers look like by month?
From here, you want to really look at why certain promotions resonated with your clients, while others just didn’t seem to hit the mark. Were all the successful promotions during certain times of the year or for certain types of specials? What about the unsuccessful promotions?
This can also be a good time to do a SWOT Analysis to really take a look at your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats as you begin to plan out the next year. Even if you don’t have time to do a SWOT Analysis, you can still do a less in depth analysis of your current situation and your goals for the future. Here are some things to consider:
- Who is your current demographic? Are you effectively reaching them? If so, where?
- Do you have a different demographic that you would like to target in 2015? If so, who?
- As a business, what are you doing well? What could you be doing better?
- Have there been any major changes in the marketplace?
- Are there any new opportunities that you would like to pursue?
Now that you’ve completed an analysis of what worked and didn’t work in the past and where you want the business to be headed in the future, it’s time to start thinking about what you want to do in 2015.
Time to Lay Out a Plan
Start off with just a short calendar list of the promotions for the year. I like to break mine down by quarters and then by months. Lay out on the calendar when you will start and end promotions, along with a general description of what the promotion will be. But don’t stop there. You want to make your marketing plan more in depth than that.
Take some time to think about your social media and what sort of posts you want to share on there during the course of the year. Be sure to consider when and how you will post to social media and your blog. Keep in mind that while social media plays an important role in informing your customers of specials and promotions, that should not be its primary role. Social media is a place where you can create a community and use it to inspire and engage. If you do that well, then sharing news such as upcoming specials and promotions becomes an organic part of the communications.
Be sure to consider where other forms of communications, such as email marketing and newsletters, fit into this plan. Give some thought to what sort of information you want to feature in your newsletters and blog posts. Taking the time now to plan out what the overall year of posts or newsletters will look like will make it much easier down the road.
Make sure all of this gets onto your marketing calendar. And be sure to leave some room for flexibility. You want your plan to have the flexibility to make changes or shuffle things around based on the changing needs of your business and the marketplace throughout the course of the year.
Schedule Time to Implement Your Plan
Now that you have a plan in place, marketing in 2015 will be so much simpler. But there is one more key element of your marketing plan that you need to put into place. Regular attendance. A plan is only as good as the people who implement it. So make sure you schedule time regularly (once a week or so) for someone on your team to take a look at the plan and take care of the tasks that need to happen next to keep things running smoothly. If you make this plan a priority, and everyone knows what they need to do (& when they need to do it), then nobody will be running around in a panic at the last minute trying to get things done.
So now you have a plan in place and your team is ready for 2015. Be sure to revisit your plan regularly. Ask for feedback from your staff and clients. And don’t be afraid to make changes throughout the course of the year to make your plan even more effective. By putting a plan together in advance, you’re making it much easier to analyze and improve your business practices throughout the course of the year. That will lead to far less stress and a healthier business.
*** This article concludes our “Time for a Tune Up” series. We hope the series has helped identify ways that you can tune up your business practices, and carve out time to think about your business and marketing strategies for 2015.