Do’s & don’ts of creating your 2018 marketing plan

It’s that time of year: time to create your marketing plan for 2018. While this can be a daunting task – making it tempting to take shortcuts – there are some do’s and don’ts worth following.

Do review
Start with a review of your internal and external position. A full-blown SWOT analysis is not absolutely required, but do spend time thinking about your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Look internally at your strengths and weaknesses and externally for opportunities and threats. Be mindful about what may have changed both inside your organization and outside of it.

Don’t run on auto-pilot
Doing what you’ve done because you’ve always done it is not a sound approach to marketing. Take into account what you uncovered in your review, and with a fresh perspective, evaluate each aspect of your prior marketing efforts: the goals, the strategy and the tactics. What could be enhanced in your marketing materials? Did you reach your target market? If so, did they engage with your brand?

Do confirm or adjust your strategy
Your marketing plan needs to begin with a strategy that is aligned with your business goals. Your strategy might be the same as last year, but it may also need to be adjusted to reflect what has changed. Ask yourself these questions:

  • How have my business goals changed?
  • How have my products or services changed?
  • How has my target audience changed? Do they consume information or purchase differently?
  • What external forces (technology, demographics, etc.) could affect my goals, offerings or audience?

Once your strategy is solidified, you can move on to tactics.

Don’t wing it
Approach developing your marketing plan like a professional marketer would. Invest the time needed to gather information about advertising options, research each tactic to determine how well it fits your strategy, and bear in mind your annual marketing budget. Write your marketing plan out and communicate the strategy, goals and tactics with your team. Making sure everyone understands your goals, strategy and tactics is an important step toward success.

Do test
There are numerous factors that affect how consumers respond to marketing messages. Testing is a great way to see which headline, subject line, call to action, images, etc. garner the best results. If your plan includes digital marketing, A/B testing is a no-brainer. If you’re wondering how well a new tactic will perform, testing with a small segment of your audience can be a low-risk opportunity. Be sure this tactic is aligned with your overall goals and marketing strategy.

Don’t contract FOMO
Business owners sometimes think they need to try the latest marketing tactic simply because they’ve heard others are trying it. But not every tactic is right for every brand or every audience. Resist the fear of missing out (FOMO) if a tactic does not fit your organization’s identity, values or mission. Instead, invest time researching your options and determining how well each tactic fits with your strategy – and with your annual marketing budget.

Not sure what to do next? Don’t hesitate to contact a professional marketer for guidance. It’s what we do.

Author: Deneen Winters Bloom
Deneen Winters Bloom is our Director of Client Services.

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