Whether you’re an entrepreneur who just launched your company in 2014 or the Chief Executive leading a professionally managed entity, a strategic approach to marketing your firm is critically important. Successful business growth with marketing can be achieved through creative thinking and planning. Create your 2015 marketing plan. As we enter 2015 and you reevaluate your business plan, keep in mind that marketing (from social to SEO to the old-school approach of print advertising) should be a part of your overall strategy and is every bit as essential as funding the business, managing operations and productions, and hiring the right people.
If your marketing plan failed to ignite sales in 2014 – or you’ve relied too long on a plan you first created several years ago – we’ve created a checklist for the time-strapped CEO:
Update your marketing plan. A clearly defined vision helps guide all the work you’ll do on branding and advertising. It helps you identify the right audience for your product or service and articulate the best message to reach that audience. As part of your updated marketing plan, remember to include the following:
- In addition to your target audience, explore potential niche markets. Niche audiences have unique, specialized needs. Ensure you understand their price points, delivery methods, and cultural considerations.
- Are you running an ad on Facebook or utilizing retargeting banners? Set benchmarks for how prospects will respond to your advertising efforts, conversion rates you can likely expect from directed sales calls, and what type of content draws the greatest number of visitors to your website.
- Enlist the support of your employees in your 2015 marketing strategy. These are the people who work on the front-line, so it’s vital they understand your brand and can explain its value to the customers they serve.
Improve your understanding of the target audience. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, many businesses fall back on a shotgun approach to marketing. They’ll buy a large mailing list and send out direct mail pieces or create email campaigns that are entirely wrong for the prospects who receive them. The result is a significant waste of time and money.
Knowing who you want to sell to means cultivating a deep understanding of what this audience needs and the problems they want to solve. Rather than churning out web content and marketing materials boasting about your “wonderful” product or service (the shiny stuff, the bells-and-whistles features your engineers are so proud of), focus on the consumer’s primary concern: “What’s in it for me?”
Plan a new round of market research. When was the last time you surveyed your customers or conducted an in-depth study of their buying habits? How much do you know about their online buying activities? What about the social media influencers most important to them? Knowing how customers come to the decision to buy helps guide you in determining how best to reach them.
Get serious about social. Gone are the days of posting a status update to Facebook and hoping one of your followers likes it. With Facebook changing its algorithms almost daily, what’s the best way to make your corporate social pages work for you? In one of our most shared blog posts of 2014, our Marketing Manager shared her tips for developing a social media strategy: Know your audience and engage with them on the appropriate social channels, post regularly with relevant content, and track your metrics.