The calendar just flipped to 2019. That’s right, it’s now that time of the year when you’ll search for a way to turn your eights into nines for the next 4-6 weeks.
Pro Tip: Stop trying. You can’t without making it look like the nine is in a different super-bolded font calling attention to your mistake.
But while you will waste too much time whiting out the dates on documents, you should probably focus on the things that will actually generate revenue for you this year. Creating a strategic marketing plan is a great way to identify the promotional activities that will generate leads and grow sales for your business. It can be a daunting task, especially if you are just now thinking about it.
Here are a few tips for creating an effective strategic marketing plan for 2019.
1. Start by planning for just the first quarter
Traditionally, you would create a plan for the entire year. Since it is January and you don’t have one, let’s just get Q1 on paper. Additionally, the rate of change in business today requires us to be adaptable, meaning there are some things that won’t pop on our radar until March. While you should make plans for the entire year, get the first three months completed so you know what you should be focusing on.
2. Start with the end-goal in mind
You can’t create a plan for advertising, event marketing, PR, or market research without a goal in mind. Everything you do should be moving you towards something.
Are you trying to increase brand awareness?
Do you want to generate leads?
Need to push a specific product/service?
Start with your goals because all activities should be leading to these ends. And if they don’t? Drop them or create a goal they contribute to.
3. Make your goals SMART
Specific – Precisely how many leads are you going to generate? How much revenue is going to come from each product? Or industry?
Measurable – How will you measure it? If you say, “Increase Awareness,” how will you know? If you don’t know how to measure it, then you can’t know if what you’re doing is worth it.
Achievable – Can you really accomplish your goal? Don’t agree to double sales if you can’t even support that much growth. Don’t plan a product launch for Q2 if you know it won’t be ready to sell.
Relevant – If it doesn’t matter to the success of your business, it shouldn’t be a goal. Don’t choose goals that have nothing to do with your company.
Time-bound – When does it need to be completed by? Maybe I can double sales, but not by the end of Q1. So, choose your deadline and make it reasonable.
4. Identify the lead measures
These goals we’ve been talking about? They are what we call lag measures. That’s because the effect we’re measuring (sales, leads) is created by something else. You need to identify what is causing these results (a lead measure) and do those things again and again.
For example, you most likely can’t go out tomorrow and just make a sale. There are tasks and activities required to make the sale possible. If you can back into the original actionable items you did to create the sale, then you can do those again and again. So, if writing blogs (something you can control) generates traffic to your site, turns into a lead, and becomes a sale, then you should make it a priority to write blogs.
Or, if you know that getting in front of someone is necessary to making a sale, then sending out emails to prospects offering to sit down for coffee should be a priority.
Set goals with lag measures, but for your activities, focus on lead measures.
5. Create a tactical flow chart
Once you’ve identified the things you need to do to accomplish your goals, put them into a calendar. We like to create tactical flow charts that tell us what we need to accomplish each week or month. Maybe it’s writing and posting two blogs per month or creating and posting regularly on Social Media. Or it could be related to attending or creating events where your prospects will be.
Whatever form it takes, make sure it’s something you will look at frequently as you sit down each Monday morning. While we have dozens of other tasks that are required to run our business/department, the items on your tactical flow chart need to take priority. Or you’ll look back at the end of Q1 and wonder why you’re missing all your goals.