How to Refresh Your Business Marketing Plan for the New Year

At the start of a new year, it’s natural to take a step back, evaluate how your business has performed and whether you’ve met your goals, and strategize what to do for the coming year to set and meet new goals.

At Addition Financial, we love talking to our business members about their business goals and we understand the essential role that a well-thought-out business marketing plan can play in pursuing and meeting important financial benchmarks. Taking the time to identify goals and map out strategies to meet them is a must. Here are our thoughts on how to refresh your business marketing plan for next year.

What is a Business Marketing Plan?

A business marketing plan is a roadmap that lays out your business marketing goals and the specific strategies you will use to achieve them. A well-thought out business marketing plan should include the following elements:

  1. Your target audience. Who are the people or businesses that are in need of your products or services? Marketing plans include a buyer persona to represent the target audience and your business may need more than one persona.
  2. Competitive analysis. You need to know who your competitors are and what they’re doing to sell their products or services.
  3. Unique value proposition. Your unique value proposition is the thing that makes your company different from your competitors and what makes your product different/better.
  4. Market strategies. Which specific marketing channels will you use to reach your target audience? Examples may include search engine advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, blogging, email marketing, and so on.
  5. Clearly-defined goals. You’ll need SMART goals to attach to each marketing campaign. As a reminder, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. 
  6. A marketing budget. You’ll need to decide how much you want to spend on marketing and allocate funds to each channel and campaign.
  7. Analytics. SMART goals require tracking, so you’ll need to include the metrics you’ll use to pursue your goals and benchmarks that will indicate success or failure. Each metric you use should be tied to one or more goals and monitored on an ongoing basis, so you always have an overview of your campaign’s performance.

Any business marketing plan must be flexible enough to allow you to move things around if it becomes evident that a campaign isn’t working. New channels may present themselves or you may find that it makes sense to reallocate funds to put more money toward the campaigns that are overperforming.

Why Do You Need a Business Marketing Plan?

There are many benefits to having a business marketing plan in place and benefits to keeping your plan updated, too.

It Identifies Your Target Audience

As we mentioned already, your marketing plan should include an analysis of your target audience. The benefit of knowing who is in your target market is that you can tailor your marketing campaigns to appeal to their needs. You’ll know what problems or desires might lead someone to look for your products and that means you can aim your marketing campaigns directly at the people who are most likely to buy from you.

It Identifies and Analyzes Your Competitors

Competitor analysis is essential because the only way you can beat your competition is by understanding what they’re doing and how your products or services are different — your unique value proposition.

It Gets Everyone on the Same Page

When you have multiple people in your company involved in achieving your growth goals, it’s necessary to have a roadmap to put everybody on the same page. Without a marketing plan, various departments could be working against one another and impeding your progress.

It Encourages You to Be Proactive and Not Reactive

On a related note, a business marketing plan can serve as a motivational tool to encourage outside-the-box thinking and innovation. While there are times when you’ll need to react to changing conditions, your marketing plan should take a proactive approach to attracting new customers.

It Helps You Define SMART Goals

Every marketing campaign should employ strategies that are designed to help you reach a clearly defined goal. Your marketing plan should include goals that are measurable and encourage you to monitor your progress. 

It Improves Marketing ROI

Marketing needs to deliver a good return on your investment or it’s not worthwhile. Without a concrete marketing plan, it’s easy to overspend on campaigns that aren’t delivering the results you want. You can use the metrics you’ve identified to track SMART goals to calculate ROI and use your ROI to reallocate funds as needed.

new year business resolutions worksheet

How Should Your Marketing Plan Align with Your Business Objectives for the New Year?

The first step to refreshing your marketing plan for the new year is to align your plan with your business objectives. Here are the steps to follow:

  1. Review Your Marketing Plan for Last Year. You’ll need to be honest about whether your goals were realistic, whether you achieved them and where your previous marketing plan fell short. You should use any mistakes or oversights you identify to help you map the road ahead, using what you learned to avoid repeating the same mistakes.
  2. Identify Your Key Business Objectives. You can’t begin to update your marketing plan until you’ve identified your most important business objectives for the new year. You might have an objective to increase your net profits or to improve existing customer retention, and you’ll need to spell those objectives out.
  3. Set SMART Goals. Your next step is to set one or more SMART goals for each objective you’ve identified. For example, you might have the goal to attract 10 new clients in the first quarter. The goal is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. 
  4. Identify Marketing Initiatives to Achieve Your SMART Goals. A goal to attract 10 new clients in three months could be accomplished using a variety of marketing tactics and strategies. For example, you might allocate funds to a Facebook or Instagram campaign that would highlight your services by featuring before-and-after photos or video testimonials.
  5. Define the Metrics You’ll Use to Measure a Campaign’s Success. Every marketing campaign you plan must be measurable, and that means you’ll need to define the metrics you’ll use to determine the success or failure of your campaign. You may use one or more metrics to indicate your progress toward each goal.

You may want to break down goals by the timeframe for each. For example, you may have the following:

  • Weekly goals
  • Monthly goals
  • Quarterly goals
  • Annual goals

If you want to attract 12 new clients in the first quarter, you would need to attract 4 new clients per month or one per week. You can decide which timeframes make sense for each marketing objective and SMART goal and track them accordingly.

What Happens if Your Marketing Campaigns Don’t Deliver the Results You Want?

While we’ve focused here on refreshing your business marketing plan for the new year, we think it’s essential for every business owner and marketing manager to keep an open mind about their marketing plan and revise it as needed.

One of the most common marketing mistakes small businesses make is acting as if their marketing plan is carved in stone. That should never be the case because even if you have an experienced marketing team, marketing conditions change constantly and you’ll need to change with them.

Let’s look at two hypothetical situations to illustrate what we mean.

SMART Goal: Attract 10 new clients in the first quarter.

Company A has set a marketing goal to attract 10 new clients in the first quarter. After one month, a review of their campaigns and metrics reveals that they have attracted only one new client, well below the pace required to reach their goal.

Their campaigns have been focused on search engine marketing. The right approach here might indicate a new marketing mix that incorporates digital marketing and a reallocation of funds to take money away from search engine marketing and put it into social media.

SMART Goal: Increase customer retention by 15%

Company B has set a goal to improve their customer retention by 15% over the previous year. After the first quarter, they realize that their customer retention has not improved by enough to make reaching their goal likely.

They review their marketing mix and spending and decide to take some money away from social media marketing and put it into SMS (text) and email marketing to stay in regular touch with their target customers and offer them access to special sales and discounts.

What you can see from these examples is that your marketing plan should be specific but you shouldn’t be afraid to refresh or tweak marketing efforts at any time based on your analytics and the performance of individual campaigns.

As the end of the year approaches, small business owners should review their existing business plan and use it to identify areas of weakness and strength and pinpoint new opportunities. Then, set new business objectives and goals for the new year — and most importantly, review these objectives and the marketing strategies being used regularly to make adjustments as needed.

Does your small business need financial support to pursue your business objectives? Click here to learn how Addition Financial can help.

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