I hate to say it – because it means I’m still getting older—but the end of the year is just around the corner. And that means it’s high time to start thinking about your marketing planning for next year.
I know, I know. No one likes to spend time planning. Get busy doing, or get busy dying, am I right?!? Unfortunately, without a plan you’ll be left chasing butterflies, and jumping on the next best thing all year—and wasting plenty of time and money along the way.
So put your thinkin’ cap on, follow our guidelines below, and set yourself up for success in 2024. And if you’re not quite ready to DIY your marketing plan, don’t worry, we’re here to help.
1. What do you want to achieve?
What are your business goals for next year? And beyond? Do you want to increase awareness, generate more leads, or drive more sales? Each requires a very different approach, and will have different success metrics to accompany them. Once you know where you want to get to, you can start fleshing out your strategies and tactics to get you there.
2. What worked last year?
Take some time to review your sales & marketing performance from this year. What worked well? What didn’t? Where does the most opportunity for improvement lie? Understanding your baseline will give you manageable targets and useful data to refine your strategies for next year.
3. Who are you trying to reach?
Who are your best customers? How can you find more people similar to them? And what do you need to say to resonate with them? Once you know your target audience, you can tailor your messaging and marketing channels accordingly.
Pro Tip: Most businesses think they need to find new audiences—that they need to convince different people to buy their products or services. Don’t do this. It’s too expensive and time consuming. Instead, spend that time gaining better insight about your current customers—their likes, dislikes, interests, passions, media habits, etc.—and focus your efforts into connecting with like-minded people. Find those who believe what you believe and make sure you’re in front of them.
4. What are your competitors doing?
Take a look at what your competitors are up to. In what ways are they outperforming you? Where do you have a leg up? Why should a customer choose you over them?
Pro tip: I know it sounds crazy, but consider collaborating with competitors when it makes sense. There might be some really cool opportunities to build on each other’s strengths, and create products or services that will benefit both of your customers.
5. What’s your budget?
Ahhh, the dreaded question. No one likes to talk about budget—even when they intend to spend it. Regardless, you should have a sense of where your priorities lie, and how much you have available to support those priorities.
If you’re thinking about a new website, consider how much you have to invest in the project, rather than asking how much it costs—because costs can vary dramatically. Conversations with prospective vendors will be much more productive if you’re on the same page. Imagine going to buy a new car with no idea what your budget is. Of course that never happens. You’d spend all day talking in circles with the salesperson (maybe more than you already do). But in our business, it seems to happen pretty regularly. So consider your budget and work with your marketing partner to find solutions tailored to your investment and goals.
Pro tip: Your overall marketing budget should be approximately 2 – 5%+ of revenue, with variance depending on whether you’re looking to maintain sales, or are in growth mode. Budgets are typically higher (as a percentage of revenue) if you’re a startup or engaged in an aggressive growth period.
6. What are the latest trends?
QR Codes. AI. VR. MAP. I’m out of acronyms. But the marketing landscape isn’t. It’s always changing, and you need to stay on top of it. What new channels and platforms are emerging? What new strategies are marketers using? Is an influencer right for your business? Would it make sense to introduce more video into your efforts? Stay up-to-date with the latest and greatest, and gravitate towards the trends that work for your business and goals.
Pro tip: Don’t jump on the latest-and-greatest simply because it exists. TikTok might not be right for your business. Or maybe it’s perfect. Be thoughtful and strategic about which trends you leverage, and ensure you have the proper resources – time and money – to make the most of your investment.
7. Choosing your media mix
Does your ideal customer spend a lot of time on Facebook? Are they frequent YouTube watchers? Does TikTok keep them up late into the night? How much time do they spend listening to podcasts? And how will you integrate content and organic social media into your media mix? Understanding how and where your customers consume media and content will help you determine how to reach them, and how to best allocate your budget.
8. Pencil in a date or two
Your goals are set, your strategy is clear, your audience is defined, and you know how you want to reach them. Now it’s time to populate your marketing calendar with reasonable deadlines, launch dates, media flights, content plans, progress check-ins, and whatever you feel will help to position your marketing efforts for success.
9. Monitor, Analyze, and Adjust
Unfortunately, most marketing efforts aren’t “set-it-and-forget-it.” The best results are achieved through regular monitoring, analysis, and proper adjustments. Take note of month-over-month data such as click-through rates, open rates, engagement data, website visits, and of course, leads and conversions – and then make adjustments to bolster underperforming segments, or take greater advantage of better performing areas. Having your finger on the pulse of relevant metrics will greatly improve your results, and be helpful for future efforts, as well.
Pro Tip: Make sure you create a Google Analytics property unique to your campaign efforts. Install the tracking code on your landing page or specific website page to gain deep insights into your audience and campaign metrics.
10. Get Workin’!
If you’ve read this far, congratulations. You’re five minutes closer to having a solid plan for 2024. And if you stopped reading, I guess maybe you’re just a few minutes closer to a solid plan. Either way, you probably don’t feel like you’ve wasted your time. Win-win! So take your newfound knowledge, start planning, and get ready to kick some a** in 2024.
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