A new year’s resolution is not just for personal ventures; it can (and should) involve your business goals too. We always start the year off by reviewing our clients (and our own) marketing plans and looking for opportunities for improvement for the year ahead.
The start of the year is when predictions are set and trends are established – plus, our minds are fresh. So it’s the perfect time to do some self-reflection and start investing in your new strategies, reach out to new markets or even look into rebranding if that’s something you’ve been considering.
It’s also a great time to attract new customers looking to change their buying habits in the new year. Since it tends to be quieter, there’s plenty of opportunity to fire up social media, email marketing, or targeted advertising and encourage customers to think about their new year plans and strategies and how you can help them.
The possibilities really are endless. But where to start? Here’s a quick 4-step guide to help you start the new year off on the right foot.
1. Revisit what has and what hasn’t worked
The best place to start is with what you already have access to – your own data. First, revisit your past campaigns, tactics, and performances from the last 12 months. Then, set aside time to collect, review and dissect the data.
You will need to be methodical in your changes, so asking yourself some questions when doing your data review is important to help you set clear goals and priorities. This way, you can look at all your data objectively as you start moving towards making changes.
Some questions to ask yourself could be:
- Are our goals the same as last year?
- Did our past performance meet our expectations?
- What’s different about our performance compared to the year prior?
- Are you happy with these outcomes?
If you answer ‘no’ to any of these questions, it might be best to investigate changing your tactics completely.
You will then need to ask yourself some qualifying follow-up questions to help you better understand your future tactics and strategy. Some questions to ask are:
- Why have our tactics yet to work?
- Did the things you wanted to do help with your position in the market? Did it get your brand in front of the market, or was it a failure?
- Did it fail because it was a bad idea, or did you point a good idea in the wrong direction?
Repeat these questions throughout your marketing strategy to help form a clearer picture. Really delve deep into the who, what, why and how. In addition, make sure to talk to your departments and colleagues for greater insight. Once you clarify your past goals, strategies, tactics and markets, you’ll have a better foundation for your marketing plans.
2. Consider times of the year that are important for your prospects
Important dates can change your market significantly. No two calendars are the same – there will be variations throughout industries, countries, religions, languages and cultures. It’s important to know your audience and be able to map out your year according to your market.
For example, in Australia, our Q4 is around the end of the financial year, which falls in June/July. In the US, the calendar year defines its market quarters by seasons, so Q4 falls around the end of December, coinciding with the end-of-year and the holidays and celebrations that come with it.
There are times during the year that aren’t great for marketing. These times usually match up with specific holidays such as Christmas and New Year, the end of the financial year or any other major holiday period in your calendar.
You need to identify each important calendar period throughout your market and be able to best prepare for these dates. Your marketing calendar will also help you track milestones and note results so you have a comprehensive picture for comparison at the end of the year.
3. Make the most of marketing off-season
Once you’ve noted your busy periods, you can start planning how to use your time in your off-season. Some off-season strategies include:
- Growing your database: touch base with those prospects that leaked in the past and see if they’re ready to re-engage. Connect with new prospects – consider outbound emails or working on your social media presence to expand your network.
- Customer reviews: research competitors and what’s been working for them and take notes. Then, survey past clients and prospects, look at any weaknesses, and think about how you can solve them.
- Creating content: ensure you’re still writing blogs, sending nurture emails, and posting on social media. Make sure to look into other avenues of content creation you may have initially overlooked and start filling up your content bank so you have a constant pool of value to tap into.
- Getting ready for peak season: if you know that your business will flourish around a particular quarter or you will be hosting an event or running a sale, ensure you’re keeping the hype up for these periods. So, when you get slammed, you can focus on selling and customer service rather than marketing or trying to push any sales.
- Ticking off your to-do list: get on top of those mundane tasks that always get pushed to the bottom of the pile. Clean out your database, rehash content, boost your social media or revamp your website. Don’t let these tactics fall by the wayside – every single part of your plan is important.
4. Consider changes in the market or in how businesses operate
When starting your business, you conduct market research to prepare you for all the ups and downs. But it’s important to remember that markets are always changing. To keep yourself from stagnating, you must always be up to date with market trends.
A lot can change in a year. Now’s the time to take a look at your markets and competitors, see what is working for them, see the avenues they are looking into, and decide if that would benefit your company.
See if any new markets have opened up to you. Or if there are any new problems your clients are facing that you can’t yet solve. Always look at shifts in the market and see where there are easy opportunities for you to take advantage of changes or update your tactics (without overwhelming your team).
Start planning your strategy now
The start of the year is a great time to implement new marketing avenues and tactics and to experiment. Of course, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, but a review of the past year and a plan for the next ensures you stay on top of your marketing strategies and avoid any surprises or sudden u-turns.
Following the four steps outlined above will provide numerous benefits for the year ahead, allowing you to:
- Set a new marketing plan in motion;
- understand your biggest priorities and changes; and (most importantly)
- determine what will work best for you and your business.
While the new year tends to be a quieter time for some, it’s not true for all businesses – especially those without a large or dedicated marketing team. If you need help reviewing and planning marketing strategies for the year ahead, align.me can help.
We are experts in B2B marketing and strategy, and we’re currently helping over 40 businesses plan, improve and execute their 2023 marketing plans. If you’d like more guidance or assistance with your marketing strategies, get in touch.
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