As 2018 comes to a close, now is the time to start thinking about your marketing plan for the coming year. What’s been working well? What hasn’t? What new strategies will you try for 2019?
Of course, we’re happy to help you come up with a comprehensive marketing plan for your business, but if you’d like some advice to do it yourself, follow this convenient guide.
How to Create Your 2019 Marketing Plan
As I explained in this blog post, Why and How to Include Content Marketing in Your Strategy:
Step 1: Review 2018
Before you can figure out where you’re going, take a look at where you are. What were your goals from this last year? Did you achieve them? Also, think about the marketing strategies you used this past year. How did they work out?
Step 2: Review Your Target Audience
Did you include defining your target as part of your content marketing strategy? Is your target consumer clearly outlined? Make sure it is so you know who you’re trying to reach.
Step 3: Establish New Goals
After you’ve established how 2018 went, it’s time to look ahead to 2019. What goals do you want to achieve? Make sure that you set goals that are SMART:
Step 4: Brainstorm Strategies to Achieve Your Goals
This is the time you’ll come up with specific ways you’ll achieve your goals. For each goal, write down the strategies you think will get you there (see below for a few suggestions).
Step 5. Consider Your Time and Resources
Although you may have all sorts of fantastic content marketing ideas, if you don’t factor your budget into your strategy, you won’t be successful.
Step 6: Write Out Your Marketing Plan
I suggest doing this by writing each month of the year at the top of a list and then citing the strategies you plan to employ during the month underneath it. This helps you visually see how many different marketing activities you’re committing to take on each month.
Once you’ve drafted your plan, type it out month-by-month so it’s clear for you to see which activities you need to do when.
Step 7: Put It Into Action
Your marketing plan is useless if you don’t follow it. Actually write down which activities to do and when you plan to do them in your calendar or planner. Give yourself deadlines and stick to them!
Step 8: Review Your Analytics
Each month, go through your various points of data collection to take a quick look at how you’re doing. Check your Google Analytics, e-newsletter open and click-through rates, and social media data.
Also make a note to evaluate your plan toward the end of June. At that point, you can do a full review of your marketing plan to see what’s working well and what isn’t. It may be a good time to shift focus from one area that isn’t performing well to an area that is.
Common Strategies for Your Marketing Plan
It can be hard to know which strategies to use to achieve your marketing plan’s goals. Here are a few common tactics that we’ve seen work well across a wide variety of industries:
Goals it Helps: Increased website traffic, name recognition and brand awareness plus gives you authority as an expert and shows visitors why they should work with you.
The primary benefit to blogging for your business is that it can drive additional traffic to your website. By publishing quality, helpful posts at the same day and time each week, you show the search engines that your website is high quality and helpful for internet users, which can greatly increase your ranking in search results. Because the best way to write for search engines is to write quality posts, your content should already be helpful to your target consumers. Your blog can also establish you as an expert and provide a fantastic forum for customer care.
Strategy: Social Media Ads
Goals it Helps: Increased consumer presence and engagement, website traffic, name recognition and brand awareness, in addition to establishing you as an expert in your field and showing followers why they should work with you.
Advertising on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn can be a very affordable way to increase your reach across the platforms. In addition to the traditional ads you see on the side bars of these websites, sponsored posts actually show up in users’ newsfeeds as any update would. As long as you target the ad correctly, write a compelling update and using an engaging image or two, they can greatly increase your visibility to new potential followers. In fact, Facebook’s algorithm actually weights posts from advertisers, so if you’re spending money on ads, chances are your organic posts will be more visible too.
Strategy: Organic Social Media
Goals it Helps: Increased consumer engagement, website traffic, name recognition and brand awareness in addition to showing followers why they should work with you or buy from your company, and providing a convenient way for customers to communicate with your business.
Even if you don’t pay for social media advertising, maintaining a presence on the platforms your target consumers use can be extremely helpful. In addition to providing a forum for you to connect with users that are interested in your business and industry, your social channels are a fantastic opportunity to remind consumers about the services you offer, your expertise and that you care about them. They can be fantastic for increasing website traffic and SEO, as well as providing excellent and attentive customer care.
Strategy: Email marketing (or an e-newsletter)
Goals it Helps: Increased website traffic, credibility, name recognition and brand awareness, in addition to reminding contacts you already have that they should work with you.
Email marketing continues to be an important component to a successful marketing plan. Research shows:
- Email use worldwide will top 3 billion users by 2020.
- Gmail has 1 billion active users worldwide.
- 86% of consumers would like to receive promotional emails from companies they do business with at least monthly.
If you want to increase your website traffic and credibility with your consumers, as well as name recognition and brand awareness, a monthly e-newsletter can be a fantastic strategy. A brief email with helpful articles, links, etc. can be another great reminder for your target consumers to contact you and find out more about your products and services.
Strategy: Creating & Distributing Press Releases
Goals it Helps: Increased website traffic, editorial media coverage, name recognition and brand awareness.
As long as you have something newsworthy to share, press releases can be used in a few ways. If you release them on the wires, they can provide hundreds of links back to your website, increasing your search engine optimization (SEO) and your traffic. If you send them to specific media contacts, and if the news truly is important to their readers, they can write about your company and introduce your business to even more possible customers.
Strategy: Event Creation & Promotion
Goals it Helps: Increased consumer engagement, editorial media coverage, website traffic, name recognition and brand awareness.
Despite the growth of digital media, consumers crave connection. An event can be a fantastic way to interact with your customers face-to-face, and depending on the type of event you’re hosting, you might even be able to get some media coverage out of it. As you consider creating an event as a way to connect with your consumers, think about ways you can give them an unforgettable experience with your brand.
Strategy: Editorial Media Pitching
Goals it Helps: Increased name recognition, brand awareness and (sometimes) website traffic, in addition to establishing you as an expert in your field and providing a credible testimonial endorsement for your business, making consumers more likely to make a purchase.
It can be exciting to see you your business’ name in the press! In addition to providing yet another way for potential consumers to see your company, editorial media coverage is a third-party endorsement from the journalist, telling their readers, viewers and listeners why they should consider your business. This can carry a lot of weight! In addition, if the coverage runs online, the reporter will likely include a link to your website, which can make a positive difference for SEO and your website traffic.