It's always a good idea to plan ahead. It works for the little things like shopping lists, meetings and appointments, and it works for the bigger things like business goals and marketing strategies. By setting time aside to work on your sales and marketing goals and plans now, you'll be confident that you'll hit them in 2017 and beyond.
Let's take a look at some helpful tips around the process of creating your marketing strategy for 2017.
1. Set your goals and make them S.M.A.R.T
Given that any strategy, even a marketing one, is essentially a plan or approach to achieve a wanted outcome, you'd be forgiven for thinking that setting goals for the strategy is a bit like planning for the planning. However, the best strategies sometimes involve visualising the best end result(s) and working backwards to build your plan of action.
When it comes to your sales and marketing, it's best to start with a set of goals and make them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely (we have a great guide to planning marketing goals that are S.M.A.R.T).
A great goal might look like this:
We want to increase website traffic by 500 visits a month from 1000-1500 visits by April 2017
2. Research, research, research
Once you have a set of goals in place, the next step is to dig into the details of how to reach them.
To illustrate the point, let's stick with the example of increasing visits to your website. You might need to spend some time researching the following areas:
- Digging into Google Analytics to identify your most popular pages or articles
- Interviewing existing clients to gain feedback on your site
- Finding new content ideas or popular content topics through Google Trends
- Reading information on search engine optimisation techniques
- Explore a new social media angle that will resonate with your audience
Goals are great, but they're a standard to measure against. The hard work comes in finding the ways and means to reach your goals and a solid set of research is where this happens.
3. Map out your marketing game plan
So, we've got our goals, we've done the research. Now it comes to the magic, the actual strategy. This one's not so tough because we've done the hard work already. There's no right and wrong way to create a marketing plan, but it's best to start small and simple and build it out from there.
Working with the same imaginary goal as before, increasing website traffic, following on from the research we carried out to generate ideas and means to hit the goal, a simple strategy might look like this:
- Google Trends suggested that a particular topic in our business industry is on the rise. We want to get involved now before the content available becomes saturated. To help gain ground in this area we're going to:
- Start writing blog articles 4 times a month around the topic(s)
- Optimise the blog articles for search using a proven SEO check-list
- Use LinkedIn extensively to promote our content as this social media platform has shown to resonate well with our target audience
- Track the effectiveness of our content and promotional efforts using Google Analytics
Of course, this is quite simple so far, but it highlights the main points of the marketing game plan, what you're going to do, and how it will impact your marketing results at the other end.
From here, take each step and flesh it out with greater detail where necessary to form a more comprehensive strategy. So, for the 'start writing blog articles 4 times a month' step, you'd look to generate blog topic ideas and titles x-months in advance and create a content calendar. The content calendar will get your team on the same page with timescales and give accountability and structure to the content creators as they'll know exactly what content is due and when.
Here are a couple of great reference articles to get you started, if you're stuck or need a kick-start:
- Developing a content marketing plan, by the Content Marketing Institute
- 5 steps to create a marketing plan, by Entrepreneur.com
4. Get some help
Putting a solid marketing strategy in place sooner rather than later will mean you're more likely to achieve your sales and marketing goals, and can refer back to the plan should things stray off course.
However, carrying out the marketing activities is usually where people fall down, but that's more commonly because they don't have a firm marketing plan to work against. This means they don't see the results they want and get frustrated or even, give it up as a bad job.
Researching and creating a marketing strategy, however, is a daunting task if you've never made one, and even if you have, it might be worth a fresh set of eyes to generate new ideas and ways of working using proven methods and activities.
Reach out to a marketing agency or consultant who can give you some pointers, or create a comprehensive marketing strategy for 2017 will ensure you hit your goals and grow your business.
Introducing CreatedRed Media's Inbound Marketing Blueprint
Here at CreatedRed Media, we've been busy preparing something special, our Inbound Marketing Blueprint.
What's an Inbound Marketing Blueprint and how can it help?
When we start working with companies as part of our retained inbound marketing services, one of the first steps is to put together a marketing blueprint for them. This blueprint, or marketing strategy, outlines their market background, the opportunities available to start generating leads, and the activities we will carry out to leverage those opportunities.
However, some companies aren't ready for a fully-managed retained service. Others may have an existing marketing department in place but want to switch to an inbound way of marketing.
Either way, our inbound marketing blueprint is a great choice. It takes care of all the research and strategy elements that form the basis of a solid inbound campaign and delivers a simple plan of action that maps out what to do and why it's important.
What's included in an inbound marketing blueprint?
Each of our inbound marketing blueprints is a 40+ page document designed to give you a thorough analysis of your market, the marketing opportunities available to you, as well as containing a step-by-step guide to the necessary actions needed to implement a winning inbound marketing campaign.
Here are some of the topics covered:
- Detailed project background
- Inbound methodology explanation
- Buyer persona development
- Keyword research and SEO recommendations
- Blog topic recommendations
- Content trend analysis
- Premium content suggestions
- Content calendar
- Sales funnel targeting (top of funnel / middle of funnel / bottom of funnel)
- Lead nurturing sequences
- Website and marketing recommendations
If you'd like to know more and talk to us about our Inbound Marketing Blueprint then let us know and we'll start a conversation.
Start planning now for a fruitful 2017
You can never start planning too early when it comes to your business, especially your sales and marketing targets. Think about what you want to achieve, what you need to do to make that happen, then write it all down and carry it out.