Before the holidays. Before the phones slow down. Before the New Year’s ball drops. Take a minute away from the immediate business emergencies and take a quick audit of your 2016 marketing. Understanding what you accomplished this year will help you set measurable business goals for next year, and identify the marketing activities you’ll need to work on to achieve them.
Where Are You Today?
Setting future goals begins with a clear understanding of where your business is now. Beging by reviewing the results of your 2016 marketing efforts.
- What marketing projects did you do? Ads, promotions, social media, online advertising?
- What are the results?This is most effective if you have hard numbers. Rather than relying on vague marketing metrics like "increased exposure" and "brand awareness," use measurable benchmarks, like:
- Number of sales
- Number of website visitors
- Number of calls/inquiries
- Number of fans on Facebook
Check data from Google Analytics to measure traffic and click through rates to your website landing pages and tack the results month over month. It becomes a lot more difficult if all you have are testimonials from customers who tell you they saw your ad.
Once you review this information, what does the data tell you? Can you identify any surprises, such as client demographics that you didn’t expect or target? Campaigns that performed exceptionally well, or poorly? Clients who have disappeared from view? What demographics, or better yet, which contacts are responding to what ads, what marketing tactics and how?
What can you still do this year?
Is December a throw-away month because everyone is busy or on vacation? Or is it an opportunity to finish the year with a bang? What can you do yet this year to prospect new customers, or reach out to existing clients to reinforce your relationship?
December is the perfect month to reinforce relationships. Professional services businesses should consider their client gift and the company’s holiday card. Retailers can think about special price offerings, or small gift items that don’t break the bank. Every company should send out a holiday card – print it, email it, post it, or broadcast it. Find some way to say thank you for your business in 2016.
What can you do in December to reach out to new clients when your annual marketing budget is running on fumes? Talk to your team and get creative.
- Send targeted email campaigns to key prospects.
- Post on social media.
- Write content for your website that will attract website visitors.
- Target 10-20 key people/companies and write a personal letter.
- Make personal phone calls to clients that have gone dark. Thank them for their previous business and have a frank discussion about their current needs or find out why the relationship strayed.
Start your 2017 marketing plan, based on what you learned from 2016
- Do a quick materials audit – are your business cards, brochures and other sales materials up-to-date? What does your website look like – does it have outdated information? Tweak web page titles and descriptions to include targeted search keywords to help improve search engine rankings. What needs to go on the to-do list for 2017?
- Identify what marketing efforts worked well, or not so well, this past year. This will help determine where to spend more of your marketing budget, or stop altogether. Use software like Google Analytics or HubSpot to measure data like website traffic and click-through rates specifically to your web pages that generate phone calls or inbound marketing leads.
- What is changing in your organization or industry or environment and how will you respond? These topics make great blog articles that set up your company as an industry expert, show up in search results and attract website visitors.
- Engage those “surprise” contacts you may have identified in your marketing audit. Create specialized content specifically for these qualified leads.
- Set marketing benchmarks for next year. The goal of nearly every business is to increase revenue from the previous year, so think about your marketing efforts in terms of how each marketing campaign; email, blog, social post, and other tactics contribute to your business growth.