By Erin Ollila
It's almost 2018: Time to map out next year's marketing goals and tactics. Taking a step back to consider your strategic business plan can help you get off to a strong start when the calendar turns over.
Here are some tips to help you get started:
Use Your Leftover Budget for Brand Identity Basics
When you have extra budget, it's usually smart to stock up on the must-have materials you'll need throughout the new year. Letterhead, envelopes, presentation folders, pens and promotional products are the kinds of essentials that you use to reinforce your brand identity every day. Zero in on the materials that you use the most, and bulk-order so as to take advantage of cost savings.
Having those supplies creates a solid foundation for the new year, and it also ensures that you use your leftover marketing dollars wisely. With a new year, you will have a fresh budget to work with and the physical materials in hand to help support your future efforts.
Create a Strategic Business Plan for Marketing
What are your plans for the new year? Start by looking at the big picture and narrowing your focus from there. What are the company's overriding goals? For example, will you pursue the same demographic in the new year, or branch out to reach different types of clients? Can you do more to keep your brand front and center for existing customers? Next, take a look at your current marketing efforts and decide which of them are supporting those goals and which need to be adjusted or discarded.
Research new ways to get your brand in front of the right people. That might include trying direct mail marketing, attending a different slate of conferences in the coming year, or hosting more events yourself. Build a timeline for the year ahead, giving yourself room to adjust your plans if they aren't providing the returns you want.
Refresh Marketing Materials for the New Year
Look ahead to changes in store for your company. Your materials might need to reflect a new logo or a changed list of services.
In addition, think about whether your materials really helped your marketing efforts in the past year. Did your booth get swarmed at the conferences you attended, or did most of your promotional materials sit untouched? Did your client presentations seem to impress, or were the listeners unengaged? Talk with your colleagues to diagnose any trouble spots you saw, and talk through ways to step up your game.
Regularly analyzing your marketing efforts is the best possible way to ensure they're still working. Gear up for the coming year by objectively considering where you've been and where you want to go.