Many people will begin 2017 by setting a new year’s resolution – a promise to undertake an action or actions for self-improvement. Personally, it’s not something I’ve ever done, but I do set them for my business!
As people and businesses generally wind down a bit over the festive period, it’s a great time for business owners and marketing managers to reflect on the year that’s gone and think about ways to improve marketing efforts to achieve greater business growth during the year ahead.
To help focus your thinking, here are 5 things for consideration whilst enjoying a mince pie…or two!
- Hone your strategy
Before you undertake any marketing activities, you should have a clear strategy in place and know exactly what you want your efforts and budget to achieve. If you don’t set business objectives upfront, how can you assess whether your marketing efforts have been successful?
When setting your strategy, consider:
- Your business objectives
- Your brand positioning
- Who your customers are
- Suitable tactics to engage your customers in the places they hang out, with messages they want to hear
- How you’ll measure the effectiveness of your campaigns
So, the first thing to action in January is to ensure that you have a defined marketing strategy. All of the marketing you are considering should be measured against whether it will help you to achieve these business objectives.
- Evaluate your brand
A strong business relies on customers, but customers generally have quite a bit of choice when it comes to deciding where to shop, even with B2B companies. You want their choice to be based on more than just geography/convenience and price, otherwise you’ll only attract those customers on your doorstep or get trapped into being the cheapest supplier.
So, how do you make their purchasing decision about more than geography and price? Customers also choose to buy based on the beliefs and values they associate with you and your business – they choose to shop based on their connection with your brand.
Building a brand is key to finding and building loyal customers as having a strong brand helps to build trust, provides differentiation from your competition and helps to justify your pricing. Your brand is everything, and everything is your brand. By this we mean a brand is more than a logo and tagline:
- You are your brand
- Your employees are your brand
- The office atmosphere is your brand
- Your online presence – website, social media, blog posts – and marketing collateral – business cards, brochures, leaflets – portray your brand
- How you answer the phone to customers and your suppliers speaks volumes about your brand
- How your customers talk to others about you and your products/services/customer service is key to the reputation of your brand
To build a strong brand, you need to be truthful with who you are, what your company is and who you want to appeal to and ensure you effectively communicate this through every customer touchpoint.
The second thing to action is to make sure you’re clear on your brand and who it appeals to.
- Know who your customers are and where they hang out
To market a product or service successfully, you need to understand who your ideal customers are, where they hang out and what their challenges are. It’s important to realise that just because you think your service or product is great, it doesn’t mean it’s going to appeal to everyone. You need to pinpoint exactly who your target customers are so that you don’t waste your time, money and resources trying to engage people that just aren’t interested.
The third thing to action in January is to create some buyer personas – generalised representations of your ideal customers. The best personas are based on fact and insight you gather from your existing customers through interviews, surveys, feedback etc. It’s important to identify what your customers’ problems are and how your product or service helps to solve them, where they turn to for information and advice – online, magazines, exhibitions, events – so that you know the channels through which you can reach them. It’s also key to understand the kind of messages that will appeal to your customers, so that you know what to say to them via these channels to interest and engage them.
- Plan your marketing tactics, but be prepared to be agile!
Marketing tactics are very different to strategy. Your strategy should define your goal for the business and an approach for how you will achieve that goal. Tactics are the various activities you’ll undertake to deliver that strategy, always with your goal in mind.
It’s important to have a marketing plan set out for the year, which covers both strategy and tactics, to ensure that you don’t veer off track, wasting money on activities that don’t target your customers or work towards achieving your objectives.
It’s also important to recognise that planning is vital, but you also need to be aware that market and customer needs can change rapidly, so you need to be prepared to be agile in order to continue to reach your customers in the right places, at the right time, with the right message.
- Crunch the numbers
Finally, don’t underestimate the importance of data. If you’ve set measurable objectives in your strategy, you should have metrics in place in order to measure and evaluate your activities to discover what is and isn’t working for you. Tools like Google Analytics and website heatmaps provide useful insight which will allow you to modify your campaigns accordingly and ensure your precious budget is spent in the right areas.
Data might be the final consideration on this list, but measurement and evaluation should be a continual thing – don’t wait until the end of 2017 to find out what is working and what isn’t…you can waste a lot of money in 365 days if it’s not allocated to the right areas!
For more information about how we can help your business grow in the new year, check out our range of services or get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call: 07843 699 953.