Top 5 things to consider when creating your 2019 marketing plan

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It’s time to create your 2019 marketing strategy. This is your opportunity to not only reflect back on the previous year but also get focused on creating success for the year ahead. But before diving into which platforms and tools to use, you’ll be well-served if you dig a little deeper, and look at the bigger picture (the “why”) before you get into the nuts and bolts (the “how”).

Not sure where to start? Don’t worry, we are here to help! If you follow these 5 steps when building your 2019 marketing strategy, you’ll be better positioned to achieve your business goals and crush the competition.

#1:  Review your 2018 marketing plan

Every good plan begins with some level of introspection on how things went. This is the time to really dig into the overall performance of the year and here are the questions you should be asking yourself:

What worked; what didn’t?

How did you do in 2018? What worked well, and what has room for improvement? In other words, it’s time to think critically and see where you achieved your goals and where you might have fallen short. Being armed with the data from last year’s performances gives you the opportunity to be a smarter marketer in 2019.

What did you learn that can be used in the upcoming year?

In doing your analysis, maybe you noticed you were too heavily involved in traditional and would like to explore more options in digital advertising.

That’s great! But again, let’s dig a little deeper.

Can you determine the campaigns that had a successful Return on Investment (ROI)? Do you fully understand the path that your customers took to purchase? Once you’ve determined the strategies that were successful, plan to use and build upon them in the upcoming year.

#2:  Define your Goals & Objectives

The only way to measure the success of your marketing campaigns is to have clearly defined goals and objectives. If you are unsure of what goals you should set, try beginning with the end in mind by figuring out what success will look like for your company at the end of 2019.

What will achieving these goals mean for your business?

With your goals established, spend some time thinking through what accomplishing these goals will mean for your business. An important question to ask is “if you achieve your sales projections, will that create a growth environment at the organization?”

Maybe you need to expand your staff?  Does reaching the revenue target mean you will need to add additional resources to manage the growth you will drive in 2019?

It is crucial to ensure that your goals are well-rounded, and you have a clear path to success. As with all goals, get buy-in and make sure they’re supported by those who will be tasked to do the work.

What Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should you monitor to ensure you are tracking for success?

This is perhaps one of the most important parts of defining goals and objectives, but it can also be the most challenging. You will want to establish metrics that are indicators of business success.

Facebook “likes” might be exciting, but are they attributing toward your revenue goal?

And while you might have driven a ton of traffic to your website, if that traffic doesn’t convert into qualified prospects, what value is it really driving to your business?

Your KPIs should be mostly quantitative in nature, and relatively easy to track. It’s important that you choose a handful of meaningful KPIs per marketing tactic to use as indicators that will determine the success of your campaigns.

What will success look like at the end of 2019?

Picture yourself at the end of the year and imagine 12 months’ worth of successful marketing performance. What does that look and feel like? Now, take a look at the plans you’ve identified and the KPI’s you’ve established and ask yourself: have I planned thoroughly enough to meet my objectives by the end of the year?  

Remember it’s not uncommon after this exercise for you to go back through your goals and reassess your approach toward achieving them based off of what you want the end of your business year to look like.

#3: Take the time to create your Ideal Customer Profile (ICP)

Who is your ideal customer? Determine who your audience is by identifying your ICP. Your ICP should consist of your customers’ common challenges, demographics, lifetime value, and buying patterns.  

Your customers’ data already guides you in every aspect of your business, from your service offerings to product generation and its features. So why not look to this when creating your marketing strategy?

Develop sample messaging for each ICP

Let’s say you’ve developed 3 different ICPs. Now’s the time to develop guidelines on how you will reach each ICP. Start this exercise by asking yourself and your teams these questions:

  1. What keeps them awake at night – what do they worry about?
  2. What are the top goals of this particular ICP?
  3. Does this ICP make a decision on their own or lean on an internal “influencer” to make recommendations?
  4. What types of information does this ICP consume? Trade journals? Popular websites?
  5. What types of things are most important to this ICP, even if they don’t directly correlate to your products and services?

Determine what an average customer is worth to your company

After identifying your ideal customer, you should calculate what their lifetime value means to your business. To understand how much you should spend to acquire a new customer, you have to know how much each new customer is worth. Understanding the ROI for your marketing efforts will help set your desired Customer Acquisition Costs (CAC).

To learn more, check out this video our CEO Scott Bell created that walks you through calculating the lifetime value of a customer.

#4: What is your Brand Value Proposition?

Aside from the product or service you are selling, there should be value behind everything you do, from the beginning of the sales process and throughout the customer’s lifecycle.

Ask this question: how are we going to brand ourselves and how do we want to be perceived?  This puts your team in the customer’s mindset and helps determine the types of content and mediums deployed to ensure you reach the right person, at the right time, with the right marketing messages.

So how do you do this? Gather some key team members and work to create a Brand Value Proposition. Establish a few key ideas that define who you are as an organization, why you are different and why a consumer should choose your product or service over your competitors. This exercise will help establish a clear message that can be carried throughout various marketing channels to build your brand identity.

After establishing your brand and creating value for your customers, you’ll be able to choose the customers that reciprocate value right back to your growing business.

#5: Prioritize your efforts for the upcoming year

After identifying your ICP and establishing your brand, you’re now going to have to make some decisions about where to allocate your resources.  You will need to pick a couple of focus areas where you can really make an impact.

Implement a testing plan to ensure you’re reaching your KPIs

The best way to improve is what we refer to as “test/fail/learn”. For example, if you’re running a digital marketing campaign, you might test 2-3 different types of ads for one ICP to see which message better resonates with that target market. Testing is all about learning how to “fail forward”. Many people abandon testing their marketing efforts because it can be a little bit time-consuming. That said, this is a step you should NOT skip – there’s too much to learn from testing, and too much to correct if you happened to get it wrong out of the gate.  

Allow room for changes throughout the year

Give yourself some freedom within your strategy to make course corrections throughout the year. Leaving some flexibility permits you to pivot quickly and take advantage of new opportunities.  The good news is if you’ve already put into place the concept of “test/fail/learn”, you’ll quickly understand what new strategies work, and which ones don’t.

Tying it all together for a comprehensive 2019 marketing strategy

Once you’re finished with these steps, go back and re-review your marketing plan. Give yourself a few days after you draft your plan to give your mind time to percolate on everything you’ve outlined, and any new ideas or processes you want to implement. Then you can go in and make any last edits before launching the plan.

Remember to plan for the rule, but expect exceptions. Don’t hesitate to review and modify your marketing plan as needed.  Experiment with various strategies and test new concepts to see how they’ll resonate.

After all, if you’ve followed all of the above steps, you’ve created plenty of justification for how to successfully help your company reach its goals.  And that’s the best possible outcome for a marketer!

Bell Media is Alabama’s leading digital marketing agency, a 4x INC. 5000 Company and a Google Premier Partner. We serve local companies in competitive markets that have a need or desire to grow. Bell Media is in the business of predictable outcomes, fueling growth by driving customer acquisition and filling open capacity. We work hard to understand what success looks like to our clients, and passionately seek to achieve those results through collaboration and education.