Did you notice the Halloween decorations go up in late August? And Christmas décor will be on the shelves right after. It seems like retailers are always a few seasons ahead of the rest of us — but with good reason. Advance planning makes it easier to launch campaigns at the right time to hit the right targets.
This approach applies to businesses beyond retail — which means that even as you just start to enjoy fall, it’s time to start thinking about January. Fall is the time that you and your team need to put together your 2019 marketing plan.
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So how can you plan now for 2019? Below, we offer some guidance on how to kick off a planning session for your marketing in the next year. (And if you’d like some more guidance, you can call ALINE to do this with you).
How to Plan Now for Next Year’s Marketing
First, review your data. You can’t make decisions about the future without knowing what worked (and didn’t) in the past. Take the time to pull your year-to-date analytics about how your website and any ad campaigns worked. Here are some ways that past data can influence your next marketing plan:
- Timing. What month of the year did your website visitors peak? Do you know why? Capitalize on the time that most people interact with your site and schedule blogs, promotions or campaigns directly to target that time.
- Campaign performance. You can use tracking to see how some campaigns led more visitors to your site…and how others failed to do so. What topics, posts or promotions were most effective? Instead of reinventing the wheel, create additional campaigns related to these successful ones to try to repeat past successes.
- Keyword usage. Google can tell you the keywords and phrases that users most often search to find your site. Be sure to list these keywords and integrate them into new campaign copy. And if you notice keywords that aren’t routing to your site that you think should, make a concerted effort to add these words to new copy.
For more details on where to find this data and what it means, check out ALINE’s blog on data analytics.
Set goals and objectives, then form campaigns.
Any good path has to have a defined finish line. What do you want to achieve in 2019? Start with the big goals (e.g., increased sales, industry recognition, larger social media presence), but then turn these into trackable objectives (e.g., increase sales by 15%, apply for two awards, increase followers by 25%). Now is the ideal time to dream up the big goals with your team, and then take the time to turn them into an actionable plan.
Once you know what you’re aiming for, you can drill down each objective into campaigns – the projects that will help you reach that objective. For example, if your objective is “increase by 15% the visitors who click from Facebook to our website,” then a related campaign would be Facebook ads that require an action on the website (such as “click to redeem offer”).
Each goal on your list should have at least one related objective, and each objective should have at least one associated campaign to help you reach it.
Create a calendar.
One key step of achieving those goals is to put them on paper in a timeline or calendar. Taking the time to make a 2019 Marketing Calendar will help the year’s projects run smoother and better ensure they’re on schedule. Mark all major campaigns you plan to run, including not just the launch date, but key dates before then (when do materials need to hit the mailhouse or the printer? When should your annual sale be announced?). To make plans even more concrete, assign the team member responsible for meeting each deadline.
List resources needed.
Now that you know what you want and when you want it, figure out what you need to get to make it happen. The resources you need to carry out a marketing plan may all be in-house, or you may realize that some of your plans require outside help (such as designers, advertising agencies or web developers). If you can figure out now the resources you need, you’ll leave yourself enough time to strategically source and purchase those resources.
If your list of resources includes bringing in some professional help, feel free to call up ALINE. We can help you write out all the aspects of a sound marketing plan, from identifying goals and objectives to outlining specific social media campaigns. But whether you lead the effort yourself or call in the pros, remember to take the time now to plan for next year. Fortune favors the well prepared.