5 Simple Steps to Kickstart Your Marketing Strategy in 2019

The New Year is upon us, and with it the usual onslaught of resolutions largely aimed at getting us to make positive changes to improve our health and wellness. But studies like those conducted recently by Smart Insights show that when it comes to our businesses, over half of the companies polled were not capitalizing on one of the most essential elements of business health: a marketing plan.

Why is a marketing plan so essential? While your business plan builds your business, your marketing plan is the approach and strategies you have in place to let customers know you’re here, and that your brand can have a meaningful role in their lives.

In short, your marketing plan is what gets you sales, and without one your business’ attempts to gain brand recognition and loyalty will most likely be lacking in direction, efficacy, consistency, and measurability.

So how do you kickstart 2019 with a marketing plan, even if you haven’t had one before? These five simple steps will help:

1. Understand your starting point. It’s difficult to map out a path forward unless you know where you are now. Do a deep dive into your 2018 performance, analyzing key elements like your product offerings, market trends, where you landed with your sales in 2018 compared to your projections and goals, and what your strengths and weaknesses were in achieving profitability. Round out your analysis with an evaluation of your competition. Taking the time to get to know their brand, their offerings, and their strategies can pay off in greater insights into the market and your customer base, as well as help you focus on what differentiates your brand from others on the market.

2. Understand your customer. Modern marketing is all about building relationships, so a thorough understanding of your target audience is vital to your business’ marketing strategy. Start with demographics like your average customer’s age range, income level, geographic location, education level, and gender, but don’t stop there. Dig deeper into the lifestyle of your customers: what motivates them? What are their concerns or pain points? What problem or need do they have that your product or offering solves? When you know how your customer lives, what they value, and what they need, you will better be able to present your products in a relatable context and compelling manner.

3. Understand your goals. Whether you want to increase your profit or sales margin, grow your email list, or up your visibility with a higher ranking on Google, lay your goals out in clear terms with deadlines and a method for measuring results. The time-honored acronym of S.M.A.R.T. goals is useful here; keep your goals specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based.

4. Understand your next steps. Now it’s time to plan the action steps you will take to accomplish your goals. When developing your action steps, take into account the three types of prospects that exist and the different channels you can use to reach them:

      • Cold prospects are members of your target audience who don’t know about your brand or products yet; the objective is to increase their awareness. To reach them you can use channels like social media marketing, print advertising, direct mail, trade shows, SEO, your website, and video advertisements.
      • Warm prospects are people who have heard of you and may have some familiarity with your brand, but are not yet customers; the objective here is to increase their desire to connect with and buy from you. To reach them you can use channels like email campaigns (remember to get permission before putting anyone on your list), newsletters, a robust calendar of events, and regular blog posts.
      • Hot prospects are people who are familiar with you, who may have purchased in the past, and who are inclined to purchase again; the objective here is to inspire them to action. To reach hot prospects you can use more direct and personal channels like phone calls, in-person meetings, and email.

5. Understand your money. Set a clear budget for your marketing plan based on a prioritized list of strategies that allocates resources where they will have the most impact.

By implementing these five steps, you’ll create a marketing plan that will help you develop and achieve your goals—and ensure that when the next New Year comes around, you’ll have even more to celebrate.

Illustrated Designs, Inc. has been at the forefront of the marketing industry for 30+ years. From design to execution, their innovative design team develops catalogs, event décor, printed materials, 3-D displays, and more.

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