By David Berry: Lost among the memes and mockery of the 2016 Presidential Election is the reminder that Q4 is finally upon us! For most businesses, this is a time of professional reflection; a look at where the business has been and - just as importantly - what that means for where the business is going. What is your marketing team doing to get ready for 2017? Well, here's a good place for them to start.
Look at What You've Done. Bonus points will be awarded if you set up benchmarks for performance at the start of 2016. If you did, then measuring success becomes a true exercise in measurement, and far less of a guessing game. Unfortunately, here's how a lot of small to mid-sized businesses go about their marketing: Let's do what we did last year, if sales didn't go down, let's do that again. Instead, use available data to identify what worked and didn't (Facebook analytics, email open rates, sales data, etc.) and make the best judgments you can.
Evaluate What the Competition Are Doing: Every business has competition, including yours. And while it would be difficult to really see what's driving their wins/losses, you can still get some insight by paying attention and doing some research. Subscribe to their emails. Follow them on social media. Google them. Find them and see what they're doing and try to get a sense of what's working and what isn't working. Blogs, podcasts, emails, social media, etc. are all things you can see for free to gain insight.
Evaluate What the World is Doing: Did you know that digital advertising spends will surpass TV this year? TV is indeed a major player, but the new money in advertising isn't going to TV; it's going to mobile (text, social), digital (display, retargeting) and social (Facebook, Pinterest, etc.). And it's definitely not going to print.
You Need a Plan to Stick To: What are the themes that you'll focus on each month in social media, email, retargeting, SEM, events, etc.? Get specific. Build out a communications calendar that lays out the themes for your communication and considers multiple touchpoints, along with increasing/decreasing frequency depending on the business's needs and priorities. Then stick with it. Marketing isn't a light switch; you can't just turn it on and expect it to work. It takes time and consistency, and that only comes with good planning. For extra help, take a look at this great article from Forbes.
Measure Your Wins/Losses and Adjust Accordingly: If you can find a way to map your monthly sales over your monthly advertising expenses and identify correlations, you may be able to identify which marketing efforts are working and when. Furthermore, if you're invested in digital marketing (social media, email marketing, display campaigns, etc.), then it's actually very easy to measure success, right down to leads and revenue. If you don't measure, you have no ground to stand on when justifying your plan, or criticizing anyone else's.
And when in doubt, hire some pros. Yes, of course business' like mine benefit from it if you do, but the reality is that you have a business to run. You shouldn't be running all of the marketing decision making at the same time. I talk a bit more about that on this video below with Arturo Arca from Pragmatique Legal. Any questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.