Your 2019 marketing plan: 6 steps to success
In 1860, Robert O’Hara Burke and William John Wills set off from Melbourne, heading north to explore the Australian interior.
It had taken them three years to raise funds for and awareness of the expedition, during a gold rush. Neither had the faintest sense of bushcraft; their “essential supplies” included a cedar-topped table and chairs, rockets, flags and a Chinese gong. They broke down on the first day, took until midnight to reach the suburbs of Melbourne, and - to cut a long story short - their expedition was a disaster from which neither of them returned.
Burke and Wills’ story shows a spectacular failure to plan. They didn’t establish the demand, select the right people, have the remotest idea what resources they’d need along the way or any sense of the timescale they had to work in.
Marketing isn’t a matter of life and death (it’s much more serious than that) - and like exploration, marketing is nothing without a solid strategy. This article sets out the fundamentals of good marketing planning - six things to do that’ll give you a head start on 2019.
1. Start with an audit
An effective marketing strategy starts with a clear understanding of where you are. There are three stages involved:
First, review what has gone well in the past year and what hasn’t worked; look over the analytics that demonstrate Return On Investment.
Second, establish where your brand is currently positioned. Where do you sit against your competitors? What are the market conditions?
Third, conduct a SWOT analysis: what are your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats? What you can say about your product or service, and what expertise do you have access to in-house?
Reflection is important and you should allow a good amount of time for this step. It’s tempting to rush straight into planning practical activities, but without an idea of what needs doing and what’s likely to work, that activity may not accomplish anything useful.
2. Be specific about what you want to achieve
Think about the next year. What are your goals? Be specific about the financial targets you want to hit, or the awards you want to win, or the market you want to enter: but don’t neglect yourself. What do you want from the business personally?
The more concrete the goals, the easier it will be to set a plan to achieve them.
3. Make sure your marketing plan links to your business plan
Your marketing should enable you to hit your business objectives, so make sure they’re linked - not created and used in isolation. Cooperation between teams, at the C-level and all the way down, is the key to success here. If you have separate teams with separate plans, nothing will work.
4. Set the right marketing budget
There’s a lot to assigning a marketing budget, but the simple method is “budget for the costs of the activities that will drive what you want to achieve”.
How much should you spend on marketing? The golden figure, for B2B marketing, is 4-8% of your business’ income. B2C marketing often demands more - closer to 15% to launch a product or service, up to 20-25% during major branding initiatives. Work out your marketing cost as a percentage of sales as a starting point, and use the costs associated with your goals to confirm the final figure.
5. Make sure sales and marketing are aligned
If you have discrete sales and marketing teams, you also need a process to keep sales and marketing aligned. Get them into a joint meeting, brief them on your business goals, and document the process you want them to follow. If you want people singing from the same hymn sheet, you need to actually provide the sheet.
6. Plan to monitor progress on a frequent basis
Setting metrics and monitoring them is the key to ensuring marketing success. You have your goals; those set your lead metrics, which you’ll track to see how you’re progressing.
Which metrics should you be measuring? There are two marketing metrics you need to measure, no matter what strategic goals you’re working toward. Marketing as a percentage of sales sets your budget and tracks your costs. Cost per acquisition breaks that marketing spend down and shows how much each customer is worth, and what you had to spend to get them.
Digital analytics often lead businesses astray. Often, digital metrics show that activity is taking place, but confirm nothing about performance. The metrics you need to focus on are the ones directly tied to goals: the rest is just puff.
The bottom line, of course, is marketing ROI. If your marketing isn’t delivering return on investment, it’s a waste of time and money.
Setting a solid plan is vital to future success. Make sure the fundamentals are covered and give your marketing planning the time it deserves. Don’t wander off into the desert hoping you’ll find a way through: make a plan, bring what you need, and put the right people in charge.
To establish where your business is and where it needs to be, and start preparing your marketing strategy for 2019, take a Marketing 360 healthcheck today.