It’s that time of year when many small business owners begin creating their marketing plan for the coming year. This is the perfect time to conduct a marketing review to determine which marketing activities stay, which should be eliminated and which ones need a bit of tweaking.
To conduct a simple marketing review, answer the following questions. Then use the answers as input to your marketing plan.
1. Did you achieve your goals?
The first place to start is with your marketing goals. Did you achieve them and if not, why? Were they unachievable or not really relevant to what you were trying to accomplish with your business? Were your goals S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and timely?
Most likely the goals you did not accomplish were not aligned with the vision you have set for your business. Look at your goals and determine which ones get you closer to your vision and which ones should just go away. Setting goals that help you get where you want to go will make those goals much more important to you and therefore, more likely to be accomplished.
2. Did your target market evolve?
As your business grows and matures, your ideal client will naturally evolve. Is your target market a better, more lucrative set of prospects for your products and services? Do you offer something unique that appeals to a more focused audience?
As you get a clearer perspective on your business, you begin to attract an audience that values what you have to offer. Not only do you thrive working with this client, these clients truly benefit from working with you.
Note that changes to your target market may require you to adjust your messages, content, service offerings and marketing activities. Even if your target audience hasn’t changed, the next step is to review these components to be sure they are working for you.
3. Do your messages get noticed by your intended target?
Getting noticed in a crowded market is difficult. How do you create a message that cuts through the media clutter and captures the attention of your target audience so when they get to your website, they think “this person really understands what I need”?
Customers want solutions to their problems. Your core message needs to demonstrate how you solve their biggest challenge and why they should trust you and choose your business over the competition. Talk about the experiences your ideal customers will have because of your products and services and how they will benefit from working with you.
4. Do your products and services appeal to your target market?
Pricing and packaging your products and services correctly for your target audience is one of the more powerful marketing activities that you can do. Are your products and services created to help your ideal client overcome some critical need? Are your services packaged such that they highlight your unique skills aimed at your ideal client? Are they priced to fit within their budget while maximizing your revenue?
Value packaging your services to align with their needs reduces their perceived risk of working with you and makes their purchase decision much easier.
5. Is your brand consistent across all channels?
Your brand is everything you do and say, not just the visual image your business projects. Do you project the same image consistently across all of your web properties? Does your website accurately reflect who you work with and what you offer? Is what you say on your social profiles consistent with what is on your website?
If your marketing tools are inconsistent, you confuse your prospects which reflects poorly on your brand. It is important that your brand be consistent across all of your web properties so that no matter where someone finds your business, they are left with a compelling, lasting impression.
6. What marketing activities worked and what didn’t?
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results – Albert Einstein
Tracking your results helps you understand how each marketing activity is contributing to your success so you can make informed decisions about whether to continue with what you are doing or try something else. For each marketing activity, answer the following questions:
- Does the activity help your business achieve its marketing goals?
- Has the activity resulted in new leads, brand visibility or sales?
- How much did the campaign cost in terms of dollars or resources?
- Was the return on your investment worth the effort?
If a marketing activity isn’t helping your business achieve its goals, generate new leads, awareness and sales and contributed at least two times the investment in revenue, then you should discontinue that effort and move your resources onto something else that does contribute to the bottom line.
7. Where should you invest?
Now that you have this information, adjust your marketing plan accordingly. Keep doing what has worked and reassign your resources (money or time) to new activities that may produce better results. You might also be able to trim your marketing budget without hurting your revenue, spend some more time blogging and building relationships on social networks or finally invest in search engine marketing to drive visitors to your website.
Do you plan to conduct a marketing review for your company?
Debra Murphy is a marketing coach and consultant who empowers small business owners to take control of their marketing for better results. Experienced across all traditional marketing channels, Debra specializes in inbound marketing, a combination of search, social media and content marketing, to help small businesses effectively utilize this new media to gain visibility and generate inbound leads. Debra regularly writes about small business marketing on her Masterful Marketing blog and contributes to thought-leading resources like Business2Community and Social Media Today.