How to Get Your Marketing on Track
One of the great things about January is that it’s the beginning of a new year. It gives us the sense of a fresh start like we had when we began a new school year with shiny unmarked notebooks and binders ready to fill with our notes and misspellings. Similarly we approach 2011 with the same gusto and anticipation.
To help you get your business on track for 2011, here are 111 ways to jumpstart January organized into categories to help you. While this is a long list, it’s a great business tool. To optimize your usage, print out the list and take the time to think through your answers. Don’t worry that the year has started! It’s important to put your 2011 plans on track! Then, set up a process to check your progress at regular intervals, say monthly, throughout the year. This way if you’re off track or events throw you a curve ball, you can make adjustments along the way.
Look back to move forward
- How well did you do in 2010 versus 2009?
- How did you perform versus your budget or plans for 2010?
- What were the big surprises for your organization in 2010?
Know your customer
- Has your customer base changed in the past year? If so how?
- Are you talking to your customers? If not, is this on your list for 2011?
- What do your customers want from your firm? What will you do to meet their needs in 2011?
- Do you know which media formats and platforms your customers use? Are all of them online?
- Do you share the love with your customers? If not, do you plan to do so?
- Do you do anything special for your best customers? Do you recognize them?
- Do you have a set of poor performing customers who aren’t profitable to serve? If so, are you unmarketing them?
- What trends do you see in the overall economic and political landscape? How will this affect your business?
- How are you doing versus your competitors? If you’re not tracking them, will you start in 2011?
- Are there new competitors on the horizon?
- What are the dominant companies doing that might be indicators of changing trends? Think of major firms like Walmart, Amazon, Facebook and Google.
- Are you talking to your peers? If not, do you plan to in 2011?
- Are your peers doing anything differently that you should consider trying in 2011?
- Are you talking to experts in your field? Do you agree with their 2011 predictions? Do you need to modify your plans?
- Are you talking to internal experts? What are the specialists within your company saying? (Note: They may not be your senior management.)
Get your 2011 vision
- What is your overall vision for your business?
- What are your goals for the coming year?
- What are your priorities for 2011? Should you change your focus?
- Are you organized to achieve your goals?
- How are you positioning yourself for 2011?
- What is your firm’s three-year plan?
- What is your company’s five-year plan? Do your one year and three year plans help you make progress towards your goals?
- How are your suppliers positioned in the market?
- Have there been any changes among your suppliers during the past year that could affect your business?
- How are your distributors positioned in the market?
- Have there been any changes in your distribution network during the past year that could affect your business?
Examine your product offering
- What products are you offering this year?
- Will new technologies and related changes have an impact on your product array?
- Have your customers’ needs changed? If so, does your product array require modification?
- Do you have any product gaps that need to be filled due to market and/or technology changes?
Expand your brand
- How will you develop or continue to expand your brand?
- Is your brand in line with the times?
- How are you tracking your brand? Does this monitoring need to be modified?
- Do you have a separate branding campaign to reach new users?
Manage sales process
- How is your sales pipeline?
- Do your sales leads continue to grow? If not, what can you do to change this?
- Are there issues with your sales conversion process?
- Are you loosing customers at specific points in the purchase process?
- Do you get repeat business from your customers? If not, why?
- Do your customers have other needs that your firm can fulfill?
- What are your major marketing strategies for 2011? Do they work to achieve your overall business goals?
- What is your marketing media mix for 2011? Does it reflect your customers’ media consumption habits?
- What is your creative strategy for 2011? Is this a major departure from 2010?
- What is your advertising strategy for 2011?
- How has your company’s story evolved in the past year?
- Is your website up-to-date? What changes are you planning to incorporate this year?
- Are you collecting customer contact information (with permission of course!)?
- Have you optimized your website for sales conversion?
- What is your email marketing strategy for 2011?
- Have you updated your search optimization strategy? Is it connected with your social media and content marketing strategies?
- Are you using every customer touch point to reach your prospects and customers?
- Have you added a mobile marketing strategy to your mix? This is particularly important for businesses with a retail or physical presence.
- Have you added a marketing strategy for reaching e-readers, iPads and other portable devices where appropriate?
- Are you leveraging your physical presence (if you have one) to merchandise your business?
- Do you have a PR strategy incorporated into your corporate communications strategy?
- Are you using offline media to expand your reach? Is it still performing effectively?
- Are you using direct mail or other forms of promotional marketing? Are they still providing sufficient return for the expense?
- What new forms of marketing are you going to incorporate into your plans?
- Are your marketing campaigns integrated across platforms?
- Are you maximizing your internal promotional channels?
- What areas of your marketing do you plan to test and how?
Schedule your promotions
- Have you set up a promotional calendar? Do you have at least one promotion per month? Does it consider all aspects of a marketing offer?
- Do you recognize your company’s birthday/anniversary?
- Do you recognize your customers’ birthdays or other significant event?
- Do you have special value offers on a regular basis?
- Do you have promotions based on customers’ lifetime or relationship with your firm?
- Do you have customer initiated communications and/or promotions?
- How do you plan to socialize? Do you have a social media marketing strategy?
- What is your Facebook strategy?
- What is your Twitter strategy? Is it more than just a broadcast channel?
- What is your blogging strategy? Do you have members of your company involved across your organization?
- Does your social media strategy target those platforms where your audience is?
- Are you planning any offline meetings or events?
- Does your social media strategy require supporting marketing? Is it incorporated into your overall marketing plans?
- Do you have corporate social media guidelines?
- Do you have dedicated social media headcount?
- What social media marketing metrics are you using to measure your progress? What is your social media ROI?
Become a publisher
- Where do you need content marketing? Think broadly in terms of marketing and corporate communications across your organization.
- Does your content marketing support the early research phase of the purchase process? Often this may not be documented, especially if it occurs on social media platforms.
- Does your content marketing support engagement phase of the purchase process? Remember this can happen across channels and involve customer service.
- Does your content marketing support the purchase including follow up communications?
- Does your content marketing provide post-purchase support? Many businesses overlook this phase. It’s important to ensuring future purchases.
- Does your content marketing support advocates/fans?
- Does senior management communicate regularly? If so, how is it perceived by the public?
- Do you provide investor-relations related content?
- Have you developed an editorial calendar? Does it include your content marketing and social media information?
Serve your customers well
- Is your customer service area engage with your marketing department to ensure that they are aware of what’s in the pipeline?
- How is your customer service performing based on user feedback?
- How does customer service perform based on internal metrics?
- Do customers use multiple platforms?
- Do you have a crisis management plan? If not, when will you develop one? If you do, how often do you update it?
Track your success
- What metrics do you plan to use to track your success against your goals?
- Are you tracking sentiment and branding impact that are more complex to assess?
- Are there additional indicators that you need to add to your dashboard?
- How is your cash flow doing? Do you know how much money you have coming in and going out?
- What status updates will you use to ensure that you’re on track towards your goals?
- Is your data secure? If not, how do you plan to fix this issue?
- Do you have sufficient technical support to achieve these goals?
- Do you need additional hardware, extra bandwidth, computers, and/or programmers?
Get staff on board
- Do you have enough staff to achieve your goals?
- Are you missing specific types of expertise? Can this support be outsourced or should you hire this talent?
- Do you communicate regularly with your staff?
- Is your staff excited about their work?
- Does each member of your staff have goals that are in line with your corporate goals?
- Do you recognize your staff?
- Are you at risk of loosing key staff members?
Give back to the community
- Do you participate in local activities and community? This is important for local retailers.
- What are you doing as a business to give back to the community? Cone Inc. Research shows customers support firms that support not-for-profit causes.
When starting on a new course, what’s important is going through all of the aspects of your plan carefully rather than rushing towards activity without a plan. Even worse is doing something just to show that you’re busy rather than supporting your main goals.
What would you add to this list? Please include your suggestions in the comments section below along with your rationale for adding it.
Here are some related reading to help you through this process:
Photo credit: Christian Haugen via Flickr