By Sadie Stresky (Brand Strategist)
This post was originally published in the Pittsburgh North Regional Chamber September 2018 Newsletter.
It’s hard to believe the holiday season will be here in a few short months. While that may signal relaxation and time off work for some, business owners know that the end of the year is a critical time for planning out the year ahead, especially regarding the company’s advertising budget. Whether your fiscal year begins in January or July, here are some of 321Blink’s recommendations for creating an effective year-end marketing strategy for 2019 and beyond.
THE BIG PICTURE
As you wrap up your 2018 marketing strategy and plan for next year, consider your company’s “big picture” for the future. Identify the major business objectives you hope to accomplish, such as launching a product, entering a new market, or simply gaining more brand awareness. Once those goals and the deadlines for achieving them are established, work backwards from important milestones to start developing a marketing plan.
An example of how working backwards can be done effectively is the way one of our senior living clients handled promoting a brand new property last fall. Once they made the decision to break ground on a retirement living community, we worked with them nearly two years ahead of the grand opening to create a robust digital marketing strategy. It looked a bit like this:
The first phase focused on getting the target audience to the project’s website to learn more, see construction updates, and sign up for a VIP mailing list and early bird discounts.
As time got closer to the completion of the building, we changed the messaging to encourage interested parties to schedule a tour and attend on-site information sessions.
Once the building was ready for residents to move in, we updated the messaging yet again to promote the events in celebration of the grand opening and to keep people engaged.
When making your own strategy, remember to ask: what are your goals, how do you plan to achieve them, and what do you need to do to ensure your customers know about them?
ASSESS YOUR ASSETS
It has been said that “those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” and the same can be said for your marketing strategy. It’s important to take stock of every marketing objective your company has done in the past 1-3 years and try the following:
1. Identify the tactics that worked especially well and the ones that failed to give a return on your investment.
2. Consider new ways to reach your audience. Get to know your demographic and meet the customers where they spend the most time, such as on specific social media platforms.
3. Take it a step further by researching what your competitors and similar companies in other parts of the country are doing.
Year-end planning is also a great time to review the state of your company’s website to ensure that it functions as it should. If your site is not mobile responsive, has a number of SEO errors, or is generally difficult to navigate for your customers, it’s time to hire a web developer to fix your website or build a new one.
BUDGET AND CONTENT CREATION
Of course, your budget plays a major factor in what your strategy will look like. Be sure to account for the various expenses required to execute your marketing. If your company does marketing in-house, things like subscriptions to Adobe Creative Cloud, stock photo licenses, camera/computer equipment, and marketing automation software may need to be budgeted for – maybe even additional personnel to handle the content creation and execution.
Another alternative is to hire an advertising agency to handle some or all of the marketing for you. In addition to having a budget in mind, you will need to plan ahead to create a realistic timeline and identify your top priorities. Agencies and vendors act as an extension of your team to create a marketing strategy that’s authentic to your brand.
By having clearly defined marketing objectives and an idea of what your needs and budget will be, your company will be positioned for a successful new year.