Here are five steps to guarantee your success:
1.) Prioritize Your Budget
The world of marketing is constantly changing. New trends pop up on a daily basis and consumers respond strongly to the latest techniques. In order for your business to maintain its standing in its niche, you need to keep up with the times. You don’t want your efforts or your money to be wasted on outdated materials. What may have worked two years ago could become a potential hinderance to you now. Every time a prospective client sees something tacky, misleading or incorrect coming from your business, your reputation is at stake.
Not Budgeting for Marketing Communications is a Mistake
One of the biggest mistakes businesses make is not budgeting for marketing communications. If you want to see growth, then you need to allocate at least 10% of revenue for your 2017 budget. It could cost more money in the future to fix problems that could have been easily avoided Not only does setting a marketing budget give you stability for the year, but it also helps with in-house marketing employees do their jobs better and potential agency partnerships.
What happens if you don’t budget for marketing in 2017? It’s going to be a rough year. It’s difficult to string together explosive growth campaigns from a next-to-nothing budget. Yes, it can be done, but we primarily reserve saying that for challenger startup brands. If you’re an organization raking in regular revenue, there’s no excuse not to budget for marketing communications.
2.) Conduct An Asset Inventory Evaluation
Take inventory of all of your marketing communication assets. I mean all of them.
This consists of brochures, one-pagers, emails, websites and so on. As you go through the evaluation, look at each asset and keep in mind that you should be redesigning anything that is outdated.
Rid the business of dead weight by eliminating materials that are no longer of use. You don’t want to be weighed down by adding tasks to the procrastination list.
Does anything need redesigned or updated? Is there something that isn’t of use anymore? Tackle it as soon as possible. If you can, try to have it done by early 2017. The sooner you can cross a task off of your list, the better.
You will need the time to focus on more important things—like where to have your monthly lunches. Thai anyone?
3.) Consider Conducting a Communications Audit
Many problems arise when an organization is out of touch with how they’re perceived. Just because you’re putting out a message doesn’t mean people are receiving it.
Conduct a simple communications audit by evaluating how you’d like to be perceived. Assess the way your audience currently views you. If there’s a disconnect between the two, it’s time to brainstorm a campaign of solutions to align those two sides.
It’s important to perform an audit—especially if you sense confusion and miscommunication. You are in control of the messages that are emitted from your business.
You don’t want to feel like your efforts are being wasted by an audience that doesn’t quite understand you. Money and time are precious, which is why it’s crucial to prevent problems from arising.
4.) If You Need Help, Start Seeking An Agency Right Away (like … right now!)
When a business has a limited amount of resources with marketing, it can be difficult to see desired results. Sometimes employees can only do so much in terms of creativity and energy. If you’re not achieving your goals, then it may be time to find an agency that will help smooth the wrinkles in your plan.
An agency can add assistance to your marketing department or fill in the gap for a department you may not have. Either way, agencies have the knowledge and skill-sets to achieve your business objectives. The right agency partner can greatly elevate your success.
Narrow in on your options by doing an audit of your current efforts. Is your team overwhelmed and under-equipped? Are there projects your team doesn’t have the creativity, energy or skill-set for (material design, rebranding, website design/development)? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you may need some assistance.
Should an agency be in the plans, you should start looking right away. Agencies are preparing their calendars for 2017. If you wait too long it may be hard to get responsive, immediate services. You don’t want to be in the position where you are forced to settle on a partner who’s not quite right because you procrastinated. Give yourself enough time to choose and select the right agency for your business.
5.) Set Business Objectives
Metrics, impressions, click-through-rates … Oh my! Marketing communications jargon can be overwhelming.
You know what though? It really means nothing if you aren’t setting and measuring business objectives. Going into 2017, set strict business objectives that shape your campaign efforts and your evaluation of endeavors—whether entirely in-house or through an agency.
Setting business objectives is simple. They should be SMART:
For your business, it’s most helpful to measure by customer acquisition or revenue. We wouldn’t recommend getting more specific than month-by-month goal setting.
- For example: we want to acquire 200 customers per month or we want to generate $20,000 per month.
By setting specific objectives, you know exactly what you’re trying to accomplish. You also know how intense your focus has to be and how much work it will take to reach your goals. This will make your marketing communications efforts more targeted and meaningful.
Build on This Foundation
The above five points are a solid foundation to build your marketing communications efforts. If you can leverage those elements intentionally, you’ll be on your way to explosive growth in 2017.