As the end of the year approaches, now is a good time to reflect on this crazy year and look ahead to next year. That includes your marketing plan! While this year was a bit unusual, you should still be able to glean some information on which marketing tactics worked for you, which tactics didn’t, and look at possible new tactics to try next year. Like it or not, it’s time to update your small business marketing strategy. Below are a few easy steps to undertake this endeavor. Let’s get going!

Before you change anything, see what’s changed

business auditSmall businesses are dynamic. Target audiences can change, new products or services get added. New markets are opened. Before you look at what you need to update in your marketing strategy, make sure you’ll be marketing the same company you were marketing all year this year. A quick business audit can be beneficial. Have any of these changed for your company:

  • New products or services? Any products or services that you no longer offer?
  • Is your target audience the same?
  • Is your ideal client the same?
  • Has your competition changed drastically?
  • Did you make any significant pricing model changes?
  • Any branding updates?

Significant changes to any of the above can change your marketing approach, so be sure you’re still clear on all of these. If you have experienced change, be sure to thread that into your marketing strategy when you revise it. Keep reading to see how.

Review your marketing efforts for the year

Take a moment now and review all the different marketing efforts you did over the year, putting them in buckets to take a deeper dive in a moment. These buckets could be:

  • Social media
  • Email marketing
  • Content marketing
  • Paid ads
  • Print advertising
  • Radio advertising
  • Influencer marketing

Obviously, there are many more buckets than this, but this is a good start to take a deeper dive (obviously, if any of your marketing tactics isn’t on this list, add them!). Next, make a note of what worked and what didn’t. Why? Because if a marketing tactic worked well, you might want to double down or invest even more funs next year. If a marketing tactic failed, you might want to either set it aside completely or get a small business marketing professional to come in and help fine-tune your efforts. What exactly does it mean to say a tactic “worked”? It means the tactic generated more leads, more followers, more trials, more sales…. there are different ways to decide if something was successful, but the bottom line is, did those marketing efforts move the needle? Did it bring you closer to generating more revenue? If it generated revenue, how much, and how did it compare to what you spent?

What marketing efforts paid for themselves?

ROIReferred to as “ROI” (return on investment), did the money and efforts you spent on marketing bring you measurable results? The easiest way to measure would be taking what you spent on marketing and comparing it to what you received in revenue. However, not all marketing efforts result in a direct sale, instead filling up your pipeline to nurture future marketing efforts. A good CRM can help determine this. How many leads came from what lead source, and how many of those leads became paying clients or at least more engaged prospects moving through the sales funnel? Determine those good lead sources and find the duds that didn’t work at all. You may already have a gut feeling which efforts worked and which didn’t, but take the time to dig deeper to find out for sure. Not sure how? A company like Strategic Marketing Services can assist in a marketing audit to help you find out.

Look at your current marketing strategy to see if it still aligns with what you know now

Armed with what worked and what didn’t work this past year, and reviewing where your company is regarding products, services, competitors, and brand, how well does your current marketing strategy hold up? For example, if you’ve introduced new products or services, how are you marketing them? Should the same tactics be used, or do you need a different approach? A new competitor in the market? How well you stack up and where they are marketing will drive a portion of your strategy. Changed your pricing model? How has that impacted your messaging? Go through your marketing strategy with a deeper understanding of who you are, how your marketing did last year, and how you can improve for next year.

Marketing tactics: something old, something new

old and new marketing tacticsWhile you may want to keep the marketing tactics that served you well, you might want to try dipping your toe in different tactics next year, like influencer marketing. Just like when you first created your strategy, you’ll need to research to understand costs and how it works before you update your small business marketing. If this year was a rough one, and you must cut back on marketing spend for next year, it might be time to cut out the tactics that gave you tepid responses and stick with the tried-and-true efforts. Regardless of what you do, you need to be sure your marketing strategy going into the new year aligns with your company, your vision for growth, and your overall goals.

Now is a good time to take a step back, update your small business marketing strategy for the year, and prepare for the year ahead. If you have a strategy, use the information above to revise and fine-tune it for the new year. If you’ve never had a marketing strategy, commit to one for the new year! Use one of the many marketing templates online or have a marketing consultant create a small business marketing plan for you. Whatever you decide to do, position your company for success next year with a solid, well-designed marketing strategy.

Patty Hughes
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