Whether you’re slowing down for the holidays or going all out to close the year strong, this is a great time to pause and think about your marketing successes and plans for the new year.
We’re all so often preoccupied with servicing clients and keeping operations running, that we often forget to step back and reflect on how important marketing is for our business. What worked? What didn’t? Has the market changed? What about your products, are they still relevant?
Here are some things you should include in your year-end marketing checklist:
Review Your Business Results
Before you start delving into your marketing activity, look at your overall financial results – wins, revenues, profits. Where did you see the biggest successes and what was behind them? Can you tie specific new customer relationships or wins to your marketing efforts? (If you’re using a marketing automation system or CRM this gets a lot easier). Then take a look at your failures. Where did your business under-perform and why?
Review Your Market
How has your market changed in 12 months? Has your target market changed? Have you lost customers or is your base growing? Can you define your ideal customer and most profitable customer?
Then think about the future. Use the intelligence gained from your review of your financial results to see where there may be an opportunity to repeat any wins that fit with your overall market strategy. Is there a certain market that you should be looking to penetrate further or would you be better off nurturing your loyal customers with special incentives, or both?
Where’s the Competition At?
Nothing keeps a small business on their toes more than the competition. Your competition informs your strengths and weaknesses, it creates opportunities and threats. So it’s very important to keep tabs on it.
Has your competition changed over the year?
What are people saying about your competition?
What’s their product/service strategy and how does it impact you?
Are they doing something that you aren’t (strategically, product-wise, or in their marketing)?
For tips on how to use this intel, read my earlier blog, Keeping Tabs on your Competitors: 6 Ways it Can Help your Business Grow.
What About Your Offerings?
A year is a long time in business – how has it impacted your product or service line?
Are your offerings still relevant?
Are they performing as intended?
Do they need packaging differently (and I don’t just mean the box they come in. Think about how you position them. Is the true value being conveyed or is your marketing missing the mark?).
Could You Tell a Better Story?
Speaking of the value that you convey in your marketing, is your messaging on point? Does it clearly convey how your offerings are different, the need they fulfil, the results they deliver? Could you benefit from segmenting your target market and delivering different messages to each? Getting your basic message right is key to resonating with your customers.
How are Your Tactical Marketing Activities Performing?
The tactics are what you use to help you achieve your marketing goals – advertising, social media, website design and optimization, etc. How are these performing? Are they doing what they need to do to help you achieve your objectives? Are you testing them before you deploy them? For more tips on perfecting your approach, read about these 5 Marketing Changes that Will Have a Big Impact on your Business.