It's that time of the year again— not just the holiday season, the time for decorating, family gatherings, and gift-giving, but the planning season. And we are deep into the planning season. Have you mapped out a 2024 plan for your business yet? Are your sales goals set? Do you have an idea what your expenses will be in the coming year? What about marketing? Do you have a marketing strategy that helps you hit your sales goal and is a planned budget in your expenses? If not, don't worry. Here are a few tips to help you plan a smoother journey to your 2024 goals.
Why Annual Planning? Think of annual planning like getting ready for a big trip. You wouldn't just jump in the car and go. You’d plan your route, pack your bags, and make sure you've got enough money to do what you want to do. Annual planning for your business is pretty much the same. It's about setting goals, figuring out how to reach them, and preparing for the bumps along the way.
The Role of Marketing in Your Plan Marketing is your roadmap. It shows you where your customers are, how to reach them, and how to keep them coming back. Without it, you're just driving in circles. So, when you sit down to plan, think about these things:
Who are my customers? Picture who you're trying to reach. What do they like? What do they need? Ask the same questions for your prospects, new customers, that will help your business grow. Identify where you have opportunities and recognize where you will have some challenges in selling to both customers and prospects.
What's my message? Sometimes this is the hardest part- “What do I say in my messaging?”. Start with how your product or service solves your customers’ problems. This is like your travel slogan. Make it clear, be consistent, and keep your customers’ needs at the center of the messaging, not you. No one really cares about how long you have been in business or how many awards you have won or if it's a family business. They care most about how you can solve their problems.
How will I spread the word? Will you use social media, TV ads, email marketing, streaming, or maybe even flyers? There are lots of roads to take here. The answer is usually a mix of tactics will be the best course. Start with what your ideal customers are using and build from there. “Ideal customers” is important to use as a guide. Some businesses say that everyone is their customer, which may be true. But if you dig deeper into that business there is a segment that they sell to most. Remember any road will get you where you want to go if you are willing to put in the time and money, but the most direct, ideal, route is usually the best way. The same is true with messaging.
What's my budget? A rule of thumb is 3-7% of gross sales is a good place to start. Then factor in new product or service rollouts, competition, and market conditions. Get comfortable with the fact that marketing will cost money and know how much you will spend on your marketing trip. The most common mistake we see is that a business will allocate too little to a marketing budget and their plan runs out of gas early in the year. And no one likes running out of gas.
What's the difference between marketing and advertising? Marketing is a series of actions that incorporates a strategy to meet goal(s), which includes tactics and KPIs measuring progress along the way. Advertising is a tactic within marketing. Running ads on Facebook or buying Google AdWords is not marketing but could be part of it.
Setting Goals and Measuring Success Goals are your destinations. Maybe you want more people visiting your store or more sales online. Whatever it is, make it specific. And don't just set it and forget it. Check-in regularly to see if you're getting closer to your goal.
Getting Professional Help If this is overwhelming or something you don’t have time to do, get help. There are plenty of companies that will guide you and help you reach your goals. Find the one that aligns best with your company goals, culture, and business philosophy. For example, at Envision, we believe in helping our clients achieve their goals first and foremost, we work hard but don’t take ourselves too seriously, we enjoy giving back to our communities and we like to work with businesses that share these same ideas. Working with a marketing firm is like sharing an Uber with someone, it makes for a better ride if you like them.
Let's Hit the Road Together So if you're ready to start your business's annual planning and want to make sure your marketing is on point but don’t know where to start, reach out to us. We love to chat about this stuff. Visit www.envision38.com to learn more about how we can help.
Remember, a little planning goes a long way, and with the right marketing plan, this year could be your best year yet. Let's make it happen!