When you rotate a map of England to the right ninety degrees, it looks vaguely like a ragged old shoe. Could this be a clue to the political meaning behind the nursery rhyme “The Little Old Woman who Lived in a Shoe?”
Some historians believe the “Old Woman” is Great Britain’s King George II. He’s the fellow who started the 18th century craze for men wearing white powdered wigs, possibly giving rise to the Old Woman moniker. Apparently he was met with a good deal of insubordination while serving as sovereign and, like the elderly mother in the rhyme, had a crisis of planning when it came to his “children.”
There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn't know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.
Some think “children” refers to parliament. We prefer the interpretation that points to the global empire of colonies under British rule. Could George II’s haughty mistreatment of his colonial possessions have been one of the root causes of the rebellion that occurred at the end of the century under his grandson, George III?
No one knows for sure who’s who in the nursery rhyme, but what is certain is this: Whether you’re ruling an empire or running a business, you need to plan carefully with the best information available.
Thanks to English kings and old women, we submit some ideas on how to build a marketing plan for this year, or next. Failing to construct a thoughtful marketing plan places your business on a collision course with whips, broth and bed.
How to Build a 2017 Marketing Plan for More Leads, More Sales, and More Revenue
If you're serious about tapping into more engagement, more leads, and ultimately more sales in 2017, put your plan under scrutiny. Even if you have worked out a marketing strategy for this year, it’s not too late to update it, taking stock of new competitors, new platforms, and adjusted goals.
A marketing strategy is essential for your ongoing business success. And now more than ever, big national brands are spending on domination of online message space, but that doesn’t mean that your local brand can’t rule the local online marketing realm.
Where to start? What are the elements of an internet marketing plan? Here are some categories to think about:
- Social media engagement- posting, listening and responding
- Email marketing
- Direct mail marketing
- Inbound content marketing (blog posts, articles)
- Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Pay-per-click (PPC) Marketing
Even the first item- social media- may seem like a daunting task to handle (“Can I keep five different social media accounts going?”) We’re with you. In fact we advise our clients that It's impractical for most small businesses to be on every social media platform or use every form of marketing. Instead, you'll need to focus only on what is essential to reaching your immediate business goals. To figure this out, you'll need a plan. This plan, your marketing strategy, is comprised of data, goals, and tactics.
How to Build A Marketing Strategy for 2017
Step 1: Establish your baselineIt's hard to know if your efforts are helping if you don't know where you're at or where you're going. This is why we advocate that you set up a baseline first. What are your assets and liabilities at the present moment?
- How many leads are we getting per month? How are we obtaining their contact information?
- How many leads convert into customers?
- What is the average lifetime value of each customer?
- What percentage of customers do we retain over time?
- How many site visits do we get per (day/week/month)?
- How many followers do we have on each social media platform?
- What’s our most effective campaign strategy when we compare cost vs. revenue for each one?
Being unable to answer some of these questions will tell you where you need more data, so a non-answer can be as valuable as a firm number for the ones for which you have data.
These are merely ideas for your package of baseline data. There may be other metrics you need in order to tell the truth about your condition. Eventually, you’ll have a report that you can measure all new strategies against. If new marketing efforts aren't bringing in more or better opt-ins, leads, and sales than what you had before you started, you'll know it's not performing as well.
Step 2: Evaluate the competition
Next, you'll evaluate your competition. Here you want to see what the industry leaders are doing. There’s no shame in copying what works! Also, you can optimize what they could improve. For example, if your peers are unanimously on LinkedIn more than Facebook, there's probably a reason for that. Or if they tend to share a certain type of content more than others, then that's a clue you may need to do the same in your marketing. You can also use what you find in your competition research to carve out your unique value proposition; what sets you apart from the pack.
Step 3: Define your goals
Third, you'll define your goals for the upcoming year. How much more revenue can you reach for? What will it take to get there? The math isn’t difficult. Suppose each customer brings in an extra $1000 annually and you are converting 10% of leads. Based on this baseline, you should know how many more leads to add to the pipeline or what higher percentage of leads you must convert in order to reach revenue goals. Of course, you know that better leads means higher conversion percentages, which leads to the next step.
Step 4: Build your buyer persona
A buyer persona is the archetypal company or person who is most likely to buy from you. What are their demographics, interests, most burning problems? What marketing messages have they responded well to and which have they historically ignored? Remember that this individual / company will likely not share your exact problems and interests, which is why creating this persona is so important for getting message to market match. There are a lot of business websites out there that fail to produce many leads because they major in information that the visitor doesn’t care about.
Step 5: Determine your social media strategy
Social media marketing is one tactic you can't ignore. Social media changes rapidly and can bring your brand some huge wins - if you know how to use it in your sales and marketing funnel.
- Choose the platforms to concentrate on
- Create profiles which match your brand
- Share content which engages your ideal buyer persona
- Give resources to your current strategy to get bigger wins
There is no one-size-fits-all social media strategy, although there are some general identifiable trends, like the shift toward video content and immersive experiences over quickie content such as a tweet. Some channels work better for business-to-consumer (B2C) brands while others work better for business-to-business (B2B).
Step 6: Determine your inbound content marketing strategy
Here’s a quick refresher on inbound vs outbound marketing (outbound =”interruption” marketing). Your social media strategy should directly align with your content marketing strategy. Your content marketing should include items such as blog posts, articles, ebooks, white papers that your personas can use to solve a problem, and video or audio content. All the topics you cover should match what your buyer persona cares about, not what you care about. To make inbound content marketing work, it's essential that you share things of real value. That way, your original content becomes a highway that off-ramps right into your funnel.
Step 7: Build an email marketing campaign
Email remains one of the best ways to sell your products or services. To build an effective email marketing funnel-feeder, you will need:
- Several different offerings such as ebooks, cheat sheets, guides, top ten lists, etc.
- An autoresponder sequence (aka “workflow”) which automatically opens the user to more options to interact with you
- A follow-up email containing your offer (a relevant product, service, or sales call), and a thank you
- An automated process to enroll the lead into a nurturing phase, like ongoing email offers which keep your company top of mind
Once you have your baseline, and armed with these ideas, go for it! You can grow your business with just a few reallocations of time and investment from traditional (or no) marketing techniques to an inbound-based approach. Your competitors are already doing it, and if they’re not, they will be soon.
Failing to put thought and careful planning into action means you’ll find yourself in the unenviable position of not knowing what to do, which is not good news for anyone. Beware a multitude of angry “children,” recently whipped and starved!