Nicoelnino | Dreamstime
Dreamstime185365741 800

Plan Your Message, Plan Your Schedule – and Adapt for Success

Jan. 1, 2021
Keeping your marketing message in front of your audience means meeting your prospects and customers where they are, digitally and in person.

Spring, summer, the start of school – the calendar identifies the natural launch dates for our work and our lives, and the clean-slate of January comes first. But the truth is, you can start a business plan at any time, and your marketing effort should always follow a plan.

In business, planning is knowing both what you are working with and what you are working toward. For marketing, the tool you work with is “communication”, which answers questions -- the most important of which are:
-      
Who are you talking to?  (Answer… the audience.)
-       
Where will you have the conversation? (… Via a channel.)
-       
What do you want say? (… Your message.)

These are critical questions to kick-off your planning, but they are not the only ones to consider when drafting a particular campaign or a full year of marketing. It is also helpful to question and review what overall business development activities have worked in the recent past. Reviewing your sales activities, which naturally include the sales goals that the business is working towards, alongside your marketing activities (what you are working with) will lend the planning process a more integrated business development viewpoint.

Marketing builds brands, but brands without sales are not in business very long. Sales and marketing teams should be working together to improve the business.

Start with marketing. What worked as a marketing initiative? What was the most successful marketing initiative in the last 10 months? What made it successful? How did you track that success? How was the effectiveness measured? Incoming leads are a common metric for marketing effectiveness? Have the team review the past 10 months’ marketing activities that generated the most leads -- both immediately and over time. How can that activity be expanded or duplicated? What percent of those leads resulted in sales? What steps can be taken to increase the number of sales converted from those leads?

Sales typically are goal-driven, with ample numeric evidence. Questions to consider for evaluating sales performance include: What activity generated the most sales? What were some of the reasons this activity was successful? And, how can some of those reasons be carried over to other sales activities?

Have a combined sales and marketing team evaluate the length of the current sales cycle per lead. (This means time engaged with staff. The goal is to keep staff engaged at the points of the sales cycle that are pivotal, rather than trivial.) Reviewing the current sales process, is there something that could be done to shorten the active sales cycle?

Usually I offer pretty simple advice for planning marketing activities and budgets: 1) Evaluate what worked (see above) and do more of it; 2) Stay consistent with your plan; and 3) Add one “stretch” item (activity, channel, ad placement, etc. that you haven’t tried before.) Of course, there will be nuances as you proceed this way, but building on prior success and staying consistent reliably builds the branding momentum that will lead to sales.

Covid-19 and the ensuing pandemic with economic repercussions might have knocked this advice for a tailspin because consistency became difficult, if not impossible, on some fronts. “Pivot” became the operative term as plans shifted weekly or daily, and regular re-evaluation has become a requirement of our current business climate. 2020 taught everyone the value of flexibility and adapting to changes.

Applying that adaptability mindset to your 2021 marketing planning might look like…
-       
Repurposing part of your trade show budget into direct-mail pieces in support of your virtual events;
-       
Spending unused travel budget to equip sales staff with light boxes, so they appear more personable on those Zoom sales calls;
-       
Creating more digital content, such as videos or how-to’s, rather than print materials.

Despite the many other changes 2020 has brought, marketing continues to play a role in successful businesses - a role made more vital as the need for clear communication has become increasingly critical. Keeping your message in front of your audience means meeting your prospects and customers where they are, digitally and in person. A marketing plan will help. And January is a great time to start.  

Alexandria Trusov is the Director of Marketing at Euthenia Manufacturing Group and a B2B marketing consultant to manufacturers and other B2B companies.  Contact her at [email protected] or visit www.truinsightsconsulting.com.

Latest from Shop Operations