With just six weeks remaining in 2016, businesses are in the thick of organizing, planning and strategizing for the coming year, if they haven’t already. For many businesses, this may include a new marketing strategy to incorporate new trends and methods.
With that in mind, we reached out to members of the local marketing community with the following question: How often should a business refresh its marketing plan and what trends should they be aware of as 2017 approaches?
Here’s the feedback we received:
Marc Neidlinger, Blue Blazes
“Maintaining consistency across all media seems to be a difficult challenge for many organizations. With so many channels to manage in our information economy, it’s important to have check-ins at least twice a year, if not quarterly, to ensure that outreach is both visually consistent and emotionally engaging. If the marketing strategy does not focus on revealing why the organization is worthy of trust, you run the risk of adding to the noise instead of offering a safe haven from it.”
Heather Jordan, D Studio 21
“I think it may be important to note the difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy. A marketing plan is put in place to help a business achieve the goals outlined in their marketing strategy. With that said, I believe that the marketing strategy (business goals) should be evaluated on an annual basis. The marketing plan, however, should be monitored more closely. No plan is perfect, so going in with the understanding that you need to be flexible and responsive to your customers is important. At the minimum, evaluate your campaign messaging and tactics on a quarterly basis.
In 2017, marketing will continue to move toward and embrace an end-to-end customer experience. All touch points offer an opportunity to build a relationship with your customers. Maintaining a solid understanding of your ideal customer’s buying journey is key to identifying tactics for your marketing plan.”
Kevin Getch, Webfor
“We recommend businesses treat their marketing plan as a living document that is updated on an ongoing basis. If you’ve changed tactics or discovered insights into your customer, it’s important to note that in this document as a kind of organizational memory. Every business is unique and may need to revisit their strategy more or less often. Revisiting your marketing strategy annually at minimum is a good rule of thumb with quarterly (or even monthly) smaller adjustments. It’s critical that you assess whether you’re on track to meet the objectives you established based on the key performance indicators that you’re tracking.
As far as what’s trending as we head towards 2017, we are in the beginning stages of one of the biggest fundamental shifts in marketing in our lifetime. The personal PC changed the world in the 1970s and then the internet was created, changing how we share and consume information. The last ten years we’ve gone through the mobile revolution and now we are in the beginning stages of the AI revolution. Artificial intelligence is already having a major impact on how we market to our customers, but in 2017 you will see this take a momentous leap forward.” (For more on AI, see Getch’s column above.)
Tyler Zdenek & Monique Rice, Effective Web Solutions
“A marketing plan should be updated every year to account for changes in technology. Many businesses do their planning in the last quarter of the year for the next year. Phasing out old methods (like yellow pages) in favor of newer ones is a necessity. Apps are an expanding way to grow customer loyalty. If your business has a high rate of return like salons, retailers, beverage stands or groomers, get an app. You can market directly to customers while providing online scheduling, app-only deals and coupons, an industry related Q&A section and direct consultations via email. The more you make an app indispensable and provide a genuine connection between your company and the user, the greater the returns it will provide.
We have also seen an increasing number of clients coming to us that have sought out business loans and are being required to have a marketing plan and keep it implemented as part of the condition of their loan. Creating an effective marketing plan is crucial, and considerations can’t be relegated to outbound marketing. Review sites make it easier than ever for customers to air grievances against a company. New marketing means managing your reputation across multiple platforms, and always remaining vigilant.
In 2017, make your content scannable. Mobile devices have eclipsed desktop computers as the most widely used viewing devices. Bite-size content has become normalized. That means landing pages must be scannable. This can be accomplished using headers and bullets. Create a micro page out of the larger and bolder text points while the macro sub-text bodies contain all the details.”