How will your marketing plans change in 2013?

After Labor Day, many U.S. marketing departments are busy developing new plans for the coming year. New strategies may emerge from the business and old ones disappear. I like to ask the question, what will we do differently to achieve the goals we establish?  This is both a strategic and a tactical question to consider.

Here are five questions to challenge yourself and your marketing team and to force you to take a hard look at F13.

What does success look like? If you have done a good job of deciding what success looked like a year ago, you have a handy way to evaluate if you need to do the activity again, alter it or redeploy the funds. Do you end up doing the same things all over again expecting a different outcome? (if yes, you may want to Google Einstein’s definition of insanity) Having metrics in place to measure activities helps. Even if it is as common place as a trade show, what is the expected result that makes it important enough to spend $25,000 or $50,000 next year for the same show? Could you use that money in a different way and generate significantly more leads?

Tug of War Marketing 
Are you becoming predicable to your competition? If year after year you do the same things without trying something new, perhaps your competition thinks that you are sitting back and passively marketing yourself. If your marketing has become like a tug of war, you may need to shift gears. 

If this is true, are you being lazy or is what you are doing each year getting you the results your senior leadership team expects. Branching out into new areas forces you to question what you have been doing in contrast to new tactical ideas.

Are you following the herd?
Are you following the herd or carving out new territory? Growth has to come from either selling new or old products to new or old customers. Maybe there are lots of new customers somewhere where you aren’t promoting your products? Or, maybe your target audience is just not getting your message in the way you are delivering it. I like to challenge myself and my team to ask how we can open up some new opportunities that build on where we are today. It could be a different channel for product or possibly selling the same product but to a different influencer within your targeted accounts.

How can you get from here to there?
Maybe your plans aren’t clear and well-understood internally?  Maybe you have excellent plans developed with the funds to execute them, but your field sales organization thinks you are doing the wrong things. Getting buy-in and alignment is critical and a powerful way to ensure that everyone is on the same page. When they get input to the plan, it helps share the ownership of the activity. Sometimes great ideas for marketing don’t come from the marketing department and you need to embrace the idea irrespective of who gets the credit. Make sure everyone understands how you get from here to there. 

Often, companies start believing their own marketing message even when the marketplace see things differently. It is important to make sure you understand if your message is getting through to both current and prospective clients. Whether you survey or speak to people by phone, what can you learn about how you are perceived that can help you gain insight into what you need to change in the coming year. You may think new customers see you as the industry leader but your offerings are just too expensive for them. Or, you may find customers telling you that your positioning is not their top priority. Listen to the market for hints about things you may be forced to change if you aren’t getting the right messages reflected back toward you.

Are you walking in circles? 
So change is coming and you need to challenge yourself and your team. Nothing worse than walking in circles. 

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