If you’ve been hanging out online over these last couple of weeks, then you'll know that planning for 2016 is in the air. As we begin to wind down for the year, it's natural to begin thinking about the business year ahead.
So what does business planning, visions or future growth mean for your 2016 marketing plan? How do you decide what’s important, or what kind of marketing tactics are going to be right for your business? Or maybe you’re looking at the year to come and thinking, “I have no idea how to approach marketing, much less create a good plan!”
Well, no fear! In this post I’m going to walk through some important questions that you should be asking yourself as you close out your 2015 books and begin looking toward your 2016 goals.
STEP ONE: Let’s Review Last Year
The first thing that Sophie and I did when sitting down to plan Prim'd Marketing for 2016 was to look at what actually happened in 2015. We wanted to have a baseline of historical data to help us create some realistic context around our goals and plans for the coming year.
Some of the things we specifically looked at (and which tools we used) was:
- Which channels contributed to new client inquiries? (Check Google Analytics)
- What referral sources were bringing people to our website? (Check Google Analytics)
- How many clients did we work with last year? (we referred to sales in Quickbooks Online)
- What specific products or services did those clients purchase? (Quickbooks)
- What was the life-time value of that client? (Quickbooks)
- Which of our various offerings were the most profitable to our business? (Quickbooks)
- What products or services aren’t really serving us anymore? (Quickbooks)
First of all, this review process was extremely rewarding, not only because it helped gather metrics around our historical data, but also because it helped us see how far we've come! We developed entirely new ways of working with clients, we created over twenty-five big projects with those clients, and we launched a 2.0 version of our whole business, and relaunched our website. 2015 was a big year for Prim'd Marketing.
STEP TWO: Focus on Specific Areas to Grow Next year
With all of this data in mind, we started looking at which areas we could focus on to create the largest impact in 2016. Our historical review from step one showed us a couple of interesting results:
- Many of our clients come from referrals or outstanding client relationships
- Our blog is the second most visited section of our website
- Our portfolio is our third most visited section of the website
- Many of our clients report checking our website prior to calling us, so we know they’re reading our blog posts and looking at our portfolio
- The Brand Plan as well as our Blog & Social Content Plans are the best places to start with new clients (it allows us to create a strong foundation with them, and continue to guide them over the longer term of their growth)
- One-on-one blogging and social media workshops weren't really working for us anymore. After offering them in Q1 and Q2 of 2015, we realized that coaching with accountability or our Blog & Social Plan with scheduling management was a better solution than a quick DIY fix.
These insights led Sophie and I to create a few specific marketing goals in 2016 (this is the part where we’re really pulling back the curtain!)
- Because referrals tend to be a place where potential clients intersect with us, in 2016 we’re going to grow the number of group workshops & teaching opportunities that we participate in to help creative businesses and personal brands with their marketing. Therefore we'll be retiring one-on-one workshops in 2016
- Once clients find out about us they check us out on our blog to find out more about our expertise. This means that our content marketing efforts are working and we should double down on sharing our content.
- The Brand Plan and Blog & Social Content Plans allow us to have the most impact with new clients either establishing or rethinking their marketing and communications, we'll be focusing on those areas in our content marketing in 2016
STEP THREE: Find the Marketing Tools to Support Those Goals
Based on our investigation, we’re allocating either some time or budget to the following tools:
- Investing in a lead management system (LMS) or customer relationship management system (CRM) such as Streak that reminds us to follow up on leads, check in with past clients and stay up to date on their growth.
- As our content marketing is working for our sales we’re going to be looking for ways to share our content beyond our own audience (using software like Edgar)
- We’re also going to be looking at ways to either guest post or offer our expertise by writing for channels beyond our Prim’d Blog (even looking into another online marketing channel!)
- Based on our Google Analytics, traffic to our website through our newsletters isn’t quite as large as we’d like. So in 2016 we’re going to be focusing on implementing systems on our site that make it easier to join our list (something like Convert Kit).
- We’re also considering the idea of launching something in the fall of 2016 that will allow our more clients to access our method (either remotely or in some form of evergreen content). So we’re focusing on building our newsletter list now in preparation.
Beyond these examples for Prim'd Marketing, here are some of the conversations and telltale signs for marketing growth we’ve been having with our clients as they close their 2015:
Telltale Signs For Marketing Growth
- If you’re finding that many of your customers don’t know you prior to finding your website, or they search based on a product or industry you’re affiliated with (for example, “Real Estate Agent, San Francisco” or “Video Production Company, Los Angeles”) then consider investing in SEO and PPC. Taking even a quarter or two of 2016 to test if this increases traffic to your website and leads is worth the investment.
- Take note if you're doing quite a bit of explaining about what you do, or you’re getting inquiries or referrals that aren’t a good fit. This might mean that the look and feel of your website or your content doesn’t reflect who you are anymore and it might a good time to set aside some budget to update your website in 2016.
- If 2015 brought a shift in your business and you’re talking to new audiences, or if you're expanding or launching 2016, then take some time to lay the foundation for effective branding or a new website with The Brand Plan. This will help you think through what you stand for as a business and what your key messaging is. It will be highly worthwhile to do it right!
- If you can see that your content marketing is working for you (via Google Analytics), but you know that you're not consistent or don’t fully have the time to do it well, then considering budgeting toward a Blog & Social Content Plan for 2016.
- If you feel like you need all of these things, then go back to step one and look at what is the number one thing that brings in clients. Get into the nitty gritty of which channel allows you to do the most impactful work (is it your newsletters? Blogging? Networking? Social Media?). Focus Q1 of 2016 on running an experiment to test one of these channels. Taking small (but informed) steps to make an improvement in the first quarter will feel like big progress and set the tone for the rest of the year!
I’m sure this topic could be an entire book, but these are things that Sophie and I are asking each other this month. Let us know in the comments below, what are your plans for 2016? How are you deciding what to tackle first?
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