How to Plan Now for Better Marketing in 2018


We’re well into Fall, which means it’s time to start your 2018 marketing planning. This may seem early but the truth is, no strategy should be done on the fly or at the last minute.

For many businesses, the end of the year is predictably a busy period—with holidays and vacations, end-of-year bookkeeping, budgeting, and other responsibilities to manage. It’s all too easy to let your marketing plan get pushed to the side. But doing so is a mistake, since your plan should guide you into a strong start to the year—not another month of playing catch-up.

We’ve put together four important steps to start taking now to develop your 2018 marketing plan.

1. Review the Past

Take time to review your marketing results from the past year, looking at the end of 2016 and your results from 2017 so far. How successful have your efforts been? What has changed, if anything? Note what worked exceptionally well, what failed, and what merely performed adequately. Did your marketing results help to reach or exceed the business goals you set at the beginning of 2017?

This analysis can help you determine which channels and tactics are worth carrying forward into a new year’s marketing plan, as well as which could be left behind. It also allows you to gather the data you need to make budget allocation decisions.

2. Do Your Homework

In addition to reviewing your past marketing efforts, look at current marketing trends. Perhaps there are channels you haven’t utilized yet that are worth considering, or tactics that other brands are phasing out. You shouldn’t latch on to something just for the sake of being trendy, but your exploration could lead you to some valuable insights and ideas. Check out this post on recent marketing statistics for guidance.

Part of doing your homework at this stage also includes conducting specific market research. What are your competitors doing? What about top brands in your line of business? They may not be local players, but it’s still important to keep tabs on the industry pulse. Examine what they’re doing to see if there’s anything you can emulate or avoid.

Most importantly, check in with your audience and customers. You might even consider conducting a brief survey. What works for them, and what do they want more of? This will help you develop a strategy that enhances brand perception and strengthens customer loyalty.

3. Set Goals

Now that you’ve reviewed what has worked for your business in the past, examined other business’ marketing efforts, and looked into trends, it’s time to examine your goals. Don’t set the same ones you set for 2017—take a look at where your business is now and where you want to be at the end of next year. How can your marketing help to achieve that? Some goals may be similar, but ensure that you’re continuing to push your business forward.

Goal setting will help in building your marketing budget for 2018. You should know which areas deserve funding and be able to prioritize them in your budget. While you shouldn’t set your budget in stone just yet, you can begin to carve out one that will meet your business needs to achieve your goals. (There may even be opportunities you can take advantage of now, at the end of 2017, that can help you save down the road.)

4. Line Up Resources

Don’t wait until next year to get your resources in order. Now is a great time to reach out  to potential partners. Do your research and set things in motion soon so that when you’re ready to nail down the budget and get 2018 started, you already have that partner in place to help you. Check out our previous post on what makes a great media partner to help you identify what to look for.

Starting your 2018 marketing plan now helps you get ahead on some of the campaigns you may already have in mind. Book advertising spots in advance—this will help ensure you have the spots you prefer, and it may help lower the cost as well. Will you need actors for radio or TV spots? You can begin the search and have talent lined up and ready to go.

These four steps will help you get started building your marketing budget and fully developing a 2018 marketing plan. By reviewing the past successes and failures of your marketing, tracking current trends, and aligning your marketing goals with your business goals, you can set your business up for success while giving yourself time to connect with trustworthy marketing partners. You don’t need to head into 2018 blind, so take the time you need now to plan ahead and set yourself up to succeed.

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