Knowing the latest and greatest marketing tactics won’t make you successful in 2016. What does it all mean if you don’t have a plan? The marketing plan is where it all begins. Planning is where your goals and the nitty gritty specifics live.
And while you’re at it, take some time to research your audience. After all, they are researching you.
Welcome to MARS
What’s MARS? It’s a simple acronym used to explain how you can can put your marketing goals together. Your goals must be measurable, attainable, relevant and specific.
Prospects who love your company’s solution is nice, but it’s not terribly measurable, or at least not directly. Measure sales. Measure clicks. Measure time on site or page views. Even net promoter scores, the surveys to reveal your prospects’ impressions of your business, are measurable . All of these tell you something about where you are against your goals.
Don’t set your business up for failure. At the same time, keep your goals challenging. If your business had, say, $50 million in sales in 2014 (there, that’s measurable), and $55 million in 2015, a reasonably attainable goal for 2016 is $60 million in sales. Sales of $250 million is probably not attainable at this time.
Can you aspire to it? Absolutely. But a little success will do wonders for your peace of mind as you manage your stress and expectations. Is $250 million ever going to be in reach? You tell me.
If you sell widgets to your prospects, then your goals need to be about widget sales, or they must at least be directly related to widget sales. A goal about communicating the quality of your widgets to 20,000 prospects is relevant, even though it’s not exactly about sales. It is directly related. But a goal about bolstering the CEO’s reputation in the community may or may not be as relevant. Again, you tell me.
Numbers are specific, and they don’t lie. They can’t be weaseled away, either. A goal to demo your company’s solution to 45,000 prospects is refreshingly specific. If you do 44,999 demos, it’s close but no cigar. A home run is 45,001 demos.
Without specific, measurable, attainable, and relevant goals, you don’t know what success really looks like and how your activities will affect your bottom line.
Calendars & Budgets
B5 Marketing put together a great list of ways to increase ROI for 2015 and a lot of it still holds true for 2016. Identifying goals is at the top of the list, but further down the list is the concept of creating a marketing plan and calendar. Consider whether your business has seasonality baked right into it, or if prospects are more interested at different times of the year. Your campaigns should take advantage of seasonality and work to making the big pushes.
B5 Marketing also recommends that you determine your budget to forecast expense and break even analysis. What can you afford? Consider the eventualities if you fail, but also consider them in the event you succeed. You need to be prepared to do more if your campaign is successful. You need to be able to build on what is working for you.
The picture on January 1 is often not identical to the picture on July 1. Going back to MARS, revisit your plan regularly. Monthly or quarterly are generally good intervals. Change what isn’t working. Do more of what does work. Invest your time, money, and resources in the good stuff.
This attitude toward campaigns, where everything can be changed if circumstances change, is analogous to the software development methodology known as iterative. Iterative development allows for regular evaluations of software development, and engineers are able to change their designs on the fly. The team pays attention to what’s happening in the market with competitors and anywhere else where relevant changes may be happening.
The same should be true of your marketing and advertising plan for 2016. If it’s no longer relevant, then return to MARS.
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