A new year is just around the corner, and with it brings a renewed energy and commitment to business development.
Ramping up to tackle 2015 with gusto should include building a marketing communications plan that outlines precisely what you want to accomplish this year with your PR, marketing and advertising, and how you’re going to work toward reaching those goals.
Here are the five most important things to include in your 2015 marketing plan:
- Goals and Objectives
Set overarching goals defining what you want to accomplish with your communications program in 2015. These should be high-level things like “increase leads,” “improve our reputation in the community,” or “create stronger relationships with referral sources.”
Objectives are more specific than goals, and they should be as “SMART” as possible – Specific, Measurable, Audience-specific, Realistic and Time-sensitive. For example, “increase the number of leads from healthcare companies through our website by 10% by June 1.”
Why are goals and objectives important? First, they give you concrete things to focus on when building your marketing plan – if a communications activity does not move you toward accomplishing your goals and objectives, don’t do it. Second, they give you specific metrics to measure against as you implement the plan so you know whether or not what you’re doing is working.
- Target Audiences
Target audiences are the specific groups of people you want to connect with in order to achieve the goals and objectives you’ve set. To make sure you’re identifying all of your target audiences, start by listing all the groups of people who can make or break your business. Obvious groups include customers and prospects, but don’t forget possibilities such as staff, volunteers, the news media and activist groups.
When defining these target audiences, consider and list the key traits of each, as they relate to your organization. After brainstorming all options, include in your completed marketing communications plan the most important target audiences that can be addressed with your budget.
- Key Messages
In looking at your list of target audiences, you will easily be able to recognize that what you need to communicate to each of these groups may differ. For example, what you’d like your client to know about your company vs. what you’d like an activist group to know about your company may vary widely.
Compile a list of 3-5 key messages for each target audience. Key messages tend to address the most pressing issue, problem or desire for each target audience, as they relate to achieving your goals and objectives. After you identify those pressing issues, problems and desires for each target audience, craft messages that explain how your business offers solutions.
Tactics are the specific PR, marketing and advertising activities you opt to include in your marketing plan. Unfortunately, this is where most companies begin their marketing communications planning. If you’ve read steps 1-3, you’ll likely realize why you are setting yourself up to fail if you jump into executing tactics without knowing what you’re trying to accomplish, who you’re trying to reach and what you’d like to tell them.
Tactics should be strategically selected according to sections 1-3 of your marketing plan. A plethora of material exists that identifies who is reading/watching/listening to the dozens of communications vehicles out there. Do your research to find the best ways to reach your target audiences and effectively deliver their key messages.
- Evaluation Mechanisms
The surest way to avoid unwise spending and wasted time on your communications program is to put in place mechanisms that allow you to track results and evaluate progress. Set up systems and integrate them into your tactics so you can accurately determine whether you are moving toward achieving the measurable objectives you’ve set.
Evaluation mechanisms such as Google Analytics, e-mail marketing program reports, social media insights reports, vanity URLs and dedicated phone numbers in advertising, key performance indicator spreadsheets and news coverage reports are just a handful of examples.
Evaluate your progress regularly and course-correct any tactics that aren’t having the intended result.
Building a marketing plan can be a complex and overwhelming process, but if you focus on these five areas, you’ll be on the right track to a successful 2015. We specialize in communications planning, so if you feel you need help establishing a communications program, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a consultation.
Best wishes for a successful and prosperous 2015!