As the fiscal year comes to a close, everyone starts thinking about all the things they’ll need to do to continue growing their business next year. In my world, a big part of that planning is marketing, and all marketing decisions start with review: review the numbers and review with your people.

Review the numbers.

The first thing to review is last year’s marketing plan. So, if it’s the end of the 2019 fiscal year, you should be looking at your 2019 marketing plan.

Review last year’s activities.

Now is the time for a reality check: did you do the activities that you set out to do? Be honest with yourself, because next year you want to have a marketing plan that not only works, but is attainable as well. 

If you’re a person who didn’t get everything you planned accomplished this year, that’s okay. I’m one of those people too. I’m a big picture optimist. In the excitement of planning I outline all kinds of activities without considering how much I can realistically get done.

Hand pointing to line graph depicting business growth through marketing plans with bar chart above comparing activities
Photo by Lukas from Pexels

Maybe you’re not like me at all and you got everything done in 2019. You deserve a pat on the back and an ice-cold beverage of your choice because you my friend, are killing it. 

For those squarely rooted in my camp – consider scaling back next year. You deserve a realistic marketing plan. The goal is to get it done, not just think about doing it. You have to do the activities to get the results, so allow yourself to begin where you are now. Start next year’s plan with the ACTUAL amount of activities you completed this year. Then ask yourself:

  • How much did your business grow this year?
  • How much money did you make?
  • Do you want to grow next year?
  • Can you prioritize to accomplish more? 

If you still want to go big you can always outsource things, you don’t have to do it all on your own. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money. The question is – where do spend it? Now’s when we review our numbers.

Review activities vs. revenue.

The more organized and documented your sales process is, the easier this will be. Hopefully you have a totally awesome CRM, that documents everything for you. If you have something that can spit out a report, now’s the time to review it.

If you’re not super techy, hit up your sales people and your accounting people. It’s spreadsheet time! Accounting can usually get you a list of all the new business you brought in this year and how much they paid. If you’re marketing to current clients make sure to document the sales there as well. Hand that spreadsheet over to sales to document how they got each client.

This exercise will give you a good picture of which marketing activities are yielding business.

From there, back over accounting you go, you’re going to need an expense report. Document how much time and money you invested in each of the marketing activities in your plan. Then ask yourself: was it worth it? Was the money you invested worth the outcome you received?

These don’t always match up dollar for dollar. Some activities are about creating relationships. These types of marketing often yield business down the road. Take that into account when determining the value of an activity. It’s not just a numbers game, it’s a gut game too.

Last year, we embarked on this activity because I was wondering what parts of our marketing was working. I wanted to know – should we cut back on one or do we need to hire people to help us do more?

  • We marketing online.
    We are focused on growing or business in other parts of the country with our online marketing. We pour a lot of man hours into building leads online.
  • We invest in networking.
    We also do face to face marketing like trade shows, and conferences.  Which are expensive. The booth, the set up, travel, hotel, meals and time away from the office not billing out hours adds up fast.  
  • We build on relationships with current clients.
    We create return business through client reviews.  We invest time every month to review and interpret our clients’ marketing data, usually without compensation, to outline ways to improve their marketing.

After doing the activity, we found that a third of our business comes from current clients. A third come from our website. And a third is from face to face networking activities. Affirming our plan was well balanced and working. The amount we invested was returning as we hoped it would.

Review with your people.

Mixed in with all this number and plan review, there needs to be a conversation with your people. When I say people, I mean both sales and marketing.

As businesses grow, sales and marketing teams may drift apart from one another, and as they diverge, the marketing team can lose sight of the client. Let your sales, project management and support staff reacquaint your marketing team with the goals, challenges and motives of the clients and prospects they talk to everyday. 

Maintain Consistency

The message from your company needs to be consistent between marketing and sales. You want prospects and customers to hear the same message in your marketing they will hear from the sales and service people. Consistent messaging builds the trust that will build your business.

It’s my job as a marketer to put our name out there and bring in leads for my sales people to work. So when my sales people have a conversation with a prospect they have heard of us, evaluated our company and in some cases have already made the decision to work with us. Many of our prospects just need to have a great conversation with a person who’s saying the same thing that the marketing already told them.

If I’m not pushing out the same message they’re spreading, then we are not effectively communicating with our prospects. It’s not consistent. Without consistency we’re not going to build the trust we need to close business.

Ask your sales people, what do they need to sell? 

We keep a running wish list all year long. Pens, trade show booth displays and even gigantic TV’s all go on the wish list. Having the list doesn’t mean we buy everything on it. It just means when we have a profitable month we know where we’d like to invest our money.

If you haven’t started your list, then ask your salespeople what they need. Make sure to assess things like:

Brochures

Have your sales people read them. Do they say the same thing that they tell people in their conversations to close the deal? Do you talk about your services the same way as you did when you made that brochure?  Remember – consistency builds trust.

Banners & Signage

Look at your banners. Look at your trade show get up. Is it as good or better than that of your competition? Is it representative of your current brand? Does it make you feel proud to stand in front of it?

Promotional Items

Make sure that you have enough things like pens, chip clips, sunglasses, and whatever else you give away to your clients. Do an assessment on those items. Are you proud to give them away? Do you feel like they’re useful to people? Do they seem genuinely interested in these items? Are there items that you can think of that might be better? Reach out to the people who produce them for you and ask them if there’s anything better on the market right now you need to know about.  Because these types of things are readily available for order online, people often feel like they need to go out and find the product for themselves. I have gotten just as good if not better deals by contacting my sales rep and allowing them to guide me. Don’t sink hours into internet searching for the perfect giveaway, find someone who can help you.

Logo Apparel

Take a hard look at your team members. Do they look sharp right now? Because they should look sharp, you want everybody looking their best, both on the job and when they’re going out to market with people.  If they don’t, budget in new uniforms or logo apparel. 

Now you all you need is a spreadsheet and a calendar.

You’ve done your homework, so now you’re ready to roll. It’s time to break out a spreadsheet and a calendar. You need a spreadsheet so you can list your marketing activities for the coming year and document the amount of money it will cost you to do everything. You need a calendar so you can figure out when you’re going to get it done. Reserve time on your calendar now to make sure that you can make it a priority and get the job done right.

So as you’re looking forward, and considering what activities you need to do in your marketing next year – review. Review the numbers and review with your people. Document what you invested in over the past year and measure their outcomes.

Talk to your people about what they feel like they need to have to earn more business. Then roll it all together into your plan for next year.

More about the Author

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Monica Pitts

Monica is the creative force and founder of MayeCreate. She has a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture with an emphasis in Economics, Education and Plant Science from the University of Missouri. Monica possesses a rare combination of design savvy and technological know-how. Her clients know this quite well. Her passion for making friends and helping businesses grow gives her the skills she needs to make sure that each client, or friend, gets the attention and service he or she deserves.

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