How do you know if you need to restructure your marketing plan?
If you don't already revisit your marketing plan every year, then you should adjust your schedule to allow time for reflection. Over time, your business changes, and so should your promotional efforts.
Even before the pandemic struck during the first quarter of 2020, analysts sounded warning bells about a potential looming recession. However, consumer confidence was extremely high, impacting sales across most industries.
In its 2020 Consumer Trends report, Global Web Index indicated around 60% of internet users believed their finances would improve in the first half of the year. At the same time, people are feeling more nostalgic and longing for the simplicity of bygone eras.
With the massive changes in 2020, it's essential to restructure your marketing plan now. Whenever there is a major shift in world events or even your customer base, it's time to take another look at your strategies to make sure everything works as intended.
Five Reasons to Restructure Your Marketing Plan This Year
1. Changing Small Business Culture
When you're just starting out, you have a chance to shape and encourage your brand's culture. Offering time off to participate in pet projects or embracing a cause changes the face of who you are as a brand. If you're a solopreneur, think about the causes you care about and work time into your week to volunteer.
As your business grows and you take on new employees, your operations change. You may have a crew who is incredibly optimistic and creative. If you run with the ideas they bring you, your organization changes drastically. If there's been a shift in how your company operates, your marketing should reflect those changes.
2. Major World Events
Major world events change how consumers spend their money. At the beginning of 2020, the world dealt with a pandemic on a level not seen since the Spanish Flu of 1918. The impact was almost immediate. Businesses shuttered their doors, and employers were left scrambling to figure out how to allow staff to work from home.
Another major change is how people buy during a crisis. Many families change their buying habits during difficult times, spending more on essential items and stockpiling things such as alcohol, guns and food. At one point, alcohol sales increased by 55% in a single week. Apparently, toilet paper is a hot commodity as well.
Businesses selling nonessential products should look at how they can market or change their items to become more in-demand and sell accordingly.
For example, many distilleries around the United States shifted from making alcohol to creating hand sanitizer for the general public. And restaurants not offering delivery or curbside pickup quickly shifted to a different service model, some even adding virtual cooking classes.
3. Learning New Skills
As your business grows, both owners and employees learn new skills. You attend trade shows, read books and learn from mentors. If you stick to the same marketing plan and methods year after year, you miss out on your chance to restructure to showcase those new abilities and let your customers know just what you can do. Learn techniques to sell yourself and your unique value proposition (UVP).
4. Shift in Target Audience
Your target audience might shift this year. As you offer different products and services and expand your reach in the world, you'll find the demographics of your typical customer also change.
At least twice a year, you should look at your internal data and see who buys from you. Are there any major changes in your customer base? How can you include new buyer personas as they emerge without alienating or ignoring current users?
5. Ads Not Effective
If you find your ads aren't providing the conversion rates you'd like, it's time to revamp your marketing plan.
Examine which tactics bring in the most traffic. Keep what does well, and remove what doesn't. Replace ineffective promotions with something new and fresh. Pay attention to what your competition does and come up with something even better.
Tips to Implement Your New Marketing Plan
Once you've looked at the factors impacting your advertising strategy, it's time to come up with a fresh marketing plan. Following are some tips to help you get the most from your efforts.
- Write your plan down. Having something concrete keeps you from veering off course.
- Express your expectations. What do you hope to achieve with this new plan? What are your goals? Be specific.
- Choose your marketing team carefully. Pick the right people to implement the plan. If you want to expand your video marketing efforts, include a team member knowledgeable in production.
- Create a timeline. Know what major holidays you need to cover. Note when different campaigns start and end, and how long an ad runs.
- Track results. Create a backend reporting system the entire team accesses to see results in real-time. If an advertisement isn't working, don't be afraid to change it or pull it. There's no need to waste money.
- Be flexible. Is your latest Facebook ad receiving no click-throughs? Make some changes on the fly and adapt the audience parameters. Try different things until it's successful.
- Cheer success. If your team comes up with a unique idea and gains results, host a pizza party on Friday for the marketing group.
- Repeat positive results. If you consistently get the same results by advertising on a particular medium or about a specific product, repeat those campaigns. There are some things so classic you don't need to change things up.
- Get creative. If you aren't finding the success you want with your new marketing plan, revamp it. Don't be afraid to throw the entire thing out and start fresh.
Remember to include multiple types of marketing content. Look at social media, your website, content, emails, snail mails and even in-store promotions when planning your branding efforts.
A new marketing plan seems overwhelming at first. There may be updated style guides, platforms and branding messages. Take your time getting to know what works and what doesn't, and don't be afraid of embracing change. The ads that worked yesterday may no longer work today. The key is to be flexible and pay close attention to trends.
As a small business owner, you're in a unique position to pivot, change, or restructure your marketing plan quickly.
Take some time to look at where your business is at right now and reflect on these questions:
- What are your prospects for the next few months?
- What's working well? What isn't?
- Has the business changed in culture, demographics, or expertise?
- How are ad conversion rates across the different platforms?
Use what you've learned to increase your efforts towards what's working. In strange times like these, reassessment may need to take place more often.
Above all, get creative and stay positive.
Lexie Lu is a designer and blogger. She contributes to the design world and always has a cup of coffee in close proximity. She writes weekly on Design Roast and can be followed on Twitter @lexieludesigner.
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