Common mistakes to avoid when creating your 2018 marketing plan/strategy

The end of the year is fast approaching and as we prepare to say goodbye to 2017 there’s no better time to plan for an exciting year ahead.

However, with so many marketing channels available to you, creating a marketing plan can sometimes be a challenge for many businesses, especially because spreading the budget thinly may compromise results.

If you operate in a competitive market place with many organisations competing for voice, there will always be businesses with deeper pockets who can shout louder than you to get attention.

But size of marketing budget is not the only key to marketing success.

You can build competitive advantage for your business through a smart and innovative marketing strategy and plan as long as you avoid these 7 mistakes:


Mistake #1: Replicating your rivals

It’s easy to look at the competition and imitate what they’re doing.

Why wouldn’t you want to share that success? But just because something works for them, doesn’t mean it’s right for you or your business. Their USP (unique selling point) puts them in a league of their own and is specific to their objectives, positioning and what they intend to achieve.

Your USP should be integral to your brand. It should set you apart from the competition so that your potential clients can clearly identify why your proposition represents the best choice for them over all of the alternatives.

And just as your competitor’s USP is unique, so is their tone of voice. Why sound the same as your competitor? Your business has its own character and personality and you should aim to project it.

In a crowded market place with so many voices competing for attention, your brand tone of voice is what sets you apart, gets you noticed and makes you recognisable.

It’s a voice that distinguishes trust and goes hand in hand with your reputation. It personifies your products and services and it’s yours to own. Your voice should be celebrated and cherished – a strong identity is beyond imitation… those that try will only sound like you.


Mistake #2: Not knowing your market

How well do you know your audience?

Do you know their industry, business needs and the problems they face?

Do you know how they search for you, how they want you to make contact with them and the best way to reach them?

Whether they’re supplier-loyal or can be swayed based on price, location or incentive? Researching your target market thoroughly and identifying pen portraits of your buyers is a sound business investment. It’s one that will provide a return time and again, and guarantee your marketing plan is effective.

As soon as you know your clients’ needs and understand their business you can clearly see their problems and how you can solve them. And with the right platforms (LinkedIn etc) you can ensure you’re front of mind as soon as they need you.


Mistake #3: Not testing your campaigns

You’ve invested time, money and effort into your marketing plan but if it’s going to be successful you need to test, test, and test again.

You know your market and you know your product inside out but you don’t know how your campaign will be received. That’s where campaign analysis is crucial – your marketing success depends on it.

As a business you need to know how your market responds to your marketing campaigns and you need to know what you can do to improve buyer engagement.

A/B testing is a great way of identifying the strengths of your campaigns before they’re launched. This could be as simple as testing two email subject lines to see which has the highest open rate or offering an incentive to one email and not the other to see which has the greatest response.

User feedback from potential clients is invaluable to your business and a small team of volunteers/focus group will help you understand how your clients feel, what they want from your business and how your services can support their needs.


Mistake #4: Only focusing on new relationships

You should never take your clients for granted. Loyalty can be rare in a market place driven by price – but strong client relationships are invaluable and a small reward for their returning business could maximise your sales.

Direct marketing is a great way to gain repeat business from your market – especially using email as you already have the data you need to personalise your message and add the detail that makes the difference.


Mistake #5: Not signposting the customer journey

When you’ve identified your buyer profiles it’s important to establish their place in the buying journey. This stops you targeting the wrong audience and diluting your message. It makes your products and services relevant on a personal level. Your campaign intentionally interrupts their day with directional messages in content, copy, design and music that encourage a sale, make the buyer act and as a result make your campaign succeed.


Mistake #6: Asking too much

Your clients are time-poor and live in a distracted world where new messages compete for attention by the second. Sounds dramatic doesn’t it but pick up your smart phone or open your email and count the number of notifications vying for your attention. If you expect your campaigns to do too much and if they overwhelm the buyer they are almost certain to fail. Yet if you focus on one objective and tailor your marketing plan to achieve that specifically, the results will reward you. Give your buyers one precise message that only asks them to do one thing. Make your message clear and focused and your clients will be too.


Mistake #7: Not adding value

Many of your clients may be ‘digital natives’, those who’ve grown up with instant access to communication and expect businesses and services to be available at the touch of a button, 24-7. You need to work harder to attract their business and find innovative ways to keep their attention. You need to be relevant. And the most successful businesses doing this are those that engage, entertain and educate their audience. The 80/20 rule is a good one to follow, that means 80% of your content should directly target your client – and only 20% should promote your business.


Worried you don’t have time?

Sometimes we can be too close to our business to see opportunities when they present themselves. And we can also be too busy too. It’s often more cost-effective to use an agency with marketing strategy expertise who can see your business from a different perspective. If you’d like strategic help with your 2018 marketing plan contact us today on 01763 877110.

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