When it’s time to look ahead and pave a marketing path for the future, you’ll try to be as thorough and ambitious as possible. Reevaluating existing campaigns, setting up new experiments to find some untapped potential, selecting must-attend events to entice possible prospects… Just some of the items that will make their appearance on the slides of your marketing team’s presentation.

 

 

To make sure your bases are covered, we have compiled a list of 11 questions you need to ask yourself when finalising your future marketing plans.

 

1. Am I picking my battles?

 

The first thing you want to ask yourself: “What are my goals for the year?”

For example: Do you want to reduce churn by 200% or do you want to increase acquisition by 300%?

That’s right: “or.”

Choose a focal point for the upcoming year. Don’t try to shoehorn in every ambition into a single year. If you try to accomplish many things at once, you’ll probably end up doing none of them properly. Even if you have the people and the resources, aligning them will bring more clarity and produce better results than splitting up the responsibilities and budgets.

Dramatic overhauls tend to fail more often than not.

2. Am I prioritizing the right things?

 

Double down on what works. Might seem an obvious one, but you’d be surprised about how often we start chasing rainbows when there’s still a lot of potential in our “sure things.” We get it. It’s fun to get excited about upcoming marketing trends. Influencer marketing, chatbots, VR ads, etc., all seem to promise us game-changing possibilities. But before you go experimenting, take a look at where the main share of your success comes from. Have you allocated enough resources to sustain this success? Wouldn’t innovating in these existing channels yield better results than innovating in new, unexplored territory? A 1% increase in revenue in your existing marketing mix might be worth more than a 100% gamble on something you’re not quite familiar with yet. Bet on a sure thing first and foremost.

Not sure which channels deserve your love, and which ones should be binned? Use our BCG Matrix for Marketing Channels. 

3. Where can I trim some fat?

 

While you’re looking at your existing marketing mix and ways to optimize it, take a look at the marketing tools and services you’re using as well. Too many marketing teams (and companies in general, really) eagerly buy new toys but tend to forget about them when usage drops or becomes non-existent. Forgotten subscriptions can add up real fast. Remember that email automation tool you signed up for two years ago? No? Your credit card does.

Also, as marketing tech progresses, reassess your arsenal from time to time and research if you’re still getting the most bang for your buck. You know what you need, and maybe you have several tools that do the job, but if there’s a solution out there that does it all for two-thirds of the price, it’s definitely worth taking a look at.

The same goes for your team members. While letting go of people is nowhere near as easy as unsubscribing from software, both need to happen sometimes. A team is only as performant as its weakest link.

4. Am I going to be where my best customers are?

 

Great digital marketers understand their customer base. They understand that not all customers are the same and that there’s no such thing as one fixed blueprint for “a customer.”

Instead of trying to embrace every single customer, focus on your best customers. Similar to getting the most out of your existing marketing mix, concentrating on your best customers generally produces better results.

A couple of questions for you to answer:

  • Which type of customers makes you the most money?
  • What kind of people do you like to interact with?
  • Can you characterize your best customers through a buyer persona?
  • What does their life look like?
  • What challenges are they encountering?
  • How do they search for a solution to these challenges?
  • Is your offer the best solution to their challenges?

Customer centricity does not imply that the client is always right. Read the following article, Explained: Customer Centricity & Customer Heterogeneity

5. Am I patient enough for long term gains?

 

Prioritizing and doubling down on what already works (see question 2) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to innovate and think about the future. On the contrary, as soon as you get your bases covered for today’s and tomorrow’s gains, start working on the day after tomorrow or your long-term strategy. Some things just take time, like building a trustworthy brand or getting traction with your content marketing. Don’t get discouraged if your campaigns aren’t giving you instant results. It’s often a game of marginal gains in the beginning.

6. Am I flexible and ready to adapt?

 

Even when you’ve got your short and long-term strategy all figured out, there’s still an area you should always cover: The unexpected. Maintaining a flexible mindset can be the difference between enduring and bankruptcy.

The challenges won’t always take the size of a global pandemic or an economic crisis. Yet, even small, unforeseen changes can leave quite a mark. Think about social media platforms that change algorithms overnight or major brands that decide to have a go at your market space.

If your organization’s value proposition suddenly shifts, every marketing item has to be adjusted as well. Updating your website, landing pages, social media account information, one-pagers… even everyone’s email signature should be feasible in a matter of days, not weeks.

Flexibility is needed to jump on unexpected opportunities as well. Society could suddenly make a big deal about something that relates to your product or services. An agile marketing department has the upper hand to go viral with a well-timed and relevant campaign.

Always keep your strategy lean and have some budget to spend, just in case. Don’t lock it up in one place or spend it all on up-front deals. Self-serving channels like Google or Linkedin allow you to invest or withdraw on the fly. In contrast, offline ad space can make you sit through a deal for quite some time. If you didn’t negotiate some “ifs” upfront, you might face a rough patch.

 

 

7. What are my competitors doing?

 

You don’t always have to try and reinvent the wheel. Take a look at your most successful competitors, and see what works for them.

Use tools like BuiltWith to see what their tech stack looks like. Use Similarweb to see how many visits they have on their website. Use SEO tools (like Moz ) to discover what keywords they rank well on. Use the Facebook ads library to find out what kind of ads they are running. Subscribe to their newsletter to understand how they communicate. Buy a product on their website or submit a lead form to experience what their onboarding flows look like or how they handle delivery, for example.

Do this before you finalize your plans and not halfway through them. You’ll save a lot of time if you can implement some pre-existing elements in advance and improve on them later during the year. Also never simply copy but rather see it as gathering inspiration to apply to your unique own plans.

Not sure who your competitors are? Ask your clients. They’ll tell you who they compared you with and why they chose you.

Mind you. We’re not telling you to copy your competitors’ tactics blindly. Do it to spot opportunities in the market that they might have tried to capture but didn’t execute well enough on, for example. Sometimes, doing the complete opposite might work. But you won’t know what the opposite is of something you never took a look at.

8. Are my marketing plans realistic?

 

In other words, do your abilities match your ambitions?

Your plans might look perfect on paper: clear goals, sound priorities, flexible … And yet, you still might have to go back to the drawing board if you

1. lack the right people to pull this off.

2. lack the necessary budgets to make it happen.

You also have to take into account seemingly smaller factors that can have a major influence. Take the law of diminishing returns, for example. As you increase your output, your marginal gains will drop… In other words, for every extra amount you invest in your marketing mix, your return on investment lowers every time, given that all other factors remain equal. The only way to counter this is to have a big enough team, a budget increase, etc.

 

9. Have I gathered enough feedback on my plans?

 

No matter how structured, thorough, and focused you have worked on your plan, you’re still only human.

A good mentality is to always assume there might be an opportunity or improvement you’ve missed. Ask your peers for feedback, sign up for marketing roundtables to pitch your theories, talk with people who you know typically have an opposite opinion from yours, etc. Get different perspectives. At the end of the day, it’s perfectly fine to keep your plan as is, but at least you’ve done your due diligence and gathered all the knowledge to base your decision on.

We also want to add that, if you seek advice from external consultants, take their view and advice with a pinch of salt if they haven’t had a thorough look at your company first. A good consultant will want to know quite a few things before forming an opinion, keep this in mind. BossData offers a free opportunity report: A neutral point-of-view assessment of your marketing plan. Request it here. [CTA]

 

10. What would happen if I don’t implement these plans?

 

A simple question, but one that you need to be able to answer. If not implementing your plans doesn’t really have much of an impact, are the plans worth executing at all? On the other hand, if not implementing has enormous consequences, your plans might not be overly realistic.

Think about it this way for a moment. You might not be able to answer this question with 100% clarity (unless you’re a fortune-teller) but see it as a fresh point of view to challenge yourself. Besides, there’s always the chance you get this question from your boss. Having somewhat of an answer in the chamber certainly won’t hurt his/her opinion of you.

11. How am I determining the success of my plan?

 

Simple: Always set your targets on the bottom-line level.

Let’s go back to our first question: What are your goals? Well, your main goal is to add to the overall business results.

If you’re a company that heavily relies on inbound lead generation, you have to understand that your company’s success is not determined by the number of leads you generate, not even by the number of marketing & sales qualified leads, but by done deals. You have to measure campaign success in revenue.

Even more so, you understand that revenue is one thing, but at the end of the day, your business is looking to make a profit. So your marketing team should also be accountable on that front. Monitoring and reporting not only the ins but the outs as well is a must because this way you’re speaking the language your boss speaks. A language that will lead to more trust in your capabilities and will open the door to getting things done faster. He or she will understand your efforts better and look at marketing as a revenue and profit post, instead of a “necessary evil” that turns money into attention. Demonstrate the power of a great digital marketing strategy as comprehensively as you can, to a point even your CEO wants in on the brainstorm for your next big marketing endeavor.