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When it comes to marketing resolutions

21st August 2017

September…the new January

When it comes to marketing resolutions, September seems to mark the start of the ‘new year’. Enquiries and requests for marketing advice invariably increase immediately after the summer holidays. Perhaps relaxing by the pool encourages the plotting of new initiatives designed to boost sales in the last part of the year.

Whatever the reason, there’s logic in devoting time to planning your marketing whilst you’re relaxing – although there’s value in doing so at any time of the year. So, if you’re thinking of using your vacation to consider your marketing activity, here are a few pointers…

  1. Don’t be over-ambitious

Of course, you need a plan of what you’re going to do, but don’t be too ambitious. One of the major reasons for the failure to successfully implement a marketing plan is trying to do too much. For many SMEs, marketing work has to be done by people who also have other responsibilities, including client-facing work. Even if you intend using an external specialist agency, you need to devote time to briefing, providing input and approving any work. So, only plan to do what you can be sure you can achieve. Over-promising and under-delivering is demotivating for you and your staff.

  1. Focus first on what needs doing

Most marketing can be classified as essential (branding, website, corporate stationery, client communication) or promotional (advertising, direct mail, social media). This is a very crude classification, but it highlights the point that you must do a number of things, even on a minimal basis, to a good standard. For example, you need an up-to-date, professional website. Whilst you can build on this to help attract more clients, in the short-term you at least need a site that will reassure existing and potential clients of your professionalism and trustworthiness. So, it’s an essential.

Promotional activity on the other hand may not be an essential right now, especially if you’ve already got a good flow of new leads. So, when you’re considering what to include on your marketing plan, the first things to be addressed should be those essential elements that aren’t as good or as professional as they should be. There’s little point in undertaking lots of promotional activity if the foundations aren’t in place to support it. If you’re happy that they are, turn your attention to promotional activity.

  1. Set objectives

Decide the purpose of each item on your plan and why you’re doing it. ‘Because we’ve always done it’ isn’t a good enough reason (this is often cited when, for example, considering sponsoring a local club or advertising in a county publication). Not everything will be designed to generate leads. You may develop a new client communication programme intended to maximise retention and increase cross-sell opportunities. Don’t try to do many things with one item or campaign – it’s better to be focused on one clear objective.

If you are seeking to generate new enquiries, agree a target number (this will be difficult!).

  1. Choose wisely

It’s been said that marketing activity can involve spending a lot of money and a little time, or spending little money and a lot of time. Advertising, for example, can be expensive but generally takes up little management time. Networking on the other hand, is very time-consuming but generally inexpensive or even free.

If you don’t have the time or inclination to network, advertising may seem an attractive option. Both approaches have their place, but you need to choose based on whether they engage with the audience you are targeting and if you believe they will work and provide value for money.

  1. Monitor the results

Make sure that everyone in the firm knows about any new initiatives and understands the importance of recording any results. Even digital marketing, which allows for much better tracking of responses and enquiries, generally requires there to be some human involvement – for example, staff asking those who call where they heard of you and what prompted them to contact you etc.

Record any results, both statistical and anecdotal. It’s also worth understanding what is a reasonable amount to spend per new enquiry or per sale. This will vary from firm to firm and will depend on a number of factors, such as your conversion ratio and average sale value or better still – if you know it – the lifetime value of each client.


By Mike Johnstone

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