Jeanne M. Buddingh
'Tis the season for office parties, holiday celebrations and other festivities. As the year draws to a close take some time to give your business the gift of reflection. Between get-togethers and toasts take some time to review your company’s marketing program in 2013. Did you accomplish what you set out to with your marketing plans? Did you face any obstacles? Did your programs pay off the way you’d hoped?
Gather your team together to review your company's marketing campaigns, materials and online presence - including your website and any social media platforms you have a presence on. Analyze both the marketing initiatives you completed and the ones that were never realized. Decide whether or not you want to continue your successful campaigns in 2014, and whether or not you can make any improvements.
Determine why your other initiatives failed. One of the most important questions to ask yourself is whether or not the idea was researched properly before it began. Success is more often a result of thorough research and intelligent decision-making than flashy graphics and fancy words. If there are items on your list that you ran out of time or money for, consider making them a higher priority this year - if your research determines you should do so.
Maintaining brand consistency can tie all of your marketing materials and programs together. Evaluate your current materials for consistency between pieces and campaigns. Do they clearly position your brand as the one to address your prospect's needs? Make sure the materials represent your business well, and are professional looking and accurate. Ultimately each piece needs to be accomplishing the goal it was designed for: elevating your brand.
The average consumer is spending more and more time online, make sure that your company is a part of that experience. Your brand consistency should carry over to your internet presence. Take time out to ensure that the look of your website is consistent with other marketing materials. Navigate the site with a fresh set of eyes, like a client or potential client would. Does the site flow and easily lead visitors to the most important information?
Then, view your site on a mobile device - is the site still easy to navigate? If not, 2014 may be the year for your small business to create a mobile site or take advantage of new technology and consider updating to a responsive design website. Responsive Web Design is a new website format that 'responds' to whatever device the site is being viewed on - reformatting your site from computer to tablet to smartphone. The one size fits all solution makes sure your website adapts to every screen it is seen on.
You want to make sure your brand has a presence everywhere your clients are spending time. That means that if your clientele are active on social media, you need to look at your online presence and be sure you are communicating effectively with them.
One of the most straightforward ways to determine how customers felt about your marketing programs is to ask them. A good year-end strategy for determining marketing success is sending your customers a customer satisfaction survey asking for their feedback on items such as products, features, promotions and customer service. (A coupon or some other type of reward can be a good motivator for survey completion, and bringing customers back to your company.) Surveys are also a great way to gather new testimonials to use on your 2014 marketing initiatives.
Reviewing your marketing programs for the past year is an important step in planning your initiatives for next year. Invest in your success in 2014 by taking the time to review what you have done in the past year. If you would like assistance reviewing your 2013 marketing plan or researching initiatives for 2014, please contact us atwww.BuddinghAssociates.com.
Jeanne M. Buddingh is founder and partner in Buddingh & Associates, Inc., an award-winning strategic marketing consulting firm in Naperville, IL. Contact her at (630) 961-4504 or visit www.BuddinghAssociates.com.