Pulling together your marketing strategy for 2019

2018 is fast coming to a close…can you believe it? If you haven’t already started to think about it, now is the time to be planning what you’re going to do with your business next year. It’s also a time to look back on what has happened this year – what worked well, what didn’t. So, before Christmas is here, it’s time to take stock, get your thinking cap on and decide what you want your business to achieve next year.

OK, what’s first?

The Seven Ps

If you haven’t already got a mission or vision statement, now is the time to write one. A mission/vision statement is just a couple of sentences stating what your business is, who you’re selling to (your target market), what you’re selling and what makes you stand out from the crowd. Once you have this, you can start working on how to market your business…to help me focus on every aspect of my business, I use the seven Ps…

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  1. Product(s) – what is it about your product that makes your customers want to buy it? Do you need to change your products in any way to meet your customers’ needs?
  2. Pricing – how do you aim to compete with your competitor’s pricing? Do you want to match it… undercut them… or do you want to charge more for a more quality product and service?
  3. Place– where and how are you going to sell your products? Do you sell them yourself or outsource them to retail outlets?
  4. Promotion– how are you going to let your existing and potential customers know about your products? This includes thinking about advertising, PR, direct mail and personal selling.
  5. People – this refers to who works for your business, including yourself! Do you create the right impression and provide excellent customer service, so your customers have a good customer experience? I’m sure you do, but never forget to keep learning, training yourself and any employees to develop relevant skills to deliver your brand and excellent customer service.
  6. Process – this includes the processes involved in delivering your products to your customers. Are you easy to do business with? Is it easy for customers to find your products? If you have a website, is it easy to navigate? Are your contact details prominent, so you are easy to contact?
  7. present-2891870_640Physical – everything your customers see and feel when interacting with your business. This can be from the physical environment of your shops, office or wherever you provide and showcase your products or services, to meeting you face to face and how you come across to them, how you act and relate to your customers. It also includes your packaging and your branding.

Set your objectives

Now you can plan the future of your business. What objectives do you want to achieve? Get yourself a cup of tea or coffee and sit down with your laptop, tablet or good old pen and paper, so you can write each one down.

Each objective should include a description of what you intend to achieve, a goal if you like, and should include numbers to aim for. For example you might want to sell more of February-Stok-Photoa particular product, but just saying you want to sell more isn’t enough – you need to be specific, so you have something concrete to aim for. For example, say you have a crafting business and you make rag dolls. An objective might be to sell 40% more rag dolls in 2019, than you did in 2018. This gives you a solid and specific objective.

Don’t be tempted to write a long, long list of goals or objectives – aim for a maximum of five to six or you will find it all overwhelming and you won’t achieve any of them. As you achieve each objective throughout the year, you can add more then.

beard-2286440_640Once you have your list of objectives, put them into a timeline – what you want to achieve and by when. This makes it much easier for you to review at a later date. I usually put a date in my diary at the beginning of the year to review my business objectives every three months…of course, I’m not always brilliant at keeping to that date, but by having it in my diary, at least it’s a reminder and I do review things…even if it’s a couple of weeks after the date I originally set!

How will you achieve your objectives?

Now, go through each objective in turn – you already know what you want to achieve and when you want to achieve it by. Next on the list is how you are going to achieve each of those objectives. Let’s go back to that earlier example – you want to sell 40% more rag doll-1043499_640dolls over the next 12 months. You know what you want to do – you know when you want that result. How are you going to sell that extra 40%? These could be some of your options…

  • Get your rag dolls into a retail outlet, café or craft shop
  • Start selling your dolls at a local craft market or at craft fayres
  • Start an online shop on Etsy or Ebay
  • Sell the dolls using party plan – people have an evening at their own home and invite their friends. You show the dolls and potential customers get to see them, touch them and hopefully put in an order

Put all your objectives, what you want to achieve, your timescale and how you’re going to do it into your timeline. This makes it easier for you to see at a glance what your business and marketing plan is for next year for each of your objectives. It also makes it easier for you to review at a later date.

Measure your success

tape-measure-1186496_640The last thing on your list is how will you measure the success of each of your objectives? Sticking with the rag doll example, this is an easy one – each quarter, measure how many more dolls you have sold compared to the same time last year. To achieve your 40% increase over the course of the year, you need to see a steady increase in sales from the new selling strategies you’ve put in place.

I hope this has helped you to start planning your business and marketing strategy for 2019.

If you would like to receive a free Goal Setting Timeline template, please fill in your name and email below and I’ll be happy to send it to you…Happy Planning!

Down-time, down tools and review!

Down-time, down tools and review!It’s September already and it never ceases to amaze me how quickly time seems to pass. When I was a kid and it was the summer holidays, they seemed to go on forever…nowadays the year seems to pass quicker than those summer holidays! Must be an age thing!

Well, when September arrives, I know that it’s time to kick myself up the rear end and take a good look at how the businesses that my partner and I have. For me it’s thinking about what I’ve done so far and how I can kick-start things for the rest of the year. If possible, it’s also good to have some down-time too. Unfortunately, as my partner’s business is hosting music events and gigging, he is still very busy – add into the mix that my son and his partner have just had their second child and my daughter is about to have her first, it looks like a holiday away together is very unlikely. I will be going over to see the new arrivals.

rear-mirror-2480510_640Anyway, I digress! Whilst I’m waiting for the second baby to arrive, I will be reviewing both our businesses. This time of year is perfect for doing this for everyone…you’re coming to the end of the summer season and, dare I say it, Christmas will be fast approaching, so now is the time to look at the business plan you did at the beginning of the year. If you’ve been very efficient, you may have already reviewed it once or twice already. So, are you on track to do the things you wanted to do? If not, what are the reasons? It could be that some of the goals you set yourself are too big, so you could cut some of them down into sizable and achievable chunks. Maybe the goals you set were too adventurous…in which case, you could put one or two on the back burner for next year…of course, you might just need to push yourself that little bit harder to achieve them. It’s totally up to you how you approach goals that have not yet been reached.

Take a look at what you have achieved and be proud! What went well and what didn’t go so well? Make notes of what to avoid next year.

head-1345064_640Now is also the time to plan for the rest of the year – what are you going to do on Social Media? What blogs are you planning to write? Make a list and try and stick to the schedule. Do you have any events coming up, such as networking events, markets, craft fayres etc? If you do, plan how you can be more efficient and get more sales or meet more people.

If you have website, put yourself in your customers’ shoes and look at it objectively. Is it easy to navigate? Can you find the ‘contact’ details? Are the terms and conditions up to date and easy to understand? Do all the links work? You could review your ‘About’ or ‘Home’ pages, update the information and add a new profile picture. If you sell products online, are all the products current? Are old products still showing…do they need to be deleted?

At this time of year, it’s a good idea to ask current customers for some feedback, so you have new recommendations in the run up to the end of the year.

Is there anything you’d like to do as a push leading up to Christmas, such as a competition or incentive for customers? Now is the time to plan this.

What are you competitors doing? Are they doing something you could use to improve your business?

puzzle-210784_640Finally, we all like to learn new things, so make sure you are up to date with the latest news and technology – is there a social media site you’d like to learn more about? There are lots of free courses online so take advantage of them and learn something new to help your company progress. If you don’t have time to do this or learn new things this year, put them into plan, so you add them into your business plan for next year.

If you have any useful hints or tips to help with reviewing your business, please let me know in the comments – I’d be interested to hear from you. Happy reviewing!

Does Goal Setting leave you feeling lost?

FREE Goal Setting checklist and template

If you have your own business, your business goals for next year should already be set, so you’re ready to make a good start after the Christmas holiday. If you haven’t set your business goals yet, then why not take up my offer of a free checklist to help you – complete the request at the bottom of this page

A goal without a plan is just a wish

Every January, I set myself resolutions – the usual kind of thing, lose weight; get fitter.

paper-3042645_640I’m ashamed to say that by the end of January, I’ve forgotten all about the resolutions…I’m still aware that I want to do the things I resolved to do, but life gets in the way. However with business, you can’t afford to be so blasé – a planned business with structured goals will always be more successful, and reviewing your plans on a regular basis gives you the chance to pick up on anything that is going wrong at an earlier stage.

So where do you start? There are 4 areas to think about….

What is your Mission Statement?

This is a statement that includes what your business is, who you’re selling to, what you’re selling and what is your unique selling proposition that makes you stand out from the crowd?

For example, if you run a dog sitting service in your own home, you might say…

“All dogs in our care live in our house in a safe and secure environment, and are treated as part of our family. We are happy to administer any medication and provide a loving and attentive service to your much loved pet.”

What are your business goals?

Think about where you want your business to be by this time next year. By which percentage do you wish to grow and how many customers do you expect to have? Make sure you have at least one goal that relates to your mission statement and one that links to the financial position of your business.

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Goals need to be SMART….

Specific – for example, my New Year’s Resolution, “I want to get fitter.” This is too vague. Being more specific, I should say, “I will join a gym and go three times a week.”

Measurable – You need to be able to measure your goals – for example, you might want to increase your sales by 25% by this time next year. How would you measure this throughout the year to ensure you are on track? You could break down sales, so you know how many sales you need to make every month to make this happen.

Attainable – goals need to be achievable, so don’t set the bar ridiculously high, such as Del boy in ‘Only Fools and Horses’ – “This time next year, we’ll be millionaires.”

Realistic – in the same way as goals needing to be achievable, they also need to be realistic. You must be both willing and able to work towards them. Only you can decide what is achievable and realistic for you and your business.

Timely – it’s sensible to put a time-frame on each of your goals – this keeps you focused. If you don’t have a time-frame, there is no sense of urgency and you can keep putting off doing anything ‘until tomorrow’…and we all know that tomorrow never comes!

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What are your business strategies?

Strategies are all about what are you going to do to achieve your goals.

Think about the four Ps…

Product(s) – what is it about your product that makes your customers want to buy it? Do you need to change your products in any way to meet your customers’ needs?

Pricing – how do you aim to compete with your competitor’s pricing – do you want to match it… undercut them… or do you want to charge more for a more quality product and service?

Place – where and how are you going to sell your products? Do you sell them yourself or outsource them to retail outlets?

Promotion – how are you going to let your existing and potential customers know about your products? This includes thinking about advertising, PR, direct mail and personal selling.

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What action do you need to take to achieve your goals?

How are you going to achieve your goals? If we take the ‘I want to increase my sales by 25%’ scenario, how will you do that? You might decide to launch a new, attractive product…you might give a discount if customers spend over a set amount, or do a ‘Buy one, get one free’ offer for a specific week.

Another scenario might be that you want to re-brand your business to make you stand out from your competitors. This will have a financial implication, so that needs to be in the action plan – your goal would be to re-brand, your action would be around how you will afford to do that – how many products would you need to sell, for example, to cover the cost?

Once you have decided the action(s) for achieving each goal, you need to know how you can measure the success of each action. Measurement is very important as it gives you an insight into what works well for your business and what doesn’t.

If you plan ahead, you stand a much better chance of succeeding. So, give a little time to setting your goals and sorting out how you are going to achieve them.

To obtain your free checklist and template for goal setting, please fill the form below and press submit.