This article was written by Lauren Tilden, Director of Marketing at GreenBook.
Editor’s Note: This was written at the start of 2017 with the goal of helping insights marketers set up their marketing plans for 2017. But our advice applies no matter when you sit down to plan for the future, so we’ve included it here.
If you’re like us, you’re thinking a lot right now about wrapping up 2016 and laying the groundwork for an even better 2017. We’re looking back at the past 12 months and reflecting on what went well, and what could go better next year. And we’re thinking about all of the new ideas, campaigns and initiatives we want to implement in 2017.
As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail (Alan Lakein). The best way to ensure that your 2017 is your best year as a marketer yet is to explicitly articulate your goals and lay out the steps you will take to get there.
To help with this process, I thought I’d share the process that we are currently using to determine our marketing plan for 2017. I’ve adapted it slightly to be more relevant to an insights marketer.
One more thing: This type of work isn’t easy and requires a lot of quiet reflection and uninterrupted time. If you can, I suggest you clear as much time as possible from your calendar, get out of your office, put your phone on silent, and create your own marketing planning retreat.
Without further ado, here are 4 steps you can to level up your marketing in 2017.
ONE: Do a year in review. This is the time to really think hard about 2016 – the good, the bad, and the ugly, and see what we can learn in the future. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about 2016:
- What are you proud of? Make a list of all of your wins, large and small.
- What do you want to do better in 2017? What mistakes did you make in 2016, and what can you learn from them?
- What marketing accomplishment in 2017 would you be most proud of this time next year?
TWO: Think broadly about what you want to create & where you want to be seen. This is the time of year to think about how you want to show up in the industry in 2017. Some categories to start thinking about to get you started:
If you’ve read some of our previous Better Marketing articles, you know we’re big fans of content marketing. How better to show prospects and clients what you’re made of than to provide value to them?
Here are some types of content you might want to think about developing to support your marketing objectives in 2017:
- Blog posts
- White papers
- Guest blog posts or articles
- Custom research on topics relevant to your audience
- Webinars that teach your audience something
In our industry, events are a very important way that research buyers find new research partners (watch this panel discussion from a recent IMD event for great evidence of this). If events are part of your marketing strategy, think about where you want to be seen in 2017. When it comes to events, the early bird gets…. basically everything. Start making a list of the events you’d like to participate in, and the important dates associated with each. For example, if you want to speak, find out when the call for speakers closes. If you plan to sponsor, collect all of the sponsorship kits and find out when they usually sell out. If you want to join as an attendee, make a list of the early bird deadlines, and make sure you join the email list for each conference organizer so you have access to their best registration deals.
Advertising & Paid Marketing Opportunities
If you have the budget to devote to paid marketing opportunities, there are many ways to get your brand in front of an even greater audience through advertising, directory listings, sponsored content like webinar programs, event sponsorships, and more. I’d suggest starting by thinking about where your audience is: what events to they attend, what publications do they read, what newsletters do they subscribe to? Asking yourself these kinds of questions about your ideal customer will help you understand the best places to allocate your budget. (If you’d like to learn more about how GreenBook can help support your marketing objectives, let me know!)
THREE: Set some SMART goals. After you’ve looked at your year in review, made a list of what you’d broadly like to do and where you’d like to be seen, it’s time to set some goals for 2017.
Goal setting is something that not everyone gets right. One way to set goals that you’re likely to meet is to set SMART goals – (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound).
I’m using an awesome free worksheet to create some SMART marketing goals for 2017, which I want to share. Check out this download from Little Bird Marketing (we like them so much we’ve had them speak at TWO recent IMD events). Download it for free here.
Some goals you might have:
- Social media: Increasing inbound leads generated via each social media channel
- Number of blog posts you’ll post each month
- Email performance: Percentage increase in your email open rate or click through rate
- Website performance: Increasing inbound leads from website X%
- Set a number of guest blog posts or articles you’d like to get posted
- Set a target number of conferences you would like your company to speak at
- Set a number of eBooks you’d like to release in the next year
One more thing about goals: make sure you see them EVERY DAY. Make them into an image and make them the background to your work computer, put them in the front of your planner, tape them to the wall in your office, or write them on a whiteboard that you see every day. It really helps keep you focused on activities that directly move you toward your goals.
FOUR: Do some top-line planning (activities & promotional calendar). Now that you’ve reflected on your marketing from 2016, done a bit of brainstorming, and set some SMART goals, it’s time to organize all of this into a plan. In my experience, a plan only works when each “to do” gets scheduled on my calendar with a specific day and time. The two calendars I suggest you start creating now are: an activities calendar and a promotional calendar.
First, create your activities calendar. Your activities calendar is a log of every important event or milestone that is happening at your company that is relevant to your audience. To come up with this calendar, think about anything that you might want to share with your audience:
- When are you launching new products or initiatives?
- What events will you be at, especially as a sponsor or speaker?
- Do you have launch dates for publishing any reports, eBooks or other content?
- Are you hosting any client events, dinners, or road shows?
- Do you send out any special messages for certain holidays? Do you celebrate your company’s birthday? If so, you’d want to add those in.
Once you’ve created a draft of your activities calendar, you can move on to creating an promotional calendar. A promotional calendar describes all of the ways that you will share your activities with your audience, through email, social media, blog posts, and any other mediums you use to communicate with your audience. It is the result of scheduling every outbound message that you would like to send.
I suggest that you start with a template to build your promotional calendar and adapt it to suit your needs. Here are some great places to start:
- This fantastic social media content calendar templatefrom Hubspot is very comprehensive and can be easily customized. I would suggest adding a tab and a section on the legend about email to make this just about perfect!
- Here’s a sample from Hootsuite that will prompt you to keep your social media feeds varied and not overly self-promotional.
- Using Trello for organizing your content calendar. Here’s a great blog post by Priscilla McKinney of Little Bird Marketing that provides a great framework for using Trello to manage your content calendar.
If you do a lot of your own content production and are looking for a template to manage your blog, you may want to also set up an editorial calendar. Here are a few templates you might find helpful: Content Marketing Institute | Bob Angus | Hubspot.
And that’s that! I hope that you find these steps helpful as you think about how to spend your time and resources on marketing in 2017.