A Step-by-Step Guide to Year-Round Marketing Strategy
In today’s VUCA world (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) where innovations and technologies keep reshaping consumer behavior, the businesses must move strategically with a solid plan to survive and thrive in the highly competitive market. As the marketing of services and products attracts customers and revenue to the organization, it is a necessity to have a strong year-round marketing strategy. The article below will help you understand the important factors and steps one should keep in mind while planning a year-round marketing strategy.
Importance Of Year-Round Marketing Strategy
In today’s dynamic world we can’t predict the future and design every next step but walking around in any random direction without any purpose would be waste of time and resources. To avoid this wastage and make the process productive one should have at least a specified goal and roadmap to that goal.
If things go according to plan, it will fetch good wealth and even if it does not go according to plan, one would be closure to achieving that goal. Keeping this in mind, the majority of the organizations have annual or year-round planning for all of their department. And marketing is one of the most important as it attracts customers and profits to the organization.
An organization is as strong as its annual marketing plan! A year-round marketing strategy is a roadmap and the marketing goals to be achieved in the next 12 months, which has been designed by analyzing where the organization is now and where it wants to be in a year.
It defines the priorities, which are all the previous initiatives no longer align with the goals and should be shed, short-term and long-term expectations, and plan B and Plan C if plan A goes awry. With a clear, quantifiable, and realistic marketing strategy, an organization can continually achieve great success with all its advertising and sales efforts.
Benefits Of Year-Round Marketing Strategy
- Planning around the primary goals of your organization gives a target to follow
- Offers a bird’s eye view to align and prioritize the goals
- A solid strategy gives a roadmap to follow, making it easier to align with other departments
- Provides insightful data to improvise strategy
- Increases the productivity of activities and resources
- Identifies gaps and opportunities in the strategy
- A plan that can be measured, gives you a true scorecard
- A solid annual plan can save time and resources by keeping you from chasing shiny and unproductive things
Essential Factors Of A Year-Round Marketing Strategy
The annual marketing strategy should be crystal clear about what needs to be done to achieve the defined goals. The clearer the plan, the easier it is to understand and implement it successfully.
The marketing plan should focus on defined objectives and the current market situation to avoid concentrating on non-productive activities.
The predicted outcome of each task should be quantified to measure the performance of that activity. It helps to measure and improve the strategy for a better outcome.
Each of the goals should be realistic and achievable to avoid complications and maintain the team spirit to achieve the goal.
The annual marketing strategy should be agreed upon by all the stockholders as everyone need to commit to achieving the targets.
Steps Of Preparing A Year-Round Marketing Strategy
1. Review the previous year: Marketing performance and lessons learned
Before you start planning the coming year’s marketing strategy, you’ll want to take a close look at your current year’s performance. Below are some questions that you would like to ask to evaluate the performance of the current year’s strategy:
- Did you achieve the desired results from your efforts and strategy?
- Which specific activities were effective and efficient?
- Which specific activities were not effective and efficient?
- Should you consider the reallocation of the resources to better performing targets, markets, or marketing tactics?
- Has your target audience, market, or geography changed over the years?
- Were you able to stay within the budget at the end of the year?
- In what areas of marketing cost-cutting is required for the coming year?
- In what marketing areas are more investments required for the coming year?
- How did we perform against our competitors?
The answers to the questions above will help to understand what works for the organization and what does not and from this learning, a more improvised and productive marketing strategy can be designed.
2. Conduct Market Research And The Position Of Your Organization
The analysis of the current state of the overall market for your products and services, the position of competitors, the market performance of alternatives to your products, and where your brand stands within the market is necessary as they keep changing. Conducting a SWOT analysis of your organization and competitors is also necessary to understand the performance of each and the strategy being useful.
Market research helps predict the growth of your product’s market, alternative product’s market, and changes in the competitive landscape. One of the most important factors that should be kept in mind during the market analysis is the change in consumer behavior as it is the most volatile factor.
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3. Set The Marketing Goals For The Next Year
Articulation of goals is necessary as it provides a clear picture and all the interested parties are on the same page. For articulation, you need to evaluate your goals against the latest marketplace scenario. At the same time also have an understanding of the resources available and to what extent they can be improvised to achieve the realistic goals. After all these assessments you are good to go with finalizing the goals which align with the organization’s vision.
4. Evaluate Resources
The process of evaluating available resources and defining the yearly goals go hand in hand. Chasing the goals without having sufficient resources makes it unrealistic and in the long term it demotivates the team, on the other hand, having more than sufficient resources to achieve the yearly goals might lead to not being able to utilize the resources productively.
To avoid both of these situations evaluate the available resources such as money, employee skillset, loyal customer base, etc. It will also help to get a clear picture of to what extent your organization affords to take risks in the market.
5. Define The KPIs For The Year-Round Marketing Strategy
One of the benefits of creating a year-round marketing strategy is it allows reviewing and redefining the parameters and assumptions you are considering to measure the performance of your strategy. The Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) are mostly used to quantify the efficiency or productivity of the task performed.
Defining KPIs is also a critical task as they vary for every task performed based on the goals to be achieved through it and assuming the wrong KPIs may lead to a waste of efforts, time, and resources which are scares. Wrong KPIs may also demotivate the people putting effort to achieve the decided goals.
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6. Allocate Your Resources
Once the yearly goals are decided and the evaluation of resources is completed, the allocation of those resources to each task to be performed to achieve the goals becomes an important step. To allocate resources in a way that gives a good return on the investment, you need to be aware of the requirement of the number of employees, time to perform the task, the skillset for the task to be handled, and the amount of money required to pay external agencies is necessary.
7. Align The Goals
You can’t work upon all the goals at the same time and even if you manage to do you might end up getting less creative and less productive results. To avoid this scenario, align the goals according to resource availability, the working style of other departments, and changes in the market situation.
In today’s world only having the right product does not help to capture the market, you need to have the right product at the right time at the right place then only an organization can dominate the market and attract more customers. So, aligning goals by discussing all the parties involved is an important task.
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8. Define The Timeline For Each Goal
Time is the most important resource after money, and investing it wisely is important. Defining the timeline helps to ensure that goals are achieved without wasting any precious time. Without defining the timeline no matter how much better the product is, the team might end up spending more and more amount of time in the pursuit of perfection which is not productive.
But defining the timeline is not an easy task, one needs to understand the whole process and pace at which other involved team members work, and based on that the time distribution has to be done.
Assigning less amount of time might lead to poor quality of the product, which is also not productive. It is better recommended to understand the process and take the suggestion from the area head and then define the timeline for each task.
9. Design A Feedback Or Measurement Loop To Test And Learn From New Initiatives
Once the product or service is ready to launch or has been already launched, it is necessary to evaluate its performance to understand its relevance of it in the market and customer experience. This process of evaluation is called feedback or measurement loop. It helps to find out the gaps between the current product and customers’ expectations of it.
Getting to know the gaps and bridging them with proper solutions will help to improvise customer satisfaction which will lead to attracting more customers and revenue. This feedback loop should be conducted frequently to improvise the quality and increase the life cycle of the product or service.
10. Kick It Off In A Right Way
Having a perfect marketing strategy is not enough, you have to also start it at the right time in the right way. Before starting to work on the new strategy, you need to ensure that all the team members are on the same page and are having the same vision which should be aligned with the organization’s goals.
Conduct a meeting and present the strategy in a way that everyone shares the same vision as yours and get motivated to put effort into achieving those goals. Also, try to arrange an event before starting a new project and at the launching of a new product to rejuvenate and excite the whole team.
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The 7 Ps
Once the annual marketing strategy has been designed the 7Ps formula can be used to improve customer satisfaction and brand value. The 7Ps include Product, Price, Promotion, Place, People, Process, and Physical evidence. These seven factors should be understood individually as each of them plays an important role in product success.
To get a better understanding of each of the factors you can try to answer each of the following questions, It will help you and your team to find the right solution for each of the problems and define a proper roadmap.
How to make our products and services better to enhance customer satisfaction?
How to change our current pricing model to attract new customers and retain the old ones?
What are the types of promotional activities we can use to spread awareness of our products and services?
Which are the distribution channels that can be used to make it easier for the customer to access our products or services? It can be online platforms, e-commerce, mobile application, brick-and-mortar store, etc.
Do we have the people with the right skillsets in our team to ensure excellent customer service? If not should we hire new people with the required skillsets or should we train the existing team members?
How do improvise and make internal processes easier in a way which guarantees to enhance the brand value and ease to do business?
- Physical evidence
What are the ways through which we can reassure our customers about our products and services?
Disadvantages Of Year-Round Marketing Strategy
- It can lead to wrong marketing decisions if the data isn’t analyzed properly
- Incorrect interpretation of the information might lead to unrealistic financial projection
- Sometimes it impedes flexibility which leads to opportunity cost
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
1. Is creating a year-round marketing strategy relevant in today’s world?
As we mentioned earlier that having a plan for the future is necessary in this VUCA world to win the market. Having an annual marketing strategy exactly fulfills that requirement. It helps to set up the goals, a roadmap to those goals, and a basic idea of factors that will play a role while chasing those goals. The whole process of creating a marketing strategy provides us with information to predict future changes and time to time to prepare ourselves to be able to lead even in times of uncertainty. Today’s dynamic world is all about being one step ahead of our competitors and that can be only done by planning for the future by predicting it from the data available which makes the year-round marketing strategy more relevant in today’s world.
2. Who all should be involved in designing the marketing strategy?
To design a digital marketing strategy, you need to have knowledge and expertise in all the areas of an organization but as it is not possible to have all the knowledge and expertise in one person you should make a team of area heads or experts to ask their advice or opinion to make a more productive marketing strategy. Must ensure that the team is as small as possible, as more opinions might lead to chaos and doubts. All the team members should be also accountable to ensure that the details related to marketing strategy remains within the inner circle to avoid getting into the competitors’ ears.
3. Is it possible to change the marketing strategy in between the year?
No matter how much time and effort you give in the preparation of a plan it can never be perfect, it can be close to perfect but never be perfect. There are lots of factors that are volatile and assumed during the strategy preparation and many times it happens that this changes during the implementation phase and sometimes creates an adverse situation. To avoid such situations and losses to the organization you should keep updating the marketing strategy to absorb the shocks the thrive in the dynamic market.
4. Is the annual marketing strategy useful for both B2B and B2C markets?
Today both B2B and B2C market segments are dynamic and to stay competitive in the market you need to be strategic. So yes, the annual marketing strategy is useful for both B2B and markets. Factors that are being considered to design the strategy might vary as both the markets are having different sets of customer bases and product relevance.
It can be said that the year-round marketing strategy can’t be ignored at any cost as it plays a critical role in an organization’s success. Having a good amount of knowledge of product and organization along with strategic decision-making skills can make the process easier as it involves working with people from the different departments of an organization. Following the steps mentioned in this article will help you to design an annual planning strategy without hustling a lot. As the article comes to an end, I hope that it was able to provide you with sufficient understanding to design your annual marketing strategy.