As decorators and business owners close out the last few months of the year, the thought of 2019 is hovering. Maybe you’re looking to ramp up your marketing calendar for next year or just want to make sure your current marketing calendar is in line with expert opinion. Printwear chatted with Olivia Dean and Alice Wolf of Madeira, as well as Vince DiCecco, Your Personal Business Trainer, about building out a 2019 marketing plan. Here are some of your major marketing questions answered.
Q: When should a business start thinking about and planning for 2019 marketing efforts?
Your 2019 Marketing Plan should be completed no later than the end of November. When to begin planning depends on how long it will take you to complete/update your plan. If you didn’t have one for 2018, it would likely take you longer than if all you need to do is update the plan. Regardless, you should review your marketing expenditures for the most recent 12 months and express each line item as a percentage of gross sales. That way, when you project what you hope 2019 sales will be, you’ll have a starting point as to how much you can afford to spend on marketing.
— Vince DiCecco, Your Personal Business Trainer
It is best to plan ahead and be flexible when necessary as things come up. Whether you plan a few months ahead, quarter by quarter, or for the entire year, be sure that you are keeping up on your next move in order to have sufficient inventory, communicate plans with others, and avoid rush charges.
— Olivia Dean, Madeira
Q: What months offer high marketing potential? Why?
I suggest spending marketing dollars three to six months before you expect to realize sales from your promotional efforts. If a business has been in operation for more than a year, an analysis of sales by month should give you some indication of seasonality in your marketplace. There’s little need to over-market during your predictably busiest months because if you have customers and prospects placing additional orders when your equipment is already at 100 percent capacity, you are toying with creating dissatisfied buyers by not being able to complete jobs on time.
— Vince DiCecco
The months of November and December at the end of each year can be looked at for high marketing potential. Gifting, generosity, and completing a year all play into a marketer’s need for promoting sales. Also, the months preceding back to school—July, August, and September—offer opportunities to promote sales for uniforms, sports jerseys, and other branded items. Regional opportunities, based on specific locations in the U.S. and the tourism they support will also offer seasonal sales growth potential.
— Alice Wolf, Madeira
Q: How can businesses strategize when building out and employing their 2019 marketing calendar?
With any marketing plan, the "7 Ps" of marketing should be addressed. The seven Ps are price, product, promotion, placement, people, proof, and process. Price components of a marketing plan address when to announce price adjustments and how much of a price increase/decrease you will be asking for. It also highlights the price setting strategies you must employ to attain your gross profit margin goals. Product has to do with where in the lifecycle your product lines fall and when you introduce new products. Promotion involves having a calendar that outlines what sales will be offered in which months and for what reason. There should be a logical reason for a particular promotional offer—e.g., a sale on family reunion shirts and sundries during the month(s) most of your clientele have their reunions. Placement is about channels of distribution and how customers can buy your goods and services. If you are setting up an e-commerce web store for the first time or opening up a second location next year, this section should be longer, well-developed, and more detailed. People suggests who and possibly how many people will be accountable for executing the marketing plan. Do these people need training or additional resources to be successful? Proof involves updating your brag book (aka portfolio of testimonials) and developing other collateral materials, such as case studies and success stories. Finally, process is about how your entire plan will be put into action—who will do what, what criterion should be met to deem the plan successful, and what milestone dates should be hit for each marketing campaign/effort.
— Vince DiCecco
Consider these three important tasks to strategize properly:
- Look back at past promotions and try to build upon what you know has worked for you.
- Create a rollout schedule for any new products you plan to introduce.
- Keep in mind the events you are attending or hosting and build editorial content/promotional pieces around them to get your customers excited and engaged. Think industry trade shows, training, seminars, and webinars.
— Olivia Dean
Q: Where does social media come into play?
Social media, if used at all, should be an ongoing and steady effort. Always remember, social media is just the vehicle by which you are conveying your message to your target audience. The message and intended recipient of your marketing message are far more important than how it is delivered. Fine tuning those two components and how your message will catch the attention of your desired clientele is a no-brainer of a decision.
— Vince DiCecco
Having a social presence today is crucial. Think about how often you would like to post and what kind of content you would like to share. Different platforms require different presentation and delivery, but that does not necessarily mean more work for you. Once you have your copy and imagery in mind, you can edit it based on where it will be shared.
— Olivia Dean
Q: What tools can businesses use to make sure they’re staying on track each month?
Refer to the marketing plan. Once developed, written, approved, and committed to, this should often be all the tools you’ll need to stay on track. A well-written marketing plan doesn’t have to be a doctoral thesis or epic novel. It should be written in plain English and include a lot of numbers and dates. Establish a dashboard with chosen metrics and KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) to compare aspects of the plan against the actual numbers that are attained. Don’t be afraid to adjust the marketing plan occasionally, but don’t do this too often. Have at least one-quarter of the data to analyze before making big changes to the seven Ps. Who knows? You may find out you were way too conservative in your growth and sales goals and the marketing plan is actually holding you back. Utilizing SMART goals is not a bad idea either.
— Vince DiCecco
Keep an organized calendar or running list of what you plan to accomplish each month. Mapping out your efforts will allow you to lock in dates for your marketing efforts and create a record of what you have already done. Having this to look back on will help with the timing of recycling or creating new content and give a record of what worked well and when. There are also many online scheduling services that make it easy for one person or a whole team to publish content to each of your social platforms from one place. Check out services like Sprout Social, Hootsuite, and Asana. Be sure to do some research first and maybe do a test run before you choose which one is right for you.
— Olivia Dean
Now, go tackle 2019!