Mid-Year Checkup: How Healthy is Your Small Business Marketing Plan?

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Hard to believe we’re half way through 2014. Summer schedules are just around the corner, but that doesn’t mean we should get lazy when it comes to our marketing plans, right? In fact, now is the time to perform a mid-year checkup. Here’s how to evaluate where you’re at.
1. Have you been sticking to your plan? Answer honestly. If the answer is yes, congrats. Move on to the next point. If your answer is no, then ask yourself these questions:

  • When did things begin to fall apart? Right away in January, or did it happen gradually?
  • Why haven’t you been sticking to your plan? Because of time? Money? Lack of interest? A combination of all three?
  • Is the plan too aggressive?

Remember, the key to marketing is consistency. You don’t need to do everything under the sun at once, but you should develop certain strategies/programs and be consistent in your approach (such as sending out a monthly email newsletter).

If the plan is too aggressive and/or you’ve lost interest, scale back the plan. Pare it down to the items you’re willing to commit to. Remember, you do need to re-engage with the plan. This means focusing on a handful of things each week/month that you enjoy doing (or that you at least don’t hate). Once you get in the groove, you can then slowly add in other initiatives.

If the issue is a lack of time, is it because you’re too busy with new work (a good problem to have)? Or is it because you’re spread too thin or you’re not managing your time as well as you should? Here are some strategies for dealing with these situations:

  • If you’re suddenly dealing with an influx of work, then seriously consider outsourcing some of your marketing. Your marketing should not stop when you’re busy!
  • If you’re spread too thin, do the same thing we suggested above about scaling back the plan to something manageable.
  • If it’s a time management issue, consider working with a business coach to get a handle on things or outsourcing some of the work so that the plan doesn’t fall apart again.

2. Measure results against the goals you set at the beginning of the year. If you’ve been consistent with your plan, then at the end of this month, you should have six months’ worth of data to review. Here’s the thing you need to remember about analytics and data: it’s easy to get lost in the numbers (from a time perspective), and if parsing analytics isn’t your specialty, then you should hand the info over to someone who specializes in understanding what the data in places like Google Analytics is telling you.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need to do a “deep dive” into the analytics at this time. You can certainly take a higher-level view and look at things like…

  • Website conversions. Is the number where you want it to be? If yes, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, how far off is the number? This is where you might need to make some “gut” calls. The numbers might be off for any number of reasons that have nothing to do with your marketing plan. What you should ask yourself is if there’s anything you can do marketing-wise that might be able to help boost the numbers for the second half of the year, such as creating a new offer, adding new call-to-action buttons on the site, running ads on Facebook, etc.
  • Customer engagement with your communications. Look at click-through-rates on newsletters and blog posts, likes on Facebook, re-tweets on Twitter, and so forth. Are people engaging with your brand in the way you had hoped? If yes, again, keep doing what you’re doing. If not, what tweaks/adjustments might you try for the next six months to increase engagement?
  • Sales, sales, sales. Obviously, at the end of the day, this is the only number that matters for the majority of small businesses. While you could always be making more sales, how are the numbers? Did the actual sales match projections? If sales are way off, that doesn’t mean it’s the marketing plan’s fault, but it’s important for marketing and sales to talk to each other, which brings us to our next point.

3. Set up a meeting with sales and marketing. Too often, these departments are pitted against each other. That should never happen. The goals are the same, and the two departments should work in harmony with one another, sharing data and feedback. So the tone of this meeting should be supportive and friendly. Discuss what’s been working and address what hasn’t been working. Agree on any changes/tweaks moving forward for the next six months. Here’s an interesting article that unveils what your sales department really wants from marketing (besides qualified leads).

4. Get feedback outside of your marketing and sales department. Talk to other people in your organization and see what they have to say about your marketing efforts. Think of customer service, receptionists, and people in the business department. Ask this question: “What do you remember from the last six months about what our company has been doing to promote itself and engage with customers?” See what they remember, what stood out to them, and what feedback they heard from clients/customers.

Yes, this is an informal survey and you shouldn’t drastically change direction based on this feedback, but listen for any consistent themes, both good and bad.

5. Relax. Your marketing plan is—and should be—fluid. A marketing plan is a living and breathing document that you can easily adjust and adapt based on myriad factors. It will never be “done” and there’s always something else you can do. As we mentioned above, the key is to be consistent, and to continue marketing, even when things are busy, and even when you don’t feel like doing it.

What are some things you look for when you’re evaluating your marketing plan? Share in the comments.

Chris Wallace

About Chris Wallace

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This entry was posted in Small Business Marketing, Small Business Resource and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Mid-Year Checkup: How Healthy is Your Small Business Marketing Plan?

  1. Nice article, Chris. In addition to the obvious stuff, don’t forget customer reviews and personal referrals. We make it easy and affordable to manage both in a very unique way. refgo.com for any of your readers who might be interested.

    Malcolm Lewis
    RefGo Founder/CEO

  2. Karl Ruegg says:

    Thanks Chris! Gret article!
    It’s sad that most small business owners don’t even have a marketing plan and just do some spray and pray advertising on a tactical level and then say “I’ve tried xyz and it didn’t work…” instead of creating a strategic marketing plan and sticking with it.
    Keep up the good work!
    Karl

    • Spray & pray advertising – that’s good Karl. So often small business owners are better at their craft than they are at owning a business. That’s when agencies like yours can be most helpful! Thanks for visiting our blog.

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