Another year is coming to a close; last year has almost come and gone. With the holidays around the corner, the new year will be here before we know it! As we enter the 4th quarter, businesses are beginning to plan for the upcoming year.
Planning doesn’t come naturally to everyone. Some must place reminders on their calendars or they may let their goals pass them by.
So, if it doesn’t come naturally to all, why do we recommend that every businesses plan?
Planning ahead will help you:
- Save time. Instead of coming up with ideas, goals, etc just spur-of-the-moment, you will have an idea of what you your goals are ahead of time.
- Focus on other tasks. This goes hand-in-hand with saving time. Instead of having to stop what you are doing to focus on what you should be working towards that week, you can focus on other aspects of your business that need your immediate attention.
- Get everyone on board. If you have a plan set in place, you can share it with your team members and they can, in turn, help you accomplish your plan. Doing everything on your own can lead to failure in your business. Your team is there because they believe in you and your business, and want to see you succeed.
- Avoid big mistakes. The unforeseen happens. By having a plan in place, you can prepare for the unexpected and avoid making mistakes that could be detrimental to you and your brand.
- Keep organized. Having a plan allows us to refer back to the plan when we may be getting off track. Planning keeps you organized and focused on the goals of your business.
Business planning should include areas of your business such as finances (budget, taxes, expenses and income goals), sales projections (what numbers you need to reach, expect to reach, new targets to go after), new product or services you may need or you’ve been considering (what does your customer want or need?), and of course, marketing (from print materials to content marketing)!
We know a bit about the marketing aspect of planning, so as you begin planning for next year, here are…
4 things you should do/consider for your marketing strategies as you look ahead to the new year:
1) Analyze Your Content: What has worked and what has not?
We all experiment with our content throughout the year; from new approaches, new hashtags, or new social platforms, we all want to be successful in our content marketing efforts and see growth and engagement from our audience. However, it is important to look through the past 9 months of the content you have already published to see what worked and what did not. From your social media analytics and insights pages, you will be able to tell:
- What grabbed your readers’ attention?
- What content was shared/liked/re-tweeted the most?
- What time was your audience online?
- What days was there the most engagement?
- What type of content was most successful? Videos, images, blogs, etc.
If you did not use your analytics and insights over the past 9 months, now is the time to do so. Analyzing your content will help identify changes you need to make in your content marketing strategy for next year. You may, even, identify content from last year that can be recycled and reused in the new year. If it was effective and valued by your audience, why not use it again or approach it from a different perspective or new focus?
2) Identify Your Goals: A new year calls for new goals!
Businesses all have two goals in common… make revenue and succeed. But, the goals they set forth for their company year upon year differ. Your communication goals for last year may have been to develop your Facebook or Twitter page, increase your following, or learn how to engage with your audience. With a new year upon us, let’s increase those goals by layering on a new strategy. If you:
- Developed a social media platform in last year such as Twitter or Facebook, try adding on another in next year.
- Began to increase your following in last year, set a new goal of increasing your engagement and relationships with your followers.
- Posted once a day on your platforms in last year, increase your postings to 2 or 3 times a day in next year.
Some businesses may not have even considered creating goals related to their communication efforts in previous year, but let us encourage you otherwise. Content marketing is an important trend to pay attention to and your business needs to be online. Social media was once an option, but is now a necessity.
3) Plan: Who, what, when, where, why?
Now that you have analyzed the content you have published over the last 9 months and you have identified new goals for your business in the new year, it’s time to start the planning process. Ask yourself:
- Who is my target audience?
- Where can I engage with my target audience?
- What platforms do I need to be on?
- How often do I need to post?
- What type of content will I publish?
- Who will create and publish the content?
- Who will manage our communities?
It is important to note that what you plan for can be changed as needed. Things happen beyond our control and we must adapt to those changes. We may misinterpret the opportune time to post and need to adjust what we have planned for. A major event within our industry may happen that we need to shed light on instead of whatever planned content you had outlined. The circumstances are unlimited. Be willing to be flexible!
4) Implement Your Plan: And… action!
You have put in all the work of analyzing, goal setting, and planning, but now it’s time to put your plan into action. You have identified who is going to be in charge of your online communities, you know what content is going to be published and how often, and you know what platforms you need to be on. Although you have planned the year out and have placed someone responsible for your content marketing platforms, you must be active in making sure things are getting done the way you want them to.
You may be overwhelmed with all the different aspects of your business that you must plan for in the upcoming year. Now is the time to consider having someone help you in the research, plan development, and implementation aspects of your communication plan strategy. Focus on the other aspects of your business and allow a professional in the content marketing industry to help you plan your communication strategy for next year.