The New Year is a time for resolutions and fresh starts. For small Business Owners, it’s also a time to take stock of the past year and plan for the coming one. Preparation and planning are key components to staying ahead of your competition. Having an effective marketing plan can mean the difference between growing your business or stagnating in place. So, are you ready to ring in the new year with a plan? Here are some tips to help you get started!
The first step is to review your business from the previous year. Examine what worked and what didn’t, and use that data to identify areas for improvement. It’s also important to look at how your business fits into the big picture of the current market. What trends should you be aware of? How can you adjust your small business strategy accordingly?
Looking Forward / Looking Back
We know that success depends on planning for the future. But it’s also important to look back at past results so you can learn from your successes and failures.
If you had a winner that you used in the past, repeat it! You get bored of your marketing MUCH faster than your customers ever will. And if they responded well previously, chances are they are looking forward to seeing it again. Think of ways you can improve the results – what worked and what didn’t work last year?If you weren’t happy with a promotion, fix it or eliminate it! This is the benefit of having all your results at your fingertips. Our Royalty Rewards® Coaches are skilled in helping to find ways to improve a previously mediocre campaign – with a more enticing offer or a different list. Or if you think there is no way to improve it, stop doing it. Every piece of marketing needs to make you more money than you spent on it.
By taking the time to review your past marketing efforts, you can get a better idea of what worked and what didn’t. Having a historical record of your marketing will help you plan more effective campaigns for the future.
It’s especially important when sales might be slow, like a seasonal slump after the holidays. By preparing yourself in advance, you can make sure your business doesn’t grind to a halt during these times. Planning ahead allows you to take advantage of opportunities before they are happening.
At Royalty Rewards®, our Coaches work with their clients to review what worked and what didn’t work over the last year. Where did sales slump? What campaigns boosted sales? What needs to be improved? Creating and following a marketing plan is the key to success.
But what goes into a marketing plan?
The #1 Rule of a Great Marketing Plan
At its most basic level, a great marketing plan gives you a basic structure and road map for you to follow and allows you to avoid last minute panic and stress. We find that a simple format is to build it with a calendar so that you can get a visual of not only what is happening each week or month, but also what you need to do to prepare for the marketing campaigns coming down the road.
But there is one very important rule to follow. Your marketing decisions need to be based on facts and data, not feeling and emotions. Our feelings are often misleading, which leads to poor marketing decisions. That’s why we like to track so much data, it’s key to KNOW and not GUESS.
Next, start planning for the upcoming year. Determine what marketing tactics will make the most sense for you and set goals that are achievable, yet challenging. This could include utilizing social media more, launching targeted campaigns to reach new customers, or picking seasonal or social events to tie your marketing into.
Keep It Simple
How many times has a holiday appeared, a special occasion, national day, or some big event that has everyone’s attention and you’ve thought… “Hmm, I
should have taken advantage of that?”
Then you say to yourself “for sure, next year I’ll do that…”.
An election, the Olympics, the Academy Awards, National Car Care Day or National Burger Day … there’s an unlimited number of events in the year that are great marketing opportunities. Not to mention all the regular marketing you can do with seasonal changes in your business like new products or customers’ special events.
Doing unique promotions gives your marketing a theme and relevance. It’s what is on your guest’s mind during that month, it builds connection. This is slip-stream marketing and a very powerful marketing technique to use when promoting your business. Thinking ahead when planning your marketing calendar ensures that you are “Digging the well before you thirst.”
If you don’t sit down and make a conscious effort to decide what will work best for your business, and schedule out a plan, all those opportunities will be missed. Running around last minute trying to generate more business in a slow period is not productive, nor does it get you the best results. You should know what you’re going to be doing to promote your restaurant months ahead of time.
As this year is winding down, we encourage you to gather the key players in your business and make a marketing plan for 2023. It doesn’t need to be
elaborate, just a rough guideline of the milestones and markers that are relevant to your business and that you can tie into your marketing.
Pick a "Reason Why" to Send Marketing Each Month
Pick a timeframe. At Royalty Rewards® our Coaches create plans for their clients on a quarterly basis. That’s an effective amount of time to focus on.
Brainstorm: Gather your main marketing team members (it might just be you!) to brainstorm events that are relevant to each month. It could be anything – large holidays, like Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, a specific event unique to your community, a current event like an election or the Superbowl, a “national day” linked to some silly theme. Remember to include things the winners you reviewed to add them into the plan, or put a spin on them to
match the season. There’s an honorable day for almost anything you can think of and there is not end to the creative ways you can tie into them. If you google national days you’ll get lots of ideas.
Narrow It Down: Decide on what you will focus on, the things that will most likely resonate with your particular customer base, then start planning.
Once you have your marketing calendar filled with the events you want to target, then think about what is required for each. What kind of marketing? How many emails about it? Social Media posts? A Contest? Does it need a direct mail campaign to go with it? Do you need to create a new product or service to support it? What will success look like? Then delegate who will do which parts of each event by what date.
Once your marketing plan is laid out for the year, you’ll have peace of mind knowing you have a plan in place to generate sales each month. You can always modify and pivot if something unexpected comes up but having a plan in place will give you focus and motivation… AND you’ll be able to see where there’s room for some free time. (You ARE planning your own personal free time, aren’t you?)
Book Time For Yourself
How many vacations did you take last year? Did you work every Saturday or Sunday?
For most entrepreneurs and salespeople, the concept of FREE time and vacations is foreign to them. The reason most Business Owners don’t take time off is because they don’t think they deserve it until they finish some project or achieve some goal, or the business will fall apart if they aren’t
The truth is, you must take FREE time and vacations to re-energize your batteries and prevent burnout, and the only way to make sure you take time off is to reschedule it in advance. Otherwise, it will never happen.
In addition to small business marketing plans, make sure to plan for yourself as well! Set realistic goals for when you’ll take time off and schedule vacation days so that you can avoid burnout. It’s important to check-in with yourself throughout the year and give yourself permission to slow down and recharge when needed.
Block time off for yourself well in advance so that you can prepare your staff for it, and you can take pleasure in the anticipation of a holiday. Just because you are an independent business operator does not mean you should be beholden to the business at all times.
Learn to delegate. You do not have to do everything, you are surrounded by talented, capable staff members, some who would love to take on more responsibility. Give them the tasks you don’t enjoy, aren’t in your unique ability or simply are repetitive and time suckers. Delegate them to someone and define clear goals for them. Then monitor and have them report back. You want to delegate the task, but still maintain control over the outcome.
A Successful 2023 Begins With a Plan
The benefits of planning ahead are clear: increased revenues, better customer service, improved productivity, less stress, more time off – the list goes on! By taking the time to create a comprehensive plan, you ensure that you have all the tools necessary for a successful and profitable New Year.