When was the last time you looked at your marketing plan? (Be honest, it’s okay.) You spent time to create it, and then expertly organized the plan in a three-ring binder. Now it’s on a shelf gathering dust. If this describes you, your business may be missing out. Luckily, it’s not too late. Now is a great time to dust off that marketing plan and review it. Start by asking these questions. They’ll help you see where you’re at and what changes will keep your small business on track.
Your marketplace is constantly changing. New competitors come along, customer needs change, or a new advertising source may be introduced. All of these things can change how you market. Asking this question forces you to identify these factors and do something about them. For example, you may want to reach out to your best customers with a special offer if a new competitor comes to your town.
This seems like an obvious question but it’s easy to get sidetracked. A new opportunity can distract you. Then you lose sight of where you wanted to go. It might be that the opportunity is appropriate. But reviewing your plan confirms that it aligns with your long-term strategy and isn’t just a knee-jerk reaction. Then you can purposefully reallocate your marketing resources if needed.
Use the metrics in your plan to evaluate whether your campaigns are meeting their objectives. If they aren’t, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should abandon them. For example, if your email campaign isn’t producing, consider changing some of the elements like your call to action or when you send it. Test several options to see which performs best. Then adjust your plan going forward.
One of the simplest ways to gauge success is looking at sales numbers. Are they what you projected? How do they compare with numbers from the same time last year? Comparing the two can give you an indication that your plan is working, all other things being equal. If you’re falling below projection, you may need to revisit the tactics you have in your plan. You may decide to postpone a campaign or reallocate your budget to different promotional projects.
Take a look at your net customer count (new customers minus customers you’ve lost). A growing base can be a sign that your marketing plan is working. But even if it isn’t, you can gain valuable information by asking the question. For example, if most of your business comes from new customers, you may want to shift your marketing plan to promote repeat sales from existing customers. Maybe it’s time to look at a customer loyalty program.
Get the most from your marketing plan by reviewing it regularly. Start by asking these questions to learn where you’re succeeding and where you might need to make changes.