Labor Day has come and gone. Not only does this represent the end of the summer season, it also means we’re coming up on the fourth quarter of 2017. That means it’s time to start thinking about the marketing planning process for 2018.
The truth is, marketing planning for next year should be well underway long before the year ends. It’s just too important to put it off until the last minute. Budgets and goals are set well before January 1st, and your marketing plan should also be finalized before then.
Why do you need a marketing plan?
Would you take a long trip without your GPS or a map? Well, you need a marketing plan to plot out where you want your business to go and how you plan to get there. Marketing planning helps you think through and write down your business goals and what you need to do to achieve them.
The marketing planning process is a good opportunity to:
- Identify and understand your target market
- Take an in-depth look at your competition
- Examine what differentiates your from your competition
- Assess what you do very well and what needs improvement
- Recognize emerging market threats and opportunities
- Determine how you intend to reach your target market
- Assemble a budget with the sufficient resources necessary for success
After you’ve reflected on the big picture, defined your vision and identified your marketing goals, you need to put a plan in place so you achieve those goals. Your marketing planning process should map out a blueprint to help in achieving each one of your goals, guiding your marketing decisions as you go. We’ve written a separate post about what a marketing plan is and what goes into it, which you’ll find here.
Once you finish your marketing plan, don’t let it collect dust! While you’re busy putting out those daily fires in the office, it’s often hard to see the forest for the trees where your business is concerned. Even so, try to make time to refer to your marketing plan at least every quarter. Since things will always change, be ready to make those mid-year changes or tweaks to your plan to keep it on track. You’ll be helping your business stay on track to achieve your marketing goals.
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