The Ultimate Guide to Creating Annual Marketing Plans for Your Business

annual marketing plan

Marketing is an important part of any business. Business owners that spend time investing in marketing should see everything they’re doing as an investment in overall business growth.

Knowing that marketing is important is simple, but putting together a cohesive annual marketing plan is easier said than done.

If you want to know how to start looking at marketing as a year-long investment, you’ve come to the right place.

We’ll tell you everything you need to know to create a comprehensive marketing plan that can service your business throughout the year.

Tips For Creating An Annual Marketing Plan

Creating a marketing plan from scratch will require a lot of research, patience, and hard work. We’re going to let you know what you need to do to put together a marketing plan you can be proud of.

Whether you want to focus on social media marketing or improve SEO, if you follow these tips you’ll have a plan that can help meet your marketing needs.

Be Prepared To Be Flexible

A lot of things can change throughout the year.

There may be a brand-new marketing tactic that works for your other businesses in your industry you could want to try. You could find that something unexpected happens in the market and that you need to adjust your strategy.

When you’re planning your strategy, try to think of flexible and reasonable deadlines. Leave in spaces for market research and ideation to make sure that you’re aware of the latest industry news and marketing tactics.

Evaluate Your Current Marketing Methods

Before you can start making a new annual marketing plan, you need to think about what you’re doing now and how well it’s working for you.

Some businesses may be able to build upon their current marketing plan. They may have successful initiatives from last year that need to be taken to the next level of development.

Other businesses may find that last year’s marketing plan wasn’t a success. They may need to develop brand new strategies and start from scratch.

Are you not sure how to evaluate the success of your old marketing plan? Start looking into the return on investment (ROI) of what you did.

Think about how much time and money it cost you to perform each marketing task. Then think about how much money each task and marketing channel brought in because of your efforts.

Think About Your Budget

Before you start planning a comprehensive year-long marketing strategy, take time to think about how much money you have to devote to marketing.

It’s estimated that businesses around the world will spend around $457.62 billion on marketing services this year. PPC ads, website work, social media advertising, copywriting, and other marketing costs can add up.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to have a stellar marketing strategy, but you do have to think about how much your business can invest over a year.

Start off by looking at how much you already devote to marketing, then estimate how much you think you’d like to spend on your plan.

Think about what aspects of marketing deserve most of your focus over the next 12 months. Focus on finding money to fund those initiatives before you think about other larger projects.

If you find that you need more money than you anticipated, think of ways you can get money from other areas of your budget. Or scale back your marketing plan and think about focusing on the most important pillars of your plan.

Know Your Audience

Ideally, business owners would sell their products and services to everyone and anyone they can find. But in order to have a successful marketing plan, you need to narrow down your customer focus onto a target audience.

When you think of your ideal customer, what are they like?

Some of you may think of a mid-level manager at a business that needs professional services. They may meet with you throughout the year and get invoiced monthly for the services you provide.

Your ideal customer could be single men no older than 35 that earns more than $50k a year and has extra spending money. They may be a single mother in her twenties that needs to save money.

Knowing who your target customer is will make crafting a marketing plan to suit their needs easier for you.

Once you understand who your target market is, you can start thinking about which marketing strategies and platforms will appeal to them.

Know The Customer’s Journey

Now that you know who your target audience is, you should start to learn what it takes for the average buyer to make a purchase.

Knowing the customer decision journey is essential for all business owners, and knowing yours from start to finish can help you create a stellar annual marketing plan.

Think about how they learned about your business. Did they find your website online, or did they stumble upon it when they were walking along a shopping complex?

Take time to consider how long it takes them to make a buying decision.

Do you have the kind of customer that will spend time researching brands and businesses before they make a purchase? Or are these people that need something immediately, and will buy from a store that has what they need in stock?

It’s also important to think about how often the customer will need your goods or services. Will this be a one-time purchase? Will they need to come back each month for something new, or will the need something for every week?

Identifying these touchpoints for your customers can help you understand their needs, and how to better market to them.

Don’t Feel The Need To Do Everything

One reason why people struggle with creating a yearly marketing plan is that they try to focus on too much at once.

Small business owners may not have a lot of time to focus on individual marketing activities. That’s why it’s important to narrow your focus and only spend time and money on your most pressing concerns.

It’s better to get one part of your marketing plan in excellent shape than to spend time working on several strategies that never get off the ground.

If you don’t have a great PPC advertising strategy, spend the year focusing on building that up. If you don’t have a social media presence, devote a chunk of your plan to building up your profiles.

It’s also important to remember that some platforms and strategies may not be the best for your business.

An investment firm that handles clients aged 45 and up shouldn’t devote time to building up a Pinterest marketing plan. An IT company that deals with big businesses shouldn’t invest in building out a blog with beginner IT management tips.

When you narrow your focus and think about which parts of your plan are the most important, you’ll be in a good place for your annual marketing plan.

Play Up What Makes You Stand Out

Today’s business world can be a very crowded place. If you want to bring in new customers, you need to think about what makes you different from your competitors.

Once you determine your unique selling point, make it a core part of your marketing message. Reference it as much as possible in ads and copy, make it a part of your company image.

What advantages will customers have if they go with you over someone else?

Some businesses choose to showcase the quality of products and services. They’ll talk about using the highest quality ingredients or parts. They may highlight the professional experience their employees have.

Other businesses tend to go down the money and value route. Some businesses may talk about how their customers always save money when they go to their store.

Other businesses can play up the value of their services but in a different way. They may mention that other businesses are less expensive, but that their high-quality products and services are worth the extra money in the long run.

Know How To Evaluate Success

Regardless of what you do in your annual marketing plan, you want to make sure that your new strategies and tactics are working.

The easiest way to evaluate the success of your plan is to think about which metrics will matter the most.

If your overall marketing goal is to drive more traffic to the website, page views would be an obvious metric to measure. Bounce rates and time on the page can be an additional helpful metric that can help you better evaluate content and if it’s serving the customer’s needs.

If building your social media presence is important, look beyond your follower count. See if people are interacting with and sharing your content.

Next Steps

Now that you know how to make an annual marketing plan, you’re eager to start working on your overall marketing strategy.

We’re here to help you every step of the way. Be sure to get your free quote today so we can start talking about which marketing strategies are best for your business.

Also be sure to check out some of the helpful content we have on our blog.

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The Best Digital Marketing Techniques: Free Tips From a Professional Consultant

marketing techniques

In today’s digital world, you have to keep on top of different digital marketing techniques to stay relevant and reach out to your target audience.

Experts project Google to have a 32.4% market share of the net digital ad revenue worldwide in 2018. It remains the biggest search engine in the industry. With the digital age, it’s important to switch your marketing strategy to fit the internet landscape.

Majority of consumers today spend a lot of time online. It’s important to use digital marketing techniques that drive more people to your business.

The best way to grow your business is to hire an SEO agency. They have the know-how when it comes to digital marketing techniques. There are some things you can do on your own, especially if you’re starting to apply digital marketing techniques to your strategies.

Here are some techniques you can use like a pro:

Keep Up With the Upcoming Digital Marketing Trends

Of all the techniques you can use for digital marketing, “trend hijacking” is one of the useful ones so far. It’s best if you put your brand out there, especially on the World Wide Web.

There are a lot of trends going on in the digital world related to your brand that can help you gain a massive number of online audiences.

The best marketing techniques you can use to capitalize on this is to use tools like Google Trends to help identify ongoing trends.

If you have the right set of tools and the passion to stay ahead, you can strive and gain knowledge. This can help you surpass your competitors and make your way to the top.

Use Automation Apps

The digital marketing world is fast-paced and ever-changing. If you want to stay on top of your competitors, one of the best marketing techniques is to get into marketing automation.

It’s the best method if your marketing strategy involves result-driven approaches.

Market automation apps can help fill up the knowledge gap your business might have. There are a lot of apps out there that automate the promotion of your business. Some of these apps can do:

  • Automated e-mail marketing
  • Automatic Twitter tweet posting
  • Automatic Facebook feed posting

To test its degree of success, you need to observe the engagement and responses from your target audience. Some people prefer “real people” engaging them in your social media channels.

There are chatbots out there that can simulate an almost human-like conversation, so you can look for that if you want to get the most out of automation.

Optimize Your Marketing Techniques for Mobile Devices

A mobile-optimized strategy delivers a lot of value for a lot of businesses, especially local ones. Some mobile strategies faced controversies in recent times.

One of the reasons is the fact that mobile-responsive websites convert more people on higher resolution screens compared to the lower ones.

Google still keeps its mobile-first stance on the situation, but it’s undeniable that a large chunk of people online use desktops, laptops, and tablets for their online business transactions.

If you want to optimize your marketing techniques for mobile, keep these factors in mind. Build mobile-responsive websites that have relevant and engaging content, Call-To-Actions, and faster load times.

Use Social Media Marketing More

This marketing strategy is one of the newest approaches you can use to gain a massive audience for your brand. With large subscriber bases, social media networks like Facebook serve as one of your primary channels for brand promotion.

Facebook, for example, influences 52% of consumers’ online and offline purchases.

You can use social media trends to place your brand out for all subscribers to see. Recent changes to social network policies now make them more viable advertising platforms. It comes with a price since you need to pay these platforms to advertise you more.

The price is worth paying since the reach of Social Media is wide. You can target your ads to specific audiences that are more likely to support your brand.

Optimize Your Conversion Rate Through Your Website

When talking about Conversion Rate Optimization, it involves steps that help make your brand more attractive to your audience. It’s a systematic way of expanding your customer base and let you get the best out of your brand in different ways.

There are a lot of ways you can increase your conversion rate and reduce the bounce rate of your website.

The simple things like filling out forms, subscribing to your blog, clicking on a call to action, and the like can help persuade your site visitors. It helps you steer them into performing an action that you want. Using CRO can help you get more understanding about your website visitors’ behaviors and how to best adapt to it.

Make Your Brand Appear in Search Engine Results with SEO

You can use some SEO marketing strategies to focus on expanding your brand’s visibility on the search engine results without paying for the ads. What you need to have an effective SEO strategy is a technical knowledge that helps boost your rankings, drive more website traffic, and increase the search engines’ recognition for your brand.

There are a lot of aspects you need to consider when it comes to SEO, from the optimal word count to how other websites link to you online.

The main objective of your SEO strategy is to make your site in a way that search engines prioritize it more than your competitors. That way, you can get more customers and let your business flourish in this digital landscape.

Don’t be Afraid to Use Paid Marketing and Campaigns

Despite having an attached price tag, paid marketing is one of the most effective means for you to use search engines for paid ads. When you pay Google or Yahoo for advertisements, your website becomes visible at the top of the search results with the “Ad” label.

There is a lot of research supporting the fact that a lot of people online click more on paid search results compared to other forms of online advertisements.

When looking for things online through search engines, people who click your ads find it more relevant to their search queries. It adds another layer of legitimacy to your website since people will acknowledge the money you shell out to advertise your brand.

It’s one of the better marketing techniques to partner with your SEO efforts.

Familiarize Yourself with Influencer Marketing for PR

Another marketing technique you should capitalize on is influencer marketing. It’s one of the most recent and distinct digital marketing strategies that has its own set of benefits for your brand. You can link it to your content strategy, SEO efforts, and social marketing techniques.

Influencer marketing means that you promote your brand through the use of experts, influencers, popular figures, and other celebrities.

These people have followers that can change what people consider for buying.

It’s categorized under word-of-mouth marketing, which has the potential to spread faster especially when your influencer has at least a million followers.

Reveal the Power of Partnership with Affiliate Marketing

This is another of the many great digital marketing techniques you can use to market your brand online.

This type of marketing has a lot of similarities with commission-based marketing, where you pay your affiliate based on how they perform. When you engage in affiliate marketing, you only pay your affiliate if they’re successful at selling your brand to people.

There are a lot of companies that use affiliate marketing today, like:

  • Banks
  • Finance Companies
  • Travel agencies

Most of these companies report a successful campaign through this strategy. You can try it out and see if it works out for you.

Identify Your Goals to Know the Tools You’ll Need

Your marketing techniques should always tie in with your business goals. No matter what kind of goal your company has, you need to know the methods necessary to measure it. The method you’ll use to measure success depends on the kind of business you have, as well as the goals you set for yourself.

The metrics that you use can help you adjust your strategy based on whether you’re meeting your goals. Knowing the areas where you need to improve can help ensure that your business strategy is sound and adaptable as the digital marketing landscape continues to change.

Get More Digital Marketing Techniques Today!

There are a lot of great marketing strategies out there that you can use depending on the kind of business you have. Knowing what works can take a lot of trial and error on your part, especially if you’re doing it on your own.

If you want a more efficient way to implement your digital marketing strategies, getting an SEO agency is the best way to go.

If you need assistance with your marketing strategy, we can help.

We have a lot of experience working with various brands.

We can determine the right techniques you can use to ensure that your business thrives in the digital landscape.

Do you have more questions? We offer free consultations and services that can boost your company to the top of the search engine results. Contact us today to get you started on your journey to success.

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The Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management

The Ultimate Guide to Online Reputation Management

Welcome to the world of online reputation management, where one ill-timed tweet or potentially offense comment back to a reviewer can easily cost you your entire business.

In today’s world especially, it can be tough to know the best way to manage your brand’s reputation online. How can you ensure that you defend yourself and your business practices, while also making sure consumers know you value their opinion?

That’s what online reputation management is all about.

Read on to access our ultimate guide to getting it right.

Step One: Find Out What They’re Saying

We get it: it can be incredibly stressful to think about Googling yourself or your business to know what people really think of you.

However, if you don’t face the music, you have no chance of improving — and you’re telling your customers that their opinion doesn’t really matter to you.

The first step of good reputation management is to do a quick search on yourself and your brand.

Read your reviews, make sure you’re aware of any online complaints, and even search your business’s name on social media marketing platforms like Instagram and Twitter. We also suggest setting up a Google Alert for your brand’s name.

This way, anytime someone posts something online related to your company, you know about it as soon as it happens. This allows you to respond to the comment, and control the situation before it gets away from you.

Don’t like what you see?

If unflattering or inappropriate pictures of you or your employees pop up, do what you can about getting them deleted. Also wipe your old Twitter page if needed, and close any college-era social media personal platforms.

Step Two: Control Your Narrative

So, you did a little bit of searching about yourself and your brand.

Unfortunately, you didn’t like what you learned. Before you start panicking that it’s too late, focus on what you can do to salvage the situation.

The first thing?

Build or completely revamp your personal website. This way, when people Google your name, that will be the first thing that comes up about you — and you can present yourself as a professional.

Next, start doing what you can to push those negative reviews, old photos, and social media missteps off the first page of search engine results.

Submit articles to industry journals. Start a blog. Create new social media accounts for both yourself and your business.

Step Three: Respond To The Negative

How you respond to a crisis or a mistake says a lot about your personal character — and your ability to maintain a level head.

Of course, we know that usually, keeping your cool when someone has insulted you or your business is easier said than done.

The number-one rule of responding to negative comments and reviews? Give yourself a few minutes — or hours — to calm down first. Don’t respond or act on defensiveness or raw emotion.

Instead, step away and get control over yourself. Then, really think about what the person was saying. Chances are that, even if they didn’t say it in the best way, they still provided some constructive thought or criticism about your business.

Even better?

Their review gives you the chance to prove to both current and potential customers that you want to listen to feedback and keep your customers satisfied.

Start by thanking the person for their review. Then, assure them that you’re going to follow up on the situation, both with the reviewer and the responsible staff/team member.

Next, ask them what you could do to make their experience better. Finally, offer them either a free or discounted service/product if they’re willing to give you another chance to make it right.

Step Four: Consider A Professional

Let’s face it — whether because of your age, your nationality, or even the amount of time you spend online, you won’t always know what’s appropriate and what’s not.

Further, you may not have the time or even the writing ability to craft an apology in the right way or to correctly respond to a review.

Sometimes, hiring professional marketers or an online reputation management expert is the best course of action.

First of all, they have the time to do the research into what’s being said about you online. Additionally, they have the marketing experience needed to prevent you from making major mistakes in the first place.

And finally, they have the resources to actually address and fix the situation — instead of just ignoring it.

Need More Help With Online Reputation Management?

Remember — managing your reputation online isn’t always about avoiding mistakes. Instead, it’s about knowing the proper way to own up to them.

Looking for a reputation management professional with the skill set you need?

We can make it happen. In addition to managing your brand’s online reputation, we also offer Search Engine Optimization (SEO), PPC, website design, and several other online digital marketing services to take your brand to the next level.

Don’t wait until it’s too late to start thinking about your online reputation management strategy.

Instead, spend some time on our website to learn more about how we can help you avoid making costly mistakes that severely damage — or even outright destroy — your brand’s reputation.

When you’re ready to take control of your narrative, reach out to us to get started with a free marketing quote.

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How Small Businesses Benefit from Fractional Marketing

How Small Businesses Benefit from Fractional Marketing

Not every business can afford to hire a top-notch marketing exec, or even have enough work to keep them busy for the price. However, pretty much any company on the planet can benefit from getting a dose of expertise from a seasoned CMO.

Whether that’s big picture consulting stuff, or deep dives into a few select problem areas, fractional marketing is a compromise. You get the benefit of having an exec on staff at a lower price. Check out some of the benefits of fractional marketing services, here.

What, Exactly is Fractional Marketing?

A fractional CMO (chief marketing executive) is an outsourced marketing expert you can hire to help you with your marketing efforts. Small and medium-sized businesses may find that they need someone on staff that can hel

Fractional Marketing

p them tackle a specific project and that their needs vary throughout the year.

Working with an expert on a project basis means that smaller budgets can still benefit from working with someone with the skills and experience needed to help you grow your company.

That could take the form of hiring a content expert who helps you implement a strategy, then helps you find quality freelance writers or digital creators that can flesh out your website.

Or, you might need help getting into the nitty-gritty of web analytics and learning how to convert data into actionable to-do items.

Sounds good so far, right? Here is a look at some of the more specific benefits of fractional marketing

Save Major Cash

One of the main reasons you should invest in fractional marketing service is, it’s an affordable way to gain access to top talent in marketing.

Unfortunately, when many companies make budget cuts, they do so at the expense of marketing, despite its boundless potential to drive sales. With a fractional CMO on hand, you’ll be able to pick and choose where those marketing dollars go. Plus, you’ll have the benefit of getting an expert’s advice on how to spend said dollars.

Help Fill in the Blanks Where Marketers are Struggling

If you have a young marketing team without much experience or a single marketer, spread too thin? In both cases, bringing on an outside marketing expert can help ease the burden, and help coach those team members with much to learn.

In this case, you’ll want to bring on the fractional CMO in a consulting capacity. Ask them if they can help you strategize and help your team learn the ins and outs of developing and implementing a marketing plan.

Over time, your team should be able to take over, develop leadership skills, or become SEO experts. Figure out where you are lacking and talk to your consultant about how you can go about fixing it.

Ultimately, you’re bound to see promising results as far as conversions are concerned, and your team will benefit from the real world education they get just by coming in to work.

A Fresh Set of Eyes

A fractional CMO provides a newfound clarity to your workplace. It’s always a smart idea to get a fresh set of eyes on the case, as an outside perspective can help you break old habits that might be hurting your business, or give you some insight into what customers see when they look at your product.

Business owners sometimes assume that they’re explaining everything to consumers in a way that makes sense, but in reality are putting out unfocused or confusing messaging. Working with an outside source can illuminate these areas at a fraction of the price it costs to hire a dedicated marketing person.

A Network of Experts–At Your Fingertips

Hire one full-time person and you probably just have access to their individual pool of knowledge. And no matter how smart and savvy your new staff member, there’s still the issue that one employee can’t be an expert in everything.

With a fractional CMO, you’ll find that this person doesn’t work alone. They probably have a team back at their office that can help them with certain tasks. If they’re a content person, they’ll be able to get you in touch with a data expert.

Revamp An Underperforming Team

If your marketing team is underperforming, you might not have the know-how to diagnose the problem, much less find a solution.

Your outsourced expert will be able to identify problems with staff, as well as weaknesses in the leadership team causing some of the problems.

Help With Digital Analytics

An excellent fractional CMO will know the ins and outs of digital analytics. If you’re not of the data-driven mindset, it can be hard to make the most out of your digital analytics, even if you’re reading all the right reports.

The CMO will be able to help you find the right software solution for your company, as well as turn reports into a to-do list your employees can use. Additionally, the fractional marketing consultant should be able to train the appropriate staff on how to run reports. And–how to use those reports to make informed decisions.

Ready to Get Fractional? Give MarketCrest a Try!

MarketCrest offers a range of marketing services, including fractional marketing. We know your marketing dollars can sometimes be the hardest to part with.

Fractional marketing can help you make the most out of a smaller budget–we’ll help with the big picture stuff, and help you hit your revenue targets through email and content marketing, SEM, and a whole lot more.

Fill out the form here to sign up for a free one-hour consultation. We’re happy to walk you through the process and get you started on the path to success.

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FCL Graphics Marketing Case Study

As a recognized leader in their industry, our client, FCL, specializes in developing fully automated personalized data-driven campaigns. Over the course of their 40 year history, their service offerings had outpaced the competition, but their personal brand and marketing had not. FCL leadership sought to reposition their brand with a portfolio of current, relevant communication. We worked closely with FCL to define their needs; develop a comprehensive market solution and expand their reach leveraging ROI driven solutions. Our solution included corporate branding, content creation, website development, multi-channel direct marketing, variable data print communications, public relations and social media marketing. We continue to work with them on revenue generation and other key initiatives. Read more

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