Your Annual Marketing Checklist

Your Annual Marketing Checklist

Top 5 Things To Include on Your Marketing Assessment Checklist

Create Your Market Research Checklist and Check it Twice.

For most businesses, December signals the dreaded year-end circus when juggling everything from reconciling the books, preparing taxes, issuing 1099s and W2s is a required act.

And while those are mission-critical tasks, one that should not be overlooked is your annual marketing checklist.  This marketing assessment checklist should include your overall marketing objectives, what marketing tactics were implemented, who your high-priority target audiences were, what results were generated and the costs associated with each tactic.  As the saying goes you can’t know where you’re going unless you know where you’re coming from.  Understanding the lessons learned from your marketing efforts will prove critical in helping you determine what needs to be optimized or removed from your plan.

Here are 5 key marketing elements you should be sure to add to your list.

1. Who are you?

Knowing who you are and what you stand for is by far, the most important element in any company’s marketing strategy.  Having a clear image that is well communicated and established within your company will serve to make your business development plans more streamlined and targeted.  The creation of your mission, visions and values as well as your purpose is accomplished.

2. What are you trying to accomplish?

What are the specific business goals you want to achieve?  Make more money is not the answer – or at least, not stated that way.  Unless you are a non-profit, all businesses want to make money or at best, break even.  You need to push further in your goals and decide exactly how you are going to make money.  You also want to list over what time period these goals should be accomplished.  For example, a goal worthy of making your list would be something like this – Increase profit margins on professional services from 10% to 20% over the 18 months beginning 1st quarter 2011.  The more specific the better because unless you have specific goals, there is no way for you to determine if your marketing efforts were successful or not.

3. Who are you talking to?

One of the most important elements of any marketing strategy is to first identify your target audience. You must know exactly who you are targeting?  Identifying your target is more than just saying ‘prospective clients’.  You must be able to go deeper and determine age, gender, household income, education, geographic location, lifestyle, attitudes, etc.

When you can pinpoint and profile exactly who you are trying to reach – everything else becomes much easier.  So how do you get this information? You first need to start with your current clients and customers by gathering this data from them in a variety of ways.

Customer satisfaction surveys are a great tool, as they not only give you important feedback about your product and service, it’s a great way to get general data from each client completing the survey. This can be done anonymously via an online survey or on your website.  They can also be done in person via a fill out form in your place of business.  Either way they are great tools that can form the basis of customer data collection.

4. Where do I reach them?

It’s a widely accepted fact that today’s consumers are bombarded with over 3000 messages per day.  So how do you know where the best places are to find them with your specific product or message?  First, you must know where they are likely to be when they are receiving these messages.  This is where a media consumption habit study comes into place.

While on the surface, you may assume that since all of your clients do business with you, then they must all like the same things – but you would be wrong.  You might also assume that since you have so many different types of clients that they all like totally different things – and you would also be wrong.  Take for example, social media networks, you are just as likely to find 20 something females, as you are to find 50 something females, doing everything from uploading to tweeting to commenting.

A media consumption habit study uncovers the ‘wheres’ and ‘hows’ of people’s preferences when it comes to getting information.  Some of the specific areas that are typically included are types of magazines and newspapers read, types of shows and programming watched, types of devices used for viewing e.g. DVR, types radio stations listened to – classic rock or jazz, types of websites visited, types of tasks completed online, various use of social media platforms, etc.  By structuring your media consumption habit study in an engaging and intuitive way will lead to a lot of relevant and rich information to help you determine how to reach your high priority target audience.

5. What do I say to them?

Knowing what messages to communicate to your prospect is easily done when you understand which factors will trigger the desired behavior.  So how do you know what facts will resonate with your target audience?  This can be accomplished via a variety of studies.

One in particular is an attitudes and perception study.  For example, if you are a discount retailer and you want to know what message to communicate other than low price, this type of study will get at some of the other underlying triggers that motivate consumers to action.

So questions about their attitudes to designer brand vs. discount brand might lead to insights that while a consumer does not want to spend a lot on clothing, she wants the perception that she does.  So your message in this case would be something like “Designer looks – without the designer price tag”.

Other insights to be gained from this type of study can also lead to the discovery of what they value most in clothing if pricing was not a factor.  Questions like this will likely yield responses that fit and style are the most important qualities they look for in clothing.  Your resulting message might be “The fit you want at prices you’ll love.”  The net result is to try and develop messaging that appeals to them on an emotional level and then seal the deal with pricing.

These are key tasks that every business owner who wants to have an effective marketing plan should adopt.  Marketing research should hold an equal space at the table as you think about your overall goals and objectives.  There is no room for assumptions in marketing your business.  Leverage the various market research tools to guide you along.  Get the facts, mine the data and develop marketing plans that are targeted and are effective use of your budget.

About the Author

Faith James is a marketing and qualitative research expert with over 18+ years experience.  She has developed marketing and communications programs for Fortune 500 multi-nationals to start-up brands.  She is a Riva-certified researcher and moderator and has conducted a host of research projects for clients ranging from apparel, spirits and wine, food and many more.  She can be reached at 612-205-6526, faith@jamessphere.com twitter:@faithjames

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