I often think of marketing as the dashboard of the business. It is there at the beginning helping to take off, then to navigate and consult when in crisis. Once the plan is set up, it is on autopilot, but we can and should make manual adjustments when we feel it is needed.
Here are some tips on creating your 2019 marketing plan for your small business:
Align your marketing objectives with your commercial objectives
What would you like to achieve in 2019? More revenue, more profit or higher brand awareness, expansion to new markets or new products? Ensure you are clear with your business aspirations before you starting to work on your budgets and tactics.
Open a blank excel sheet and place your top three objectives in the top rows.
Review what worked and what didn't this year, and your overall marketing spend
It will take a while to plough through reports and crunch some numbers, but you must know exactly what projects you've run this year and what was the return on investment on each. I.e.: have you paid a yearly listing with privatediningrooms.co.uk? If so, how many enquiries you had and how many converted? Have you run a campaign with Star Deal via Bookatable? If so, how many covers you had, how much they spent and how much was your profit after their hefty commission?
Create a tab on your excel sheet recording all of these numbers, and note next to each campaign if in 2019 you would like to pull, push or profile (keep) them. Include here all the revenue gained of all campaigns and tools applied. I.e.: newsletters, social media, printed leaflets and any other online or offline tool, paid or free.
Create the 2019 marketing plan framework
Now create a column for each month on your excel sheet, and in the top row, a column for each factor that should be considered when assembling your plan. I.e.: bank holidays (Mother’s Day etc.), local events (school holidays, vegetarian week, sporting events etc.), if you are within a mall, theatre, station or hotel it’s crucial that you note down in a separate column the marketing campaigns these organisations are running throughout the year so you can align your strategies. A separate column for product development (new menu launch dates, if you plan to start to serve afternoon tea etc.), a separate tab to note what you have done last year that month, and lastly a column for what your competitors are doing.
Create your plan and budget
Now that you know your objectives, what works and what doesn’t for your business, aware of what is expected around you every month in 2019, you can start to fill in the last column of your excel sheet, with up to three focus points for each month (i.e. launching Mother’s Day, Vegan menu and Birthday package for groups). If you try to do more, there is a danger of confusing both your staff and customers and won’t be able to achieve your targets for any of these goals. If your business has retail and an event target, you can separate those tabs here, as those are two separate target markets and will need different media and message to reach them.
For each activity and project, note down the expected cost next to each activity in a separate tab, this includes monthly spend on newsletters, social media, paid for advertising, commission, and one off print, event exhibition costs etc. This way on the bottom row you will have the overall marketing spend for the year, and if you have to increase or decrease this, you will know which tactic you can pull or push to stay within your means.
Remember to note here Key Performance Indicators, including revenue and cover targets for each of the activities, based on your last year’s results.
You can also note next to each activity the person responsible of completing them, for ease of managing and tracking throughout the year.
5. Track, report and manage the plan
Remember the plan is a dashboard for your business and you can amend it any time for the benefit of your business. If a project is successful you may want to repeat it, if an investment doesn’t bring return you may want to stop it half way though the year. Make sure you send your diary invites now for your by-weekly marketing meetings to review milestones and progress by analysing costs, revenue and profit throughout the year.
I hope you found this summary useful. You can find some simple example plans on an excel sheet I've done years ago here, enjoy the planning process and if you have any questions or comments, please drop me an email, I would love to hear your thoughts.