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3 Simple Steps for Redefining Your Marketing Plan in the Off-Season

After the craziness of summer wedding season and the hubbub of the holidays, it’s time to relax and take a breath. You’ve worked hard and have earned a little R&R. Consider the start of the New Year as a perfect time to look at your marketing plan and redefine it for the year ahead.

1. Assess your previous successes and failures

The best marketers always look back at the past year’s successes and failures to better map out the future. Think back to the previous year and do a quick gut check. Does anything seem to stand out as a huge success or a catastrophic failure? Write down whatever comes to mind. If nothing comes, that’s OK too.

Now, look at the numbers. How did your sales pace year over year? Were you up or down in a particular month as compared to the previous year?

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Once you have your sales numbers documented, compare any peaks or slumps to your marketing analytics. Look at your social media insights to see if audience growth, engagement and click-throughs correspond to your sales numbers. If so, can you see any repeatable patterns for what worked and what didn’t that you can put into your plan for the coming year? Remember, your marketing—even social media marketing—is only as good as the leads and sales it delivers.  

Now, look at your Google Analytics. You should have “Goals” set up in Google Analytics to track inquiries. If you haven’t done this, do it now for the upcoming year. Here’s a quick video detailing how. When you set up goals, you get an added layer of data that will tell you which channels and platforms are actually converting into leads. This is important because sometimes the platforms that drive the most traffic do not generate the most inquiries. Knowing what converts can supercharge your marketing and sales.      

Once you have a clear idea of what worked and what didn’t work in last year’s marketing, jot them down and sketch out a thumbnail plan for what you want to do to leverage successes and avoid failure.

2. Set a marketing budget.

The fastest way to burn through marketing dollars is to forego setting a budget for the year. When you set a budget, you make an agreement that your resources are finite (because they are) and it helps put you in a more discerning mindset. It also helps you better measure ROI.

Pro tip: When you set your budget, be sure to account for time spent creating content, graphics, video, landing pages, and anything else that goes into marketing your business. Whether you are paying someone $20 an hour to post to social media or you’re doing it yourself, figure out how much the time spent is costing you and factor it into your marketing budget to get a true sense of how much it costs to market your business and services.

3. Set new S.M.A.R.T. Goals

The second fastest way to waste money is to avoid setting goals. Goals can help you understand when to evaluate performance, which campaigns and efforts should be optimized, and which ones should be terminated. Without goals (and a budget), you’re likely just throwing time and marketing dollars into campaigns in fits and starts, hoping something works.

S.M.A.R.T. goals are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. A smart goal would be something along the lines of:

“I want to grow my Instagram engagement from an average of 6% to 8% per post by the end of the quarter.”

This goal is specific and measurable in that you are growing your Instagram engagement by a certain percentage. It’s attainable because you are already averaging close to that percentage. It’s time-bound because you’re giving yourself to the end of the month (this is key to measurement because it tells you when to measure). Lastly, it’s relevant because most couples are using Instagram to get inspiration and find vendors in 2019.

You can set up several S.M.A.R.T. goals for the year. Just be sure to schedule in time to set up and report your progress throughout the year.

By taking the time to properly evaluate last year’s successes and failures and plan out the budget and scope for new marketing campaigns, you can prevent a lot of wasted time and money on marketing in the coming year.

Christie Osborne

Owner | Mountainside Media

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that brings in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA and the ABC Conference.