For businesses whose fiscal year runs on the calendar year, now is the time for planning and budgeting. Many B2B companies are in the midst of setting a marketing budget and thinking about tactics for the next year. There are 3 questions every company should ask while thinking about their marketing objectives for the year ahead. What are your answers to these 3 thought-provoking questions?
1) Did we achieve our marketing results this year? Look at the objectives you set for the year. What initiatives had the most success and how did they exceed your expectations? For those that didn’t achieve the results you expected, ask why – was it a function of ‘we tried something new and it just didn’t work’ or ‘we failed to execute the way we needed to’? Despite the amount of quantifiable information, marketing isn’t always a perfect science; sometimes activities don’t work. By making time to thoroughly assess performance and ask these questions, companies can gain more meaningful insights into what these results mean for the following year.
2) What did we learn from sales results this year that inform our marketing focus for next year? Take time to analyze sales data. Are there any new trends that may inform market opportunities that are currently untapped? Have there been changes in sales on long-standing products or services that have long been the cornerstone of your business? Sales and marketing are so closely aligned; thus, the more you can inform marketing with sales trends and insights, the stronger your marketing strategy and initiatives will be.
3) What new opportunities have emerged that we need to pursue? Over the course of any year, opportunities always arise – some small, some potentially game-changing. Whether it’s a product upgrade or going to market with a new service offering, potential opportunities need to be explored. If you’re not holding formal business planning sessions for the coming year, you should. These are the perfect forum to strategically discuss opportunities, assess the firm’s capabilities, and prioritize what to pursue based on market size, customer demand and ability to execute internally. These new opportunities will be core pillars of the marketing strategy and plan for the following year.
While there are many more questions to ask, these three are the foundation for a deep discussion on marketing and will fuel further discussion and questions. Ask yourself each question and use the answers to develop an effective marketing strategy and tactical plan for 2013. If you don’t currently have a marketing strategy or haven’t revisited one that was developed within the last three years, read my blog, Why B2B companies need to focus on marketing strategy before tactics, for some guidance.
If you need help developing your marketing strategy and plan for next year, contact us and we would be happy to discuss your needs.