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How to Prepare Your Marketing for 2017

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It’s already the end of the year. This is often the time of year when marketing managers are running around trying to finalize their budgets and plans for 2017 before the C-suite goes on their holiday vacations. Whether you are a seasoned B2B marketing professional or it’s your first time experiencing the excitement, we have four tips to help.

Show Me the Money

Yes, this tip harkens back to a rom-com starring Tom Cruise, Cuba Gooding Jr., and Renee Zellweger. When it comes to preparing for next year, you need to see what has worked this year. Show me where the money came from.

If you’ve implemented Google Analytics tracking on your website and you have a lead management system that tracks where your leads came from, this is a snap. Look at where the majority of leads came from. Now, look at where the quality leads came from. These may not be the same sources.

For example, if you ran LinkedIn ads, AdWords campaigns, and Bing ads – look at the leads generated by all three sources. AdWords may have sent the most leads, but Bing ads may have sent the highest quality leads that converted. Ideally, you are looking for efficient sources of leads.

Summary: Review your metrics, see what worked, and determine what didn’t work.

It’s a Whole New World

Technology, design, sales methods, messaging, audiences, and platforms all change and evolve. Once you know what has worked in the past for your B2B marketing efforts, it’s time to see what else is out there. New social media and video sharing platforms seem to launch almost every day. Are you using the most current platforms to reach your audience?

Now, please note that we are not telling you to go and try every new platform, approach, or technology out there. Rather, it’s a good time of the year to see what is new and what you could integrate into your B2B marketing strategy.

For example, if you are buying a lot of ad space through specific publications like Forbes or Entrepreneur, is it time to consider a programmatic advertising platform? Or, if you have a specific list of target accounts your sales team is working on, does an account-based marketing campaign make sense to supplement their efforts? If your sales efforts have focused primarily on direct mail and brochures, is it time to revamp your website and incorporate a digital newsletter?

Summary: See what’s new and if it is relevant.

Stop, Collaborate & Listen.

The end-of-year rush to put together a budget and strategy for next year’s marketing efforts doesn’t sound like the best time to slow down and listen, but it is. As a marketer, you are more likely to get support from sales, customer service, and delivery if you involve them in the overall process. As such, we recommend taking a quick breather from your planning to get input from other departments in your organization.

This does not need to be a day-long retreat where everyone does trust falls. Rather, it should be a one to two-hour meeting that involves key people (not necessarily department heads) from each department to provide input on what clients like, don’t like, and would find useful. These sessions are particularly helpful for creating an editorial calendar for blogging. However, in terms of an overall B2B marketing strategy, this meeting can help you discover where there may be holes in the marketing strategy or to simply get buy-in that the strategy works. We’ve always found at least one, typically good, surprise in these types of meetings.

Summary: Get input from each department.

Put a Plan in Place

Strategic planning for marketing can seem like an overwhelming bear of a task. However, like any strategy, the trick is to break it up into larger goals and then work backward from there. Armed with all the data from the previous three steps, you can determine your main goals for your strategies. From there, break down what campaigns will be used to accomplish those goals and what channels to target within each campaign. We find it’s helpful to have a marketing strategy and budget that focuses on monthly campaigns and includes an editorial calendar for content.

Summary: Write up a strategy and identify specific goals you hope to achieve.

What do you find to be your biggest challenge for marketing in 2017?