88257472As discussed in our initial post in our 2015 sales and marketing planning series last week, "Kicking off 2015 Planning By Reviewing Key Performance Indicators", 2015 is nipping at our heels as we near the end of summer, which means 2015 marketing planning must be on your mind.

If it's not yet it will be soon enough – September is officially here!

In Greg's initial post he touched on the importance of identifying the appropriate Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) in order to assess the effectiveness of your 2014 marketing performance. 

Today's post will build off of this concept to help you uncover the gap between your 2015 marketing goals and your current plans (and current performance), so you can properly shift gears for next year with some new thinking and a new set of activities that will ensure you reach those goals – assuming you have to work with the same budget you're operating with now.

Outlining Your 2015 Goals

The best place to start with outlining your marketing goals is fully understanding the organization's business goals for the coming year. These may be a specific revenue growth percentage, further penetrating an existing market, breaking into new markets, improving profitability overall as an organization, and anything else in between. Assuming your leadership has formalized these goals (meaning, they're written down) and communicated them to sales and marketing you should have a basis for forming specific marketing goals.

Depending on how your organization is structured it's an awesome thing if you can work together between sales and marketing to form goals that hold both teams accountable and in position to support one another.

So, let's say your CEO has charged sales and marketing with increasing sales by 10% in a specific business segment. You'll likely need to determine: 

  • What's the customer mix look like now in this segment?
  • Is there potential to encourage additional or more frequent sales with these current customers?
  • What's the average revenue with a new or existing customer in this segment?
  • Knowing the average revenue, how many new sales or customers are needed to achieve the 10% goal?

You get the idea. Asking these types of questions helps you uncover how you should tackle achieving this business goal, and then helps you formulate specific marketing goals to achieve it.

Evaluate Your Current Marketing Activities

As you begin to build out a solid list of specific marketing goals you may begin to have that "Oh, Sh*t" moment. That moment when your hands get sweaty, your stomach drops, and your heart begins to race.

How in God's name are you going to achieve these aggressive goals, in order to meet your end of the commitment with your sales team, in order to deliver qualified leads and specific new business opportunities your sales team can act on and close?!

  • For one, stop relying on the same old marketing activities, thinking "they gotta work eventually" if they continue to deliver weak or non-existent results. This directly relates to the lessons you learn when conducting a sales and marketing review, as noted in our previous post in this series. It may be hard letting go of certain activities but you'll thank yourself later if you redivert resources elsewhere with better gains.
  • If you can't easily track the success of specific activities, honestly evaluate if the only person who'd notice you pulling the plug is the sales rep you buy the media space, marketing tool, or services from.
  • Per Greg's previous post, take a hard look at KPIs you're tracking (or should be tracking), such as your website performance and current MQL & SQL leads generated through your marketing performance. See room for improvement
  • If you've been neglecting your website the past few years, or decade, now is the time to shift your focus and give it the attention it deserves. With the right updates in areas where it matters most and adopting certain protocols, you could be sitting on a lead magnet!
  • Lastly, stop avoiding social media. No matter what industry you're in and the type of customers you're looking to attract, chances are they're engaged in discussions and connecting with peers on LinkedIn, watching product demo videos on YouTube, tracking news feeds on Twitter at industry events, or using other social media to advance their knowledge and skills.

Closing The Gap

Ok, you've outlined some specific marketing goals that are tied to your business goals. And you've evaluated and critiqued your current activities and plans using some form of KPIs, to determine what's working, what needs to be better supported with additional resources, and what needs to be dropped like a bad habit.

At this point you should be able to recognize the gap. If your current plans now are resulting in a 5% decline from last year's results, what makes you think it's going to get any better if you continue to do more of the same?

Depending on the size of the gap, you may be having another one of those panic moments mentioned earlier. Deep breaths, my friend. This is a healthy exercise. Here's the steps to close the gap:

Step 1: 

Clearly outline those activities that aren't working. As mentioned above, by determining KPIs to measure effectiveness you should be able to easily identify the bad eggs.

Step 2:

Make the decision to actually let go and stop spending your budget on those activities.

Step 3:

Make the commitment to adopt new, or double down on existing, activities and strategies that you've determined will yield greater results.

If you've followed this process correctly you now have some budget that is freed up from activities you're confident need to be dropped in the coming year. For example, lets say your overall marketing budget is $250,000 and of that budget you've identified $150,000 that needs to remain in place as the basis of your marketing activities. On the flip side, you've identified $100,000 that can be redirected to new initiatives or put towards activities that haven't been properly funded to produce even greater results.

Scenario:

Using your website and current online activities as an example, let's say your company had started a blog two years ago. You posted a handful of articles over a four month period and it helped attract a little additional traffic to your site, but your team ran out of steam before you could measure any impact on your business. 

As for your website overall, you know it would benefit from an updated look and some fresh content, such as better product photos and some compelling case studies, and you estimate by adding some free content resources that are gated behind conversion forms, you could be converting around 1.5% of traffic into leads if also supported with consistent blog articles.

Your traffic averages around 1,500 visits per month, so that's only 22.5 leads per month, but you're currently only getting 1-2 leads per month since your outdated website turns them away and doesn't offer any conversion opportunities other than a Contact Us form.

Imagine the impact you could have by:

  • Deploying some budget towards refreshing the site's design to make it look more 2015 and less 2007
  • Adding some fresh content that shows your latest products with updated descriptions and modern photos
  • Incorporating relevant case studies that demonstrate your credibility as well as two white papers or eBooks that help your prospects solve a problem
  • Budgeting to have a writer interview and write weekly blog articles for your team – which will help to attract more visitors to your website

Even if your sales team is only able to close 5% of these 22.5 leads (meaning only 1 new customer) in a 6-month period, but the average revenue per new customer is $130,000, chances are you and your management will see the value and results of deploying budget in this area.

It may sound intimidating going through this process, but think how much better you'll feel coming to these realizations now compared to mid-next year when you realize your plans aren't getting you to where you need to be. Now's the time to identify where you need to change directions to make an impact for 2015.

Continue to follow our 2015 Sales & Marketing Planning Series throughout the month of September, where we'll be discussing additional topics that will guide you through this process so you're primed for developing a solid plan for next year that you can confidently rely on to help achieve your specific goals.

This post originally appeared on the Weidert Group's Whole Brain Marketing Blog. The Weidert Group is a HubSpot Partner located in Appleton, WI.

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Originally published Sep 8, 2014 10:00:00 AM, updated October 20 2016