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14 Tips for Developing a Smart Marketing Strategy in 2014

180778925Did you have a good holiday? Got some well-deserved rest and relaxation with your family and friends? Managed to break your email and texting addiction for a few days?

Well, it’s time to shake off the “Egg Nog Fog” and get back in the swing of things!

We recommend that you start off by gathering your sales and marketing team together for a series of planning sessions to get everyone aligned and going in the same direction.

To get you started, we’ve put together this list of steps you can take to get your company going in the right direction for 2014!

How to Develop Your 2014 Sales and Marketing Strategy

1) Analyze Your 2013 Sales & Revenue Trends

Where did your sales and revenue come from in 2013? Is most of your revenue from existing customers, or new customers? How long was your average sales cycle? Who were your best (and worst) customers - why? What are your best lead sources? Are prospects getting stuck anywhere in the sales cycle? Why did you lose the opportunities you think you should have won? Could your close rate be improved? Document your lessons learned, and start thinking about improvements you’d like to make in 2014.

2) Analyze Your 2013 Marketing Trends

How much traffic did your website get? How many leads did you generate online and offline? What’s your conversion rate? Are you happy with the return you’re getting on your investment?

3) Define Your One-year Company Vision

Where do you picture your company by the end of 2014? Write a one-page description of what things will look like 12 months from now - be specific, and don’t be afraid to dream big! Don’t forget to include the ideal picture of what your sales and marketing would look like if you had a magic wand!

4) Set Your Company Priorities & Goals for 2014

What’s standing in the way of achieving your vision? What projects need to get done in order to achieve your vision? Make a list, and pick 3-4 things to focus on in the first quarter. How are you going to measure success? Make sure you have metrics that you can track!

5) Review & Update Your Ideal Customer Profile

Look back your best customers and make sure you identify the characteristics that make them profitable and enjoyable to work with. Make sure your ideal customer profile is accurate and reflects the kinds of customers who will help you reach your 2014 growth goals.

6) Check Out What Your Competitors Have Been Up To

You accomplished a lot in 2013 - chances are your competitors have been busy too! Get into intelligence gathering mode and complete an analysis of your top three or four competitors. Take a look at their websites to see what may have changed, look at their company profiles on LinkedIn, and spend some time on Google looking for news and press mentions. Run their websites through the HubSpot marketing grader and see how their online presence compares to yours.

7) Confirm Your Differentiators

Make sure you are clear on what makes you different from your competitors. Talk to some of your customers and find out why they chose to buy from you - and what could make them switch teams and buy from your competitors instead.

8) Review & Organize Your Marketing Collateral

Make sure that your printed and digital marketing materials are written and designed to attract your ideal customers and communicate your company’s unique qualities to prospects and customers. Make sure copyright dates are updated, that your style guidelines are being followed, and that everyone on your sales team is using the right version!

9) Review Your Website & Online Marketing

Take a look at your website and social media channels to make sure that are designed to attract and educate your ideal customer. Is your branding and messaging consistent? Are you engaging with the right target audience? Is your content compelling and educational? TIP: HubSpot’s Marketing Grader can give you a quick snapshot of what you’re doing right, and where you could improve.

10) Review & Document Your Sales Process

Is your sales process set up to close the quality and quantity of customers you need to reach your company’s growth goals? Does everyone on your sales team follow the same process for qualifying and nurturing prospects? Is your process documented? Is your CRM (customer relationship management) system set up to support your process efficiently and effectively?

11) Review Your Proposal Templates

Ask a colleague in another department (or company) to review your proposal templates to make sure everything is as clear as you think it is. Be sure everyone is using standard language where appropriate, and consider using a tool like BidSketch to streamline your process.

12) Identify Gaps in Your Sales & Marketing

Document any issues you uncover while you’re reviewing your collateral, processes, and templates. Look for “dark pools” - areas of your process where prospects or customers get lost or ignored due to lack of time/energy/resources.

13) Document Your Sales & Marketing Strategy

Prioritize the issues you have identified and develop a phased approach to tackling them over the next four quarters. Depending on the issues you have identified, you may need to develop tactical plans for content/inbound marketing, social media, lead generation, lead nurturing, or account development.

14) Track Your Progress & Evolve Your Tactics

Make sure you have metrics defined for measuring success, and have assigned individual team members to be accountable for solving each issue. Set up regular meetings to review progress, identify and solve issues, and align activities across teams. Learn from your mistakes and victories, and evolve your tactics as needed to maintain your traction!

Obviously, there’s a lot of work to do here, and it can be tough to be objective about your own company when you’re so close to it. Some companies choose to engage a consultant or agency to facilitate this process for them, and to take on some of the workload so the process can be completed more quickly and efficiently.

If you’d like to try it yourself, we go into more detail about each of these steps in our eBook, Get Sales & Marketing Traction with Inbound. If you’re not sure if you need assistance, please feel free to leave a comment  below or contact us with any questions you have.

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