If your 2024 marketing plan ain’t rockin’, time to get walkin’
Your holiday parties are over, the office decorations are packed up, and your “ugly sweaters” won’t see the light of day for the next eleven months. Out with the old and in with the new!
Your New Year’s resolution is to bring in “one hundred billion” customers with Austin Power’s winning smile and a dazzling marketing strategy.
You remember. It’s the same dang resolution you made last year. And the year before. And the year before that…
Tired of repeating the fruitless resolutions of years past? Where—-despite your efforts—-you didn’t get everything done you wanted? Like that marketing plan you’d hoped to lock down. And that marketing budget that became a punchline by June.
Well, don’t panic. It’s not too late to start your marketing planning. At Outmark®, we know annual marketing preparation is a daunting feat, but check it out; in this blog, we’ve laid out the steps to get you started on the right foot. Beginning in order of priority:
Reflect on the past
Think about your goals, wins, and challenges this past year and how you would address them now, with 20/20 hindsight. Turn those lessons learned into actionable insights and goal-setting for this coming year.
Map your goals – make ‘em smart
Draft strong yet achievable goals that deliver your organization’s positioning, mission, and strategic plan. Map your goals to achieve your desired outcomes. The most important thing is to make these SMART goals. Asana states, “Writing SMART goals is all about breaking down your objectives into smaller, more manageable components that are easy to track and achieve.” You can think of it this way:
- S: Specific. Make your goals clear, straightforward, and definitive.
- M: Measurable. Use benchmarks, track your progress, and adjust strategies as needed.
- A: Achievable. Goals need to be realistic, something you can reasonably execute.
- R: Relevant. This is the big picture—why is your goal crucial to the business?
- T: Timebound. Clearly state the start and end of the project/goal. If it’s a long-term effort, establish milestone timelines.
Define your strategies and tactics
Now, the fun stuff where you craft specific strategies and tactics to help you achieve each goal. But don’t settle for the first few ideas that come to mind. Our founder, Patrick Byers, often says, “It takes ten good ideas to come up with one great one,” so get creative and think outside the box. Maybe idea #7 of 10 puts you on first base, but pulling in parts of ideas #3 and #5 makes it a grand slam.
The point is to come up with more strategy options than you need, then distill them down to your best strategies. Next, create a strategic plan to help your customers get what they need, achieve success, and avoid potential distractions. What are the short-term and specific tasks that you need to implement to make your goals happen?
Measure your success
Next, determine the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and track your progress. Review them regularly and adjust as needed. These adjustments allow you to be creative for your customers and address unforeseen issues.
Set your budget and assemble your team
Decide how much of your annual budget you want to allocate to each strategy, and include your team in this calculation. What can your current team do well, and what can you outsource? Outsourcing your marketing is a great way to “leave it to the experts” so you can focus on what you do best. No matter how talented your team is, it’s tough for them to be as good at things they do a few times per year as a person who does the same thing daily.
When it comes to budgeting, you’re not limited to traditional approaches. Zero-based budgeting is a great option because you don’t need to start with baseline assumptions. You can and should reference what you’ve done in the past, but you need to start from your objectives and build from there.
By being selective about what you pay for, you can ensure that you’re allocating your budget effectively, achieving the results you’re looking for.
At the end of the day, the key is to stay focused on your goals and to be strategic about how you invest your resources. By doing so, you can maximize your marketing campaigns’ impact and succeed in today’s competitive market.
To understand the three types of marketing plans and the key elements for each, check out our blog Mystified by marketing planning? We lay it all out for you, from inspirational ideas to SWOT analysis to pricing strategy.
Now for your 2024 marketing growth strategy
The list of growth trends forecasted for marketing in 2024 is staggering. From using AI to targeting Gen Z, it’s pretty easy to become overwhelmed by the choices, predictions, recommendations, and noise.
Outmark is on top of these trends, and we can help you grow – not (only) by what’s in vogue but also by our proven methodologies that work. We start by reviewing your goals and KPIs. Then, we target the customers you’ll be able to serve most profitably and search out the best ways to reach them. Next, we will assign you a custom-built marketing team that knows what they’re doing and works together seamlessly. Finally, we take your growth targets and bring them to life boldly.
We love statistics here, and this one’s a whopper: Studies show that businesses that use three or more channels for a marketing campaign can benefit from a 494% higher order rate than those that use a single-channel campaign. Say what? 494%?
Outmark’s business and marketing growth approach is based on rock-solid analysis. Our tactics include integrated marketing that pairs your brand with multiple channels and approaches, including communications strategy and execution, branding and design, content marketing, digital marketing, and promotional products.
Let’s get together, grab a coffee, and talk about your 2024 growth plan. We’re here to help.
Marketing Integrator Q&A: “How do you make marketing easier for clients?”
This month, we asked our Marketing Integrators (MIs) to answer, “How do you make marketing easier for clients?”
First up, Andrea Moretsky, who’s been with Outmark for nearly a decade, finds that “Organizations often struggle with creating content planning strategies. The first thing I tell our clients is that you don’t throw (content) spaghetti at the wall and hope it gets traction. You need a game plan.”
She further explains, “A well-defined marketing strategy is essential for creating content that resonates with your audience.”
Businesses must have content that follows SEO best practices, targets specific personas, tells a story, and aligns with their brand and SMART goals. So, if your competitors have a structured content creation, promotion, and audience engagement approach, shouldn’t you? Yes, of course you should.
We’ve published a list of 10 ideas to simplify your marketing, sharing some of our top recommendations learned over the past 25 years.
Do free marketing tools give your customers an authentic experience?
Did you know that Merriam-Webster announced that 2023’s word of the year was “authentic”? And with good reason. While AI, bots, and other digital tools are becoming ubiquitous in marketing, the actual content being (mass) produced is causing people to pause.
The word “authentic” dominated their site searches and lookup volume this past year. While it’s a high-volume lookup most years, “authentic” saw a substantial increase in 2023, driven by stories and conversations about AI, celebrity culture, identity, and social media.
Free marketing tools such as Chat GPT, Mailchimp, and others can be useful but have limitations. According to The Manifest, only 50% of small businesses use marketing automation software like Mailchimp and Hubspot due to their limited features. These tools do not provide advanced segmentation and personalization.
To stand out, businesses need to be genuine and tailor content to target customers exactly where they are, giving them exactly what they need.
Likewise, social media management tools like Buffer and Hootsuite offer free plans, but a study by Capterra states that 63% of marketers wrestle with the complexity of these tools. Folks are disappointed by limited scheduling options and usability across multiple accounts.
Let’s be clear…Outmark’s not against free marketing tools. But they’re not the end-all-be-all. When automated marketing tools help streamline internal and external communications and improve productivity, they can make daily tasks more efficient and less complex.
Just be realistic about their place. We can look at a website or article and tell with 99% accuracy (made-up statistics) if the content is AI-generated. For now, anyway, content technology like ChatGPT spits the same keywords and phrasing over and over again. Definitely not an “authentic” reading experience.
We have some fave marketing tools that we’ve shared in the past. Check out some of the best organizational tools for your business.
Here’s our take: free marketing tools are a great starting point, but often don’t consider your customers’ needs. For a more authentic customer experience, let your strategies and goals define the tools you use. After all, a tailored marketing strategy executed faithfully is worth its weight in gold. Every customer wants to feel valued and unique.
Keel Financial Partners: A “Deeper” marketing strategy
A successful website reflects the heart of your brand. So, each of the following elements is required to drive conversions:
A bold design
Content that delights and informs
Seamless user experience
Well-designed lead magnet
Lacking a web presence, start-up Keel Financial Partners entrusted us with their website marketing strategy.
We developed their positioning and tagline, “Deeper by Design,” inspired by their values and commitment to building long-term client relationships.
After researching competitor sites, we designed Keel’s web pages with images of their team and clients to convey their commitment to a personal connection. We also created a streamlined user experience with the addition of external client portals, making it easy for them to access resources.
As an additional element of their overall marketing strategy, we developed and designed a brand launch campaign to inspire Keel’s clients to get excited about financial success.
Back to the word “authentic” in the previous section, we work with our clients to make their marketing strategy meaningful and values-based so they resonate deeply with their customers and prospects.
Do your remote workers feel the love? Give ‘em great swag
We know…swag-shmag. As a new employee, have you ever received company swag that was a total disappointment because it was a waste of money, lacked thoughtfulness, or was utterly useless? Yeah, we’ve been there. It’s lame.
Working remotely definitely has its perks—work in your PJs, let your cat sit on your computer monitor – you get the picture. But let’s face it, sometimes we miss the office vibe. One way to make it tangible is by sharing your brand with your team. Who doesn’t love cuddling up with a company snuggie or sweatshirt? Don’t we all need a baseball cap for those bad hair days?
Boost team spirit like a rock star
It’s pretty obvious four years post-COVID that we—as corporate America—need to focus more on giving love to new-hire remote employees. Why do we need to make a special effort? A recent survey by Upwork predicts 36.2 million workers, or 22% of Americans, will be working remotely by 2025. So, if you thought remote work was going away, think again.
One of the best ways to onboard remote workers is to give them company merchandise or swag so they feel more connected to the mission and values of their new employer. Additionally, wearing “team colors” gives remote workers a sense of connection with colleagues, making them feel like they’re part of the group.
According to a survey by Postal, work-from-home care packages and self-care gifts were among the top corporate gift ideas for employees, aside from gift cards and company swag.
Additionally, Ashley Priebe Brown, onboarding program manager at Zapier, says “For remote onboarding, I’d say connecting to community and culture is the most important [thing] to be intentional about.”
Onboarding experiences for new hires are exciting challenges. Giving new hires SWAG helps them feel connected since in-office cues for soaking in the company culture aren’t readily available.
Precision swag boosts brand loyalty
Your swag should be much more than cheap tchotchkes. It’s about putting your brand in the hands of your team so they know you’re thinking about them. Companies that slap a logo on a plastic pen and call it good are missing the point and the potential for positive impact. For more info about on-brand swag, check out our blog, Does your swag belong in the big leagues?
Employees want something useful and valuable. Something that says, “Hey there, even though we’re not in the office together, we want you to be comfortable, healthy, and supported.” An ergonomic keyboard, a video conferencing light, or a mug-warming plate. All of these say more than, “Here’s your company-branded sh*t—-enjoy.”
The Outmark approach to strategic swag
When we source swag for our clients, we take a holistic view of the company mission and how they want their employees to feel: excited, loyal, secure, and important. Our definition of swag is “Strategically We All Grow,” and our approach ensures a sense of unity and brand presence.
Check out our Swag page for information on how we can help you design world-class swag.
Avoid confusing processes
Let’s talk about something we can all relate to: complicated internal processes. We’ve all experienced it, right? But did you know that overcomplicated processes can hinder productivity and team morale?
According to a recent poll by Lucid, half of the respondents (45%) use five or more productivity applications at work, and 42% of workers find it frustrating to have too many tools at their disposal. Yikes!
In another survey, McKinsey reported that 40% of CEOs and their teams point to complex organizational structure as a cause of inefficiency, and a similar proportion cites unclear roles and responsibilities. “Deploying resources more effectively to where they matter the most promises substantial benefits, including improved organizational health, higher shareholder returns, and better and faster decisions.”
It’s not uncommon for organizations to grapple with overcomplicated internal processes. While often implemented to make things easier, processes can become an obstacle to efficiency if over-orchestrated. Don’t compromise productivity and a positive work environment for efficiency’s sake.
At Outmark, we believe in putting people first and avoiding confusing processes. It’s one of the reasons why we founded Outsourced Marketing back in 1997. It’s a strategic approach that simplifies your business marketing activities and allows your internal teams to focus on what they do best.
We encourage our clients to foster a people-before-process outlook. And that’s why we’re so excited about outsourced marketing. It’s a strategic way to simplify complex processes, streamline business marketing activities, and allow internal teams to concentrate on their core competencies.
For real, who doesn’t want to make their lives easier?
Get to Know Your Customers Day: Tips for nurturing your customer relationships
Get to Know Your Customers Day is on January 18th, 2023. Outmark is thrilled to celebrate this occasion because we’re so passionate about customer research and helping make the voice of the customer core to our client’s messaging. It also plays to our dedication to our clients, nurturing relationships, and showing appreciation for our client’s partnership and loyalty.
We’ve provided tips on how to make the most of this day for your customers, along with recommendations on keeping the momentum going throughout the year. From collecting customer feedback to creating personalized experiences, we cover it all. Read our blog post to learn more.