We’re about to enter the fourth quarter of 2015, and that means it’s time to start marketing planning for 2016. Companies getting an early start on their marketing plan can get a jump on competitors and are better positioned going into the new year to win business.

This two-part series will help you put together an effective marketing plan for 2016 that fits your budget and aligns with your marketing goals. Part One focuses on evaluating your current marketing program and understanding the trends that will affect your strategy for 2016. Part Two, publishing next month, will offer tips for developing the optimal marketing plan.

How is your current plan performing?
In simplest terms, marketing programs have two purposes: to raise the visibility and reputation of your brand, products, and services; and to generate engagement opportunities for your sales teams. How are your programs doing on those two fronts?

Digital programs offer the inherent advantage of measurement through page views, clicks, downloads, conversions, and other trackable metrics. You also gain the advantage of connecting with technical professionals where they turn first to find suppliers, products, and services: the Internet.

Marketing tactics that deliver high branding relevancy combined with high engagement opportunities include your website, webinars, specialized search engines, online catalogs, trade shows, and e-newsletters.

Keep in mind when evaluating current programs that your customers typically have multiple interactions with your company and content before they make a final purchasing decision. They may meet you at a trade show, visit your website, click on an e-newsletter advertisement, watch a video, and attend a webinar all as part of their buying journey. Each of these touches contributes to the eventual sale—not just the last action they took before making a purchase decision. Be sure to track all of these activities to better understand how your marketing programs are performing.

What trends will impact your marketing choices?
In the early days of the digital era, manufacturers could get by simply by having a company website. This is no longer the case. Technical professionals now have more digital tools and sources of information to do their jobs better and more efficiently. They are exposed to more companies, are driven by personal digital preferences, have more power, and can choose from a variety of vendors when they are ready to buy.

This phenomenon, called the digital disruption, has significantly impacted the industrial marketing landscape. Rather than relying on a single channel, such as a company website, you should broaden and deepen your online presence to engage technical professionals in ways that match their searching and sourcing preferences. In addition, broadening your presence across multiple channels will help you fend off increased competition online, as increasing numbers of companies allocate more of their marketing dollars to digital media.

Diversifying your marketing spend and expanding your media program to multiple channels will get your name and brand front and center during the important early stages of the buying cycle when potential customers are looking, and produce more opportunities to build awareness and generate engagement opportunities. Manufacturers that can display their products and services simultaneously across multiple markets will have the best opportunity to gain new customers. This is known as the Cross Media Multiplier—integrated cross media campaigns perform better than single channel campaigns.

What is your company’s business plan for 2016?
If your company is planning to introduce new products, expand to new markets or customer segments, or launch other strategic initiatives, you will need to build your marketing plan to account for these milestones.

Now is the time to meet with executives to learn about the timing of new initiatives. You should also meet with sales leaders to understand revenue growth objectives. This will not only give you information you need to develop your marketing plan, it also demonstrates that you are proactive about developing a plan that supports your company’s goals and objectives.

It’s also time to start talking about budgets and gaining approvals. If you wait too long, you might be playing catch up and unable to solidify your marketing plan until the new year has already begun. Be ready to talk about what’s working and what isn’t in 2015, and how you can make improvements to be more effective in 2016.

2016 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit
IHS Engineering360 Media Solutions has created the Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you evaluate the effectiveness of your current marketing choices, calculate the value of existing marketing programs, understand changes in the marketing climate, and plan more effective prospect and client engagement strategies for 2016. Download your complimentary copy.

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