We know what you’re thinking: Is it that time already? Yes, it is. The year passes quickly. Even though you’re deep into executing this year’s marketing programs, we’re about to enter the fourth quarter of 2016 and that means it’s time to start marketing planning for 2017.
It’s best to proactively plan your marketing efforts and gather evidence to justify your expected expenditures. This way you can receive executive endorsement and be ready to go when the timing is right. Companies getting an early start on their marketing plan can get a jump on competitors and will be better positioned going into the new year to win business.
This two-part series (Part 2 next month) will help you create an effective marketing plan for 2017 that aligns with market and customer trends, fits your budget, and helps achieve your marketing goals. Part 1 focuses on evaluating your current marketing program and understanding the trends that will affect your strategy for 2017. Part 2, next month, will offer tips to help you develop the optimal marketing plan.
Assess performance of your current plan
How are your current marketing programs performing? The complimentary “2017 Industrial Planning Marketing Kit” includes a number of tools to help you measure the performance of your marketing programs. It has a chart to plot the engagement and branding capabilities of your current programs and to identify gaps, a reference table to measure the quality of your contacts and inquiries, and a matrix to help you analyze the effectiveness of your expenditures across various media channels.
Access your complimentary copy of the “2017 Industrial Planning Marketing Kit” here.
If you are deploying any marketing program that you can’t measure, you’re taking a huge risk because you have no idea if you’re wasting resources that could be better invested in measurable programs. Measurability is just one of many reasons why industrial marketers are increasing their use of digital media. Digital marketing 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.
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 properly evaluate marketing performance.
Understand how trends impact your marketing choices
The trend in the industrial sector—in all corners of the B2B economy—is toward digital. According to the research firm Outsell, digital B2B spending outweighs other B2B investments by two times or more.
Today, technical professionals have a broad portfolio of 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 in the buying process, and can choose from a variety of vendors when they are ready to make a purchase decision.
When customers have many tools at their disposal, marketers can’t rely 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. General search engines, websites, online catalogs, e-newsletters, webinars, and social media are some of the popular channels engineers use to source information and research purchases. Broadening your presence across multiple channels will also help you fend off increased competition online, as increasing numbers of companies allocate more of their marketing dollars to digital media.
Assess your content
Eighty-eight percent of B2B marketers use content marketing, according to 2016 research conducted jointly by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs. And in the words of renowned digital marketing strategist Lee Odden, “Content isn’t king. It’s the kingdom.” Almost all effective marketing revolves around the ability to deliver relevant content.
To avoid long lead times, now is the time to audit your content and determine what content you will need to create, refine, or repurpose to support your 2017 marketing plan and goals. Also make sure your marketing collateral and website are up-to-date with current messaging and the latest product versions.
Align with your company’s 2017 business plan
If your company is planning to introduce new products, expand to new markets or customer segments, or launch other strategic initiatives in 2017, you will need to build your marketing plan and create content to account for these initiatives.
Meet with executives to learn about the timing of new plans. You should also meet with sales leaders to understand revenue growth objectives. This will not only give you information you need to create your marketing plan, it will demonstrate 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 end up 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 2016, and how you can make improvements to be more effective in 2017.
2017 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit
IEEE Engineering360 Media Solutions created the 2017 Industrial Marketing Planning Kit to help you develop an effective marketing plan that targets your audience of engineering and technical professionals. Add this valuable resource to your 2017 planning efforts today. Click here to download.