Your 2012 Marketing Plan: Dream Big & Be Real

2011 is winding down, the holidays are in full swing, and perhaps you’re feeling lulled into marketing complacency by a shortbread cookie coma. Put the cookie down! You’ve got less than two weeks to sharpen up and map out next year’s Marketing Plan so you’re all set for success come January 1. Here are a few questions to consider, to help you get you ready for a successful 2012.

1. (Duh) What do you want to achieve in 2012?

A higher business profile? More PR coverage? Stronger social media engagement? As you carefully consider what you want to achieve via marketing in the coming year, take a look at some of the weak spots that may need addressing. We often find the biggest culprit is less-than-effective branding. Be honest: Does your branding need help? Do your website or even your logo need a makeover in order to reflect who you are as a business? These are fickle times we’re in and if your corporate look isn’t strongly reflecting your expertise and offering, you may be loosing out on an important segment of your target audience.

Next, take a closer look at the platforms you’re currently using. Are they effective? Are you on Twitter, FB, Flikr, Google +, have a website and a blog but not enough time to attend to all of these platforms?

This brings me to question #2…

2. What do you have the budget and time to do … really?

Many of us have a tough time grasping what we really, actually have the time to accomplish. We want to do it all, but sometimes this comes at the expense of doing anything really well. For some projects and businesses, it makes more sense to focus on one or two areas and get really strategic i.e.  Focus on managing a regular blog post and Twitter account or on a traditional PR strategy and maintaining a great website.

I recommend you develop a 2012 Marketing Calendar and map out all of the marketing activities you plan to pursue next year. Don’t leave anything out. Include your scheduled blog posts, advertising, special contests, community partnerships, events you’ll participate in, speaking engagements and any other activities you’ll pursue. When you see it all on a calendar, month by month, week by week, the overview will help you to get realistic about the time and budget you’ll need to invest in all these activities and you’ll soon see clearly what it makes the most sense to focus on.

3. Have you considered all your options?

It’s true, the marketing world is changing at a rapid pace. We see new tools and technologies emerging daily, promising to make our endeavors easier. However, the principles of marketing remain the same as does your ultimate objective: to reach and engage your target audience, and to set yourself apart from your competition in a meaningful way.

Before 2012 hits, take some time to brainstorm all of the marketing strategies available to you and consider if there are any that could serve you well in reaching your goals. Perhaps it’s time to shift your priorities.

Here are a few questions to help you consider your options:

• Are there any awards you or your business could apply for? • Is there an exciting media story (ies) on the horizon that you could be creating a PR campaign around? • Do you need to start advertising or consider new ad outlets- perhaps online magazines, industry-specific magazines, or smaller, more niche publications or blogs? • Have you considered developing community partnerships or a cross-promotional campaign as a way to promote your company while also building valuable partnerships? • What about writing an advice column for an industry publication or newspaper?

When it comes to marketing, it sometimes seems like the sky’s the limit. However, you are indeed limited by the amount of time and budget you have at your disposal. Invest some time now in making the most of what you’ve got to work with in 2012 and at this time next year, you’ll be toasting your 2012 marketing accomplishments!