How to Build Next Year's Marketing Plan
December 4, 2020
It’s the end of the year, let’s wind down, but don’t wind down your marketing efforts.
Bec: Well, it’s almost the end of the year here at Mash Pod [SP], but don’t worry we’ve got you for a couple more episodes. Enjoy. So Christmas and New Year are fast approaching and we want to talk about what you as a business need to sort of do to prepare for the holiday season and beyond, what’s gonna happen in 2021. I’m joined by Sharney today. Hello, Sharney?
Sharney: Hello, Bec
Bec: Hi. So what are the top few things businesses are gonna need to do to prepare for the upcoming holiday season?
Sharney: Glad you asked. I have been working with a lot of our clients on this at the moment. Some of the key themes that I think we’re finding that businesses tend to forget till the last minute is things such as updating their trading hours because there are many places to update it, your website, your social media, your Google My Business listing. So that’s one of the things that I think is really key for businesses because it creates a really bad user experience if they’re rocking up at the store and it’s not open or they’re calling and they’re not answering. And also for business owners is wanting to take a bit of a break if they’re getting inundated with calls and emails because people think they’re open when they’re actually closed. So that’s a bit of a number one priority, I would think.
Bec: That sounds pretty important to me.
Sharney: Number two priority, I would say is coming into the holiday period is actually a really good time to start sort of doing a little bit of a recap and re-assess because we’re always in a mad rush right up until about mid-December and that’s when things often start to slow down, unless you’re in retail, of course.
Bec: Yes and everyone is at that point, they’re like, “Oh, gosh, it’s almost the end of the year what do I do next?”
Sharney: So I find that we start, you know, as a business, I start preparing template for our end of year reviews for all of our clients. So that’s when I start thinking about, okay, what kind of big things have happened this year? What kind of information do I need for all departments, such as SEO, such as ad-words, such as social media? So that I can then send it out to the team and go, “All right, I need all these answers for all these questions,” and compile it into a report that can then educate our clients to say, “Hey, here’s the year in review, here’s some of the key things that happened, here’s some of the problems, here’s some of the successes, here’s some strategies that we’re thinking for the new year.” In that way, at least they can come into the new year feeling a bit refreshed knowing that, “Okay, this is what happened, this is where we’re at, this is where we want to go.”
Bec: And that’s super important because if you don’t have a year-long plan then you can sort of do way too many ad hoc things and nothing gets measured which is really bad with marketing.
Sharney: And it’s something that small businesses, a lot of our clients tend to fall into that trap because they don’t have a marketing plan, they don’t even have a set budget a lot of the time. And so what happens is they get into that ad hoc decision-making process of they get a call from someone, for whatever reason, they relate to that call or they’ve called at the right time or the offer seems too good to refuse and so they sign up with this option. And then they sign up for something else, but they don’t really know whether it’s working or what they’re actually doing.
I actually talked to a client today with exactly that, he’s like, “Oh, yeah, I’ve got some people doing some SEO for me, but I don’t really know what they’re doing, I don’t really have a marketing budget. These are my competitors, and I want to be on the first page of Google with them but I don’t have a budget, I don’t know the difference between Google AdWords and SEO.” And that’s fine. So I went through that process with him, but I think it’s a really important part of business success is having a bit of marketing plan so that you’re not in that trap of making those ad hoc decisions, which sometimes are not made when you step back where you can get caught up in the sale. It’s so easy to do. I mean, I’m a sucker for it myself as well.
Bec: There are so many cool ideas out there and it’s really easy to go, “Oh, my gosh, this sounds like the answer to everything,” without considering whether it works with your existing marketing or how it works with it. So in your example there, the client wasn’t sure what the difference between ads and SEO was. Sometimes this end of year review is good just to reinforce what those things are and if they don’t have it, how it could work in the future if they wanted to choose that going forward.
Sharney: Absolutely. And I’ve actually, I know other agency owners that when they do these strategies they often charge up to $3,000 because it’s a big 20 or 30-page process. It takes two days and then they implement them and I thought, wow, what value will you offer our clients? Because we just do it out of love, we do it for all of our clients.
Bec: Yeah, and they love us too.
Sharney: So that’s something that I think our customers get a lot of value from because we do that as part of the love, as part of our family, because we want our clients have the best and we want them to have that education because we know that essentially knowledge is power. And it’s not to say that we’re trying to hold power over anybody, not at all, but it’s so much easier to make the right decision when you have all the facts and you’re not hearing it from one person, one side.
Bec: Or one brand as well.
Sharney: Yes, exactly.
Bec: You know, we’ve had a client recently who’s been sold to by a certain big brand and all of their evidence was basically something written by them, us versus all of the other platforms out there, this is why we’re the greatest.
Sharney: Great strategy.
Bec: Isn’t it? Isn’t it? It’s like, “We’re great, just ask us.” But the thing is that it is kind of effective because they know their own product so well, so they research it beautifully and then put it into a table with all of their own competitors and then just sort of have a tick box there going, “Oh, no, all of our competitors don’t do this as much as we do.” But, you know, the poor client or whoever’s looking to purchase or research it might not know the difference and might not realize that look some of these great features are useless to you whereas maybe a feature from this other platform is actually better, so that’s again where that education comes in. We can sort of critically assess and go, “Okay, well, we don’t work for these people, so we don’t really care. We just know that this is gonna work for you better than this and if you want ease of use, try this,” and so on and so forth.
Sharney: Absolutely. And that’s I guess something that Mash has always stood for is that open transparency, education for our clients, added value in terms of giving them that extra research, you know, we put our heart and soul into everything we do. But really it just comes down to how much value it is for small businesses, especially as you said coming into this time of year because… Look, I’m no different to anyone else, I find, and you’ll notice every Christmas, New Year break is when I spend the time going, okay, what do I want to change about Mash? And what happened this last year? How can we be better? What new systems can we try?
Bec: Yes, oh, my gosh.
Sharney: And every January, the team get all this enthusiasm from me to say, oh, we’re gonna try this and we’re gonna do this and we’re gonna do that. So I think most businesses are in that stage because all year we work in the business, it’s really hard to work on the business, but when we have that downtime, that’s actually when we have time to sort of take a step back and look holistically at, “Okay, how has the business performed this year? Am I happy with it? What do I want to change? What direction do I want to go in?” So it’s a perfect time. And mid-December to mid-January I find is the perfect time to sort of sit down and work out how the business has performed, how the marketing has performed. What you can potentially look at doing next year.
I think 2021 is gonna be a really interesting year because 2020 turned the world on its head and it had a profound reaction to every type of business really, I mean, some have skyrocketed and others have really struggled and gone under even. So 2021, I think you now then look to talking about having all these solutions and cures and travel is opening back up again. So I think 2021 is gonna be a year where everyone’s just going to really want to charge forward because it’s that survival point. We’ve been treading water for the last 12 months and it’s gonna be a ride or die time scenario for 2021. So I think it’s even more important this year than any other that businesses really know where they’re gonna spend their money and they spend it wisely.
Bec: And it’s also a great time for even just this normal review, but adding on maybe a pivot review as well because so many things have changed, there’s actually a lot more options as well. I was reading recently that, you know, e-commerce has changed and digital delivery of products has just changed so many things, you know, so many businesses that wouldn’t normally deliver something digitally, now are. So the ones that haven’t yet done that are sort of realizing 2021 is gonna be the year of digital commerce and not necessarily e-commerce with like retail, it could be almost anything that they do online.
Sharney: And one of our clients is a trainer and they did exactly that. They went from having training rooms to going, okay, guys, we need to turn this around really quickly and we need to have digital training sessions now.
Bec: Yes. So it’s gonna be a time to refine that offering and say, what else is out there? Because a lot of the bigger brands like, and, you know, things like Zoom and there’s a whole bunch of other digital platforms for delivery popping up everywhere. You know, it’s gonna be a question of what’s the best way of doing this? What’s the best way of providing my customers with what I can give them? So it’s gonna be exciting. I think it’s a good time for everyone to get excited and motivated again to almost, not rebuild their business, but like, you know, rebirth it, I suppose.
Sharney: Reassess and replan and really give it the best chance of success and growth for 2021, which I think we all need after the challenges we’ve all had to face in 2020.
Bec: Yes, even though it is just a number I feel, you know, just having that clean tick over from midnight to the new year is such a cathartic thing.
Sharney: Looking into what we need to do to plan key takeouts for business owners, I think that this time of year is one, make sure you’re updating all your opening hours, operational hours, not just on your website, but on your social media and on your Google My Business listing and anywhere else that you’ve got opening hours listed, I think that’s a number one priority people need to remember to do.
Sharney: Number two, I think marketing and review. Maybe you book it in with somebody when you give us a call, whether you just sit down yourself and create a spreadsheet, really having to think about what’s worked, what hasn’t worked in 2020 and plan out what you want to do in 2021 because the thing is if you leave it… Because, you know, a lot of pieces defining now we’ll just wait till the new year but if you wait until mid-January to get the ball rolling, before you know it you’re full swing into the year and it hasn’t been done and you’ve got another year then when there’s potential lost opportunity because the planning wasn’t done now.
Sharney: Because it’s easy to put off when you’re getting back into things.
Bec: Yep. So there’s that one. So planning, updating business hours.
Bec: I’d like to add an extra one. Any advertising that you currently have, be it Google Ads or Facebook or Instagram, have a look at that messaging and make sure it’s aligned with all of the other things you just said, your opening hours, what you’re offering if you’ve got post-Christmas sales coming up, things like that, so that’s all stuff to sort of do now.
Sharney: Yep, absolutely. And also just on that ads, moving forward from that, if you’re running ads, not for retail, not retail sale ads, but if you’re generally running Google AdWords, do you need to think about pausing it or reducing your budget, is someone gonna be there to be taking your leads or not? I mean, we often find that traffic will generally drop anyway at this time of year unless you’re in retail or travel, but that’s another thing to think about is just give your Google AdWords manager a call and say, “Hi, you know, traditionally, what kind of traffic drops can I expect?” You know, if you’re gonna be out of town and no one is gonna be answering, find your emails, and really you’re best off to just pause it for a couple of weeks, save the budget.
Bec: Yeah, absolutely.
Sharney: So they’re the key three things people need to be thinking about.
Bec: Yep, I think those are all pretty good and pretty significant and a lot of them are quite easy to achieve as well. You sort of need to take an hour or so to sit down and really think about it or pass it on to your agency and make sure they’re onto it.
Sharney: Absolutely, definitely hold them accountable.
Bec: Cool. All right. Well, thank you for chatting with me today, Sharney. And we’ll talk to everyone next week.