5 Steps to Plan Your 2024 Marketing

Washington, D.C. was always my favorite place to take a school trip. The majestic architecture and beautiful landscaping blended powerfully with a pervasive feeling of history. I loved seeing my sense of wonder mirrored in my students’ eyes.

One factor above all others determined the success of a trip to Washington: planning. The most successful trip was the one I planned meticulously. To prepare for that trip, I drove the route we would take. I timed the walks on each tour. I visited every tourist site to orient myself. And the trip day went smoothly.

And the trips that didn’t go so well? Those were the ones for which I didn’t do much preparation. I waited until the last minute to start planning. I didn’t go on a planning trip. I relied on my knowledge from previous trips to get me through the next trip. And those trips didn’t go very smoothly. Without planning and up-to-date information, we faced more surprises and disappointments, and I lacked the flexibility to pivot with those changes.

Did you know that most businesses will not take the time to thoroughly plan their marketing for the next year? Many companies plan their marketing year just as I “planned” my less successful school trips to Washington. They face their marketing challenges month-by-month or day-by-day and rely on their previous marketing efforts to get them through the year.

Strong businesses don’t happen by accident; they happen by planning. Successful marketing requires careful planning. It requires thinking ahead to the coming year and researching current market trends. 

Seize the opportunity your competitors are handing you. Carefully plan your marketing and position your company to succeed in 2024.

1. Evaluate

Start by evaluating your marketing results from the past year. 

  • How much did you invest in marketing? 
  • What were your sales? 
  • What percentage of sales has been reinvested in marketing? 
  • What was the return on your investment (ROI)? 
  • Which advertising mediums have been performing well and should receive a more significant share of the budget; conversely, which should be minimized or eliminated? 
  • Are your clients happy? 
  • Which services or products are making them happy and which are making them dissatisfied? 
  • How can you build on your strengths and counteract your weaknesses?

Next, evaluate your place in the market. 

  • What is your unique selling proposition? 
  • What sets you apart from your competition? Is it still valid, or have your competitors caught up? Remember that your competitive advantages, besides the actual product differences, can include providing better customer service, producing superior craftsmanship, or catering to a niche customer base.
  • Who are your target customers? Are they still the same as they were a year ago? 
  • Are you successfully marketing to your target customers?
  • How has the market been changing? 
  • How do you expect it to keep changing? 
  • Is your product (or service) being left behind as the world changes around it? 
  • Should you improve your product by developing it further? 

2. Update

Begin by updating your product or service offerings. Does your lineup have gaps that force your clients to go elsewhere for something you could easily supply? Maybe a new customer group has begun using your product for an application you never envisioned–begin marketing to them. On the other hand, you might need to discontinue offerings that distract you from your core strengths. You don’t want to be a jack-of-all-trades who masters none. 

Secondly, update your pricing. Begin by putting last year’s cost calculations out of sight and starting from a clean slate. List the key value points for your industry, such as quality, size, functionality, and delivery time. For each of your key points, chart yourself against your competitors to compare your competitors’ pricing to the value they deliver.

Once you have a picture of how you stack up against your competition, price your services or products accordingly. If your product is better, you should price it that way. Why? Price is the shopper’s single most significant indicator of value. Low pricing creates the expectation of low value. You may even find yourself selling more of a product after you raise your prices, as in the case of the furniture retailer, who increased their prices by over 40% to align with the competition’s prices more closely. As a result, they sold more pieces because shoppers now believed that the retailer could deliver the quality they were looking for.

5 Steps to Plan Your Marketing in 2024

3. Strategize

Brew a pot of coffee and invite a few co-workers or friends to a brainstorming session. Solicit their input to answer this question: “How can I break out of my marketing box?” 

Don’t be afraid to try new things. Some new ideas will inevitably fail. Are you okay with that? When your ideas succeed, you will likely be rewarded beyond the cost of the failures. Here are a few ideas to explore.

Tap into product-distribution channels 

If you are a manufacturer or distributor, do you have untapped product-distribution channels? If you operate strictly in wholesale to retail stores, consider using distributors with a broader reach. Maybe you should add your own retail channel. Take Apple, for example. You can purchase an iPhone not only through Best Buy and the Verizon store but also on Apple’s own website. 

If you channel your product solely through brick-and-mortar dealers, could you begin selling through one or two online dealers?

Add gateways

Similarly (and this applies to all businesses), could you add more gateways (ways in which your company solicits and receives orders)? Gateways include storefront sales locations, lead-generating or e-commerce websites, industry trade shows, telephone orders, mail-order operations — really any method by which a customer can order from your business.

Fine-tune your sales funnel 

Thirdly, consider your sales funnel. Can you improve or add to your lead-generation tools by creating better-designed brochures and ads, finding new advertising venues, or producing more creative writing, photography, or videography? In addition, if you are a wholesaler, you should provide tools to your retailers. Guess who you are helping if you help them sell your product!

But what good are leads if they do not turn into purchases? Do you have systems in place to follow up, answer questions, build trust in your company, and close the deals? Often, simple changes in your conversion process can revolutionize the efficiency of your advertising. Several years ago, we had that experience on a client’s website. Improving the user experience on the website roughly tripled the leads generated by the site, cutting advertising costs from over $100 per lead to less than $30. As you can imagine, multiplying the sales by three will make a big difference to their bottom line!

Company branding plays an overarching role in both the sales and the conversion processes. As potential customers begin to recognize your company brand, they will be more likely to trust you to meet their needs in the future.

4. Plan

Now that you have a list of ideas, it is time to put your plans on paper. Start by setting your marketing budget. Segment your budget between branding, marketing to new customers, and marketing to existing customers. Segmenting your budget will ensure you remember to market to your existing customers; they are the low-hanging fruit.

Also, plan a calendar with deadlines for beginning and completing each phase of the marketing effort. Think through the chain reactions. If you are planning for a show in April, you may need a show booth designed and created, for which you will need banners and catalogs, for which you will need pictures. And since the show will be in the spring, and you want to avoid using drab winter scenes for your outdoor products, you may need to have those pictures taken the summer before your show. Scheduling these things on your calendar can save you a lot of stress—and some money.

While planning what to do, also plan who will do it. Whether internal employees can execute your plan, or whether you are hiring outside professionals, schedule the work with them so that they can plan ahead.

5. Execute

Now that you have a plan, work your plan!

Set regular reminders throughout the year to review progress on the plan. What is working? What isn’t? Be flexible. Adjust your plan when you have a good reason to do so. Otherwise, stay your course the whole way through the last day of 2024!

How Intentional Planning Can Revitalize Your Marketing

A Buckeye Metals Sales Case Study

Jay Miller leads a thriving 5-star metal manufacturing company called Buckeye Metals. Like many businessmen, he knew his company’s marketing was suffering. 

Buckeye struggled to juggle the different marketing companies they were working with. One company worked on Google Analytics, another worked on the website interface and design, and another created billboards. “Our marketing felt scattered, and it was hard to track where all our marketing dollars were going,” Jay said. 

Buckeye Metals began the journey with Rosewood in 2021. Luke, Rosewood’s Marketing Coach, and Marvin, a Rosewood Marketing Guide™, led Jay through a four-session marketing strategy consultation. From this consultation, they gained a foundation on which to build an effective marketing plan for the year. Jay received a report that explored the following areas: 

  • Buckeye’s top 3 marketing challenges
  • Their target market
  • Their unique selling proposition (USP)
  • Three key marketing message points
  • A marketing budget for the next 12 months
  • A prioritized list of initiatives that would address Buckeye’s marketing challenges

“Rosewood asked a lot of really good questions that helped pull out who we are and where we want to go,” says Jay gratefully. “It was a lot bigger than marketing. It’s been really good from a business perspective and has helped us make other business decisions.”

“Bringing all our marketing efforts under one roof has been huge. There has been much less frustration,” says Jay. Instead of everything feeling scattered and hard to track, Jay feels the momentum. He says, “The budget is crystal clear, and the communication back and forth is great. Somebody always seems to follow up to keep specific projects moving. And the clarity of the budget shows us exactly where our dollars are going.” 

Today is the best time to start planning your marketing for 2024. Evaluate, update, strategize, plan, and then execute for marketing success.

About the Author: Lyndon Martin is Rosewood’s Messaging Director. He collaborated with the Messaging Team and the Sales Team to create this article. Contact Lyndon and the Rosewood team at lyndonmartin@rosewood.us.com