12 Most Important Marketing Questions to Ask in December
It’s December. That means it’s time the time to give thanks for our successes of the last year and start thinking about changes we’d like to make in the coming year – both personal and professional.
It’s also time to reflect back on the year that has passed and assess what worked and what didn’t. Financial and business plans are an inevitable part of this process. But don’t forget to review your marketing efforts of the past year and begin planning for next year as well.
As you assess and plan your marketing efforts, below are some questions you might ask yourself to jump start the process:
- Channel Assessment: What marketing channels drove the most business to the firm in 2011? Are you relying too heavily on that channel? If not, should you consider taking steps to expand it further? What marketing channel drove the least business to the firm in 2011? Can that channel be revitalized? Can that channel be eliminated?
- Referral Network: Can you find any new sources of referrals in 2012? What service providers exist in areas that complement your specialty (if any)? Where did you refer business in 2011? Be sure to touch base, even if only to confirm they are still interested in the type of business you’ve referred in the past. The touch point may remind them you were a referral source and prompt them to reciprocate in 2012.
- Print Materials: Are your print materials accurate? If not, revise or eliminate.
- Media Coverage: Are you known to local or national reporters who are looking for experts in your given area? Can you find one or two targeted news providers to establish relationships with?
- Speaking Engagements: How many speaking engagements did you deliver in 2011? Were they effective? Can you ramp that up or down to greater effect?
- Website: Is your website content fresh and relevant? If not, be sure to update and refresh. Assess the number and quality of inbound links back to your firm’s website. What online marketing trends can you exploit to generate links back to your web site? (Inbound links remain a critically important factor in SEO and traffic generation).
- Guest Blogging: How many guest blog posts did you write for online publications in 2011? Were they effective at generating interest in the firm? Did they create inbound links back to your site?
- Online Advertising: What online advertising campaigns did you execute in 2011? Were they effective? Review and tweak accordingly.
- Pay Per Click: Did you do any PPC in 2011? Was it effective? Can you drive your costs lower on a per click basis in 2012? Should you have your PPC program reviewed by an independent third party? Someone who is NOT currently managing your current program?
- Newsletter: Do you have a newsletter that is delivered to your customers? If not, start one immediately. Find a reason to communicate to customers, but ensure you are adding value. A gentle reminder that you helped them in the past is a great potential source of future referrals. I would deliver at least quarterly and preferably monthly for certain practice areas.
- Lead Sharing & Networking Group: Did you participate in a lead sharing group in 2011? Was it effective? If not, how can you energize the group or tweak to make it effective? Are there other groups with better reputations?
- Conference Attendance: Did you enrich your marketing knowledge in 2011? How? What was effective? What wasn’t? Did you listen in on any webinars? Go to any conferences? Review and assess.
An established business with a robust marketing program should be analyzing many (if not all) of these areas. A new business may be looking at only a few.
A sound marketing plan always includes time for review and analysis to determine what is working and what isn’t – what should be increased, decreased, begun or stopped entirely.
Hopefully you have good data and analytics to inform the business on what worked and what didn’t. Be sure to ask good questions and follow your gut. If a part of your analysis sounds too good to be true or doesn’t pass the sniff test, double check your numbers.
What were your most effective marketing channels this past year? What worked for you? What didn’t?