What I love about the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas is that everyone is 'on.'  There is a three week rush to close out 2015 and set plans in place for 2016.  While we may be busy with holiday shopping and parties, we have our running shoes on and are looking to end one year and start the next on a positive note.

If you are like me, you are planning for next year.  Budgets are being set and strategies are being developed. As you develop your marketing strategy...yes you need one...here are some things to consider.
What To Include in Your 2016 Marketing Plan

Brand Review

The beginning of each year, you should review your messaging and branding.  This doesn't mean that you should be a chameleon and always be changing.  However, you need to ensure that your message still resonates.  Markets change, preferences change and how people consume information is changing.  Sometimes the smallest tweaks can make a difference between your audience resonating with your brand and you being overlooked.

Social Media

It goes without saying that you need to have social media as part of your marketing strategy, but just having a 'presence' on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn is not enough.  What is most important is utilizing each of those channels to build a large and loyal audience, as well ascreating brand and personal recognition. Social media is not just a numbers game; it is dedicating your time to an audience and establishing a rapport throughongoing and consistent messaging. It is about building engaging content through transmedia platforms.

Once you have developed a clear and concise message, the sky is the limit; your Tweets are shared and favorited; your LinkedIn posts drive you to become an influencer, while Facebook and Instagram drive business in a way you never thought imaginable. So go beyond just having an account and develop a real social media strategy that drives results.

Marketing Automation Technology

Marketing Automation is software that helps you create, measure and automate very engaging marketing campaigns… across email platforms, social media and your website. The benefit of the technology is that it delivers personalized and specific campaigns that are actually relevant to customers across all your marketing channels. In reality it is a tool that can put you way ahead of your competition and is the future of reaching retail customers online. Technology can be the most powerful tool in Marketing, provided that you understand it and use it effectively.

Mobile Friendly Website Refresh

Many B2B companies believe that the investment in a good mobile-friendly website is only necessary for B2C companies.  I often hear," I'm not Amazon and I'm not selling anything online." Even if your customers do not purchase your products or services directly from your website, you are still selling online.

Today, most purchases are made with some research being done online.  Since we all walk around with smart phones, research is often completed from a mobile device.  Your online presence is a reflection of your business.  Don't let your online impression  be a tired and dated one, or worse not viewable through phones and tablets.

SEO -  Search Engine Optimization

Are you tired yet of being contacted by companies offering to help you with SEO?  Me too, and this is what I do! It is important to be able to be found on the internet.  Not everyone is going to type in your exact information into Google.  If you cannot be found organically, you are missing out on business. However, you need to enlist a reputable SEO firm.  Don't just go with the cheapest firm or one that makes claims that are too good to be true

Content Development

One of the most effective new marketing approaches out there is content marketing. According to the Content Marketing Institute, over 85 percent of brands use it, but less than half believe they're good at it. So what exactly is it and why is it so important?

Content is basically the sharing of information that is helpful to your audience.  For example my target market is business owners of small to mid-sized firms.  I try to share blogs, tweets, stories and information that my audience will find helpful and entertaining.

Content is a great way to connect with your target audience.  Sharing other's information is good, but writing your own content is even better.  If you're not comfortable with writing, you can enlist a writer to help you.  Many of my clients present their content ideas, topics or outlines and my team develops the rest.

As you develop your 2016 Marketing Strategy review the resources you have to implement the strategy.  Ensure you have the right resources in place, because marketing is the driving force of sales and can make the difference between an OK year and a great one.
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