5 Sure Ways To Kick Off Your 2012 Marketing

#1 Do a 360-degree Marketing Audit

One of my favorite things to do once or twice a year (typically at the beginning and end of the year) is what I call a 360-degree Marketing Audit ™. This is very similar to the process of doing a 360-degree human resource review. The objective is to have multiple eyes and sets of feedback on your marketing efforts.

Have management provide their thoughts, other employees, vendors, clients and even random people who would like to earn a few extra dollars by taking a survey.

You're aiming to get feedback on your web site, your marketing messages, your social media efforts, your brand and beyond. It's great to see some good feedback like " the web site rocks" but to remove any bias you need multiple sets of feedback, hence the term 360 degrees. At the end of the process you should be armed with a stack of papers and various types of feedback. Celebrate your wins, and keep doing more of the good stuff, while at the same time formulating your action plan for the year to correct the marketing areas that need some work.

#2 Prepare a 12-month marketing calendar.

I love looking at 25+ page marketing plans and condensing them down to one page. Long fancy marketing plans are not needed, and they are rarely ever followed or implemented. Grab a sheet of paper and list out the following:

Month: List of each month of the year
Message: What do you want to come across in your marketing for the month?
Media: What tactics will you deploy? It's recommended to be using 30-50 at any given time
Money: How much will you invest in marketing that month? The average business owner spends less than 6% of their forcasted gross sales. Do you want to be average?
Grade: After the month is over give yourself an A, B, C, D or F based on the results of the month
Notes: Add some information on how the month went

The objective is to come up with a calendar that rocks your competition and takes your profits soaring. After 2-3 years of grading your efforts and making adjustments, your calendar will be rock solid.

#3 Get cranking on mobile

In my book, Marketing In the Moment: The Practical Guide to Using Web 3.0 Marketing To Reach Your Customers First, I talk about how mobile is the hottest trend out there. I mention my book not to be self-serving, but rather to say it was written in 2009/2010 and I've been talking about mobile since 2007. If I was saying mobile was hot then, obviously it's even hotter now. In many countries there are more mobile phones than people; does that tell you something? Start capturing mobile numbers on your web site, in your marketing efforts and in your retail stores. Once you have them, harness them, and don't abuse them. Send stuff only of extreme value to your audience: discounts, coupons or insightful thoughts. Don't treat mobile like email. Mobile needs to be much more personalized and thought out before hitting the send key.

The other side of mobile is to make certain that your website looks good across all mobile devices. Many websites are beautiful, but when someone brings them up on an iPhone, for example, the site looks horrendous. Make the corrections as you can't afford to lose potential customers due to a poor website.

#4 Content, Content, Content.

For the past five years I sent out a yearly email to all of our clients. In this email I talk about what I saw during the course of the year and what I see coming for the upcoming year. When I've looked back at all of the past "years in review" there is one trend that has not changed: content. Google still loves and always will love unique/original content. There have been many updates to the Google search algorithm, but the one thing that still holds true is they rank sites that have lots of unique content with lots of inbound links. Create some good content and get it out there. My favorite method is to start with video and go from there. If you create a few short videos each month you can get the content transcribed and used as blog posts, articles or even content for your social media efforts.

#5 Execute.

In any type of uncertain economy business owners do one of a few things: they scale back and try to save money, they freeze as their businesses become paralyzed, or they hit the gas pedal. Now is the best time to be scaling your marketing up. While many of your competitors are still frozen or worried, you can start grabbing more and more market share and they won't even know what him 'em.

I do need to issue a word of caution: Many entrepreneurs (including myself) suffer from the "shiny thing" syndrome. We never want to stay the course and are always looking at the next latest and greatest things. While it's great to stay ahead of the curve, often this comes at the price of putting other things on hold. Plan your 12 month calendar and execute it to the letter. The number one mistake in marketing is premature abandonment. You try something for a month, don't see instant results and you move on.

Stay the course and execute your marketing strategies. I still believe to this day the quote by Peter Drucker: "Marketing and Innovation are the only two functions of business." When your marketing is solid, all else falls into place.