Is there a more fitting time for a new start than the beginning of the year? After a refreshing break over the festive season, our energy lifts and clarity of mind kicks in to gear. It’s a great time to evaluate the effectiveness of our marketing plans. So often we get caught up in doing things the same way. No surprises there – we’re all time poor and often internal pressure dictates how the business operates. But by doing things the same way, we lose sight of whether our time and money are actually making a difference. So now is the time.

We urge you to reflect and review your plans to ensure your brand is set up for marketing success in 2016. Confused about where to start? Right here, with these top 5 tips:

1) Focus on your customer

Remember the customer? That individual at the end of the transaction who goes home with your product? These people should always be top of mind. So bring the customer back and put them in the spotlight. What messages are you sending? What does each and every brand interaction look like from your customer’s perspective? Map out the consumer journey and all the touch points and think about what experiences are being offered. This is where opportunities to develop content will be identified and, therefore, ways to improve the customer experience. A recent Tech Research Asia report  made the point that if we think about the customer journey with our brand as a road trip, we talk a lot about the roads (the digital infrastructure) and maybe the vehicles (the devices and apps or websites) but “not enough about the destination, or what users do on the journey or once they get there.” Yes, there’s still a long way to go before the roads and services are up to scratch on the digital landscape and these are very important. However, emphasising the destination and activities will surely help to drive inspiration, loyalty and higher customer satisfaction. The brands that are making traction with consumers are those that are thinking about the customer journey and using digital assets as part of an omni-channel environment. Domino’s is a great example with its Tweet for Pizza campaign that creates a smooth interaction for the customer, rather than a series of micro events.

2) Audit your owned media assets

News flash: owned media assets, such as your website, enewsletter and other communications, are areas in which you control the user experience. It’s so important to get these right. Especially given it’s often reasonably low maintenance to do so. So many brands launch a website, then set and forget. Content is not uploaded frequently, analytics are not reviewed and investments are not made to keep up with technological changes. And yet, the Tech Research Australia report found that “Australian consumers are twice as likely to use a website than any other channels to interact”. But many organisations are still lagging behind in their use of channels that should now be mainstream in the marketing mix – online chat is not well utilised, and a large number of sites are yet to tackle mobile viewing. This functionality is often expected by consumers and plays a vital role in the purchasing funnel. Forrester reports some 74% of business buyers are conducting more than half of their research online before making an offline purchase and that research begins with a simple Google search. Pay attention to organic traffic so you don’t miss out on valuable visitors. Spend the time to audit your website, look at how you can improve the customer experience by publishing meaningful content, or reviewing how your company appears in Google search results. Establishing an effective email strategy will pay dividends, ultimately driving consumers back to your website by teasing them with valuable content in emails.

Mastermind can perform an effective digital and social media audit for your brand. We take a look at all activity and provide a list of quick wins. We also offer a monthly email program, in which we professionally design, write and send your brand’s monthly emails. Get in touch with us if you’re interested, 02 9560 7406.

3) Think about your content and campaigns

Is it time to plan that Easter Offer again? The same one you’ve churned out for the past five years? It’s no surprise we fall into the habit of carrying out the same old campaigns and publishing the same old content. If it ain’t broke, right? Wrong. At the very least, it’s worth assessing whether these activities are effective in the current market, because market landscapes change constantly. So if you were your audience, would you be engaged with your communications? Or do the messages reek of sheer self-promotion? Be honest. The key to keep content and offers compelling and drive customers back to your website is variety. Mix it up. And never underestimate the value of good copywriting and video production – it can be far more cost effective than you expect, bringing positive long-term impacts to your brand. Similarly, ensuring you have a regular series of campaigns planned throughout the year will bring in new consumers and retain those precious existing ones. So before you embark on your next marketing activity, question the objectives and consider a more effective way of achieving the goals. How’s your content creation going?

Need help? This service is one of Mastermind’s favourite things. We can plan content, write it and create your communication material, as well as identify the core pillars of your messages to make your storytelling more effective.

4) Plan your marketing activities and content

Benjamin Franklin once said, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” Marketing managers are often so involved in the day-to-day pressures they don’t make time to step back and plan. But here are the positives of simply putting your plans into a calendar format:

  • Create activity visibility across the whole organisation
  • Ensure content is regular, consistent and on brand
  • Develop all communication material in advance
  • Budget spend is more effective
  • Important dates are captured
  • Gaps in the plan become transparent and action is taken to fill the holes

Remember, the further ahead you plan your digital content, the better placed you are to produce a consistent flow of content that builds your brand’s perceived expertise. It could be as simple as having an email marketing schedule with dates and content locked in, or creating a social media plan to schedule content in advance. Either way, it’s worth the upfront investment of your time.

5) Invest in something new

No matter which definition you value, it’s clear that successful marketing boils down to one factor – focus on the customer at all times. As the world of marketing continues to evolve with new technology, it’s vital to adapt and try out these cool new ways to reach consumers. Make 2016 the year you put aside budget (even if it’s a small amount) to try something new. Over time, as successes and failures pave the way, you might find a greater proportion of your budget is shifted into these initiatives. It could be testing out Facebook advertising, considering untested partnerships or trying an innovative approach to customer acquisition. Then put measurables in place so you can monitor and optimise accordingly. The default outcome of constant innovation is that the customer remains at the heart of your planning and that customer-centric products and services are born from your efforts. It’s a win-win strategy!