12 top tips for a successful new year.

’Tis the season of planning and refining your 2016 marketing strategy. It’s also the season of giving not receiving, so we thought we’d compile a list of top tips to give you businesses small to large an easier life, help drive sales and make 2016 a more profitable year – and we’re sure you’ll raise a glass to that!

The list comprises a mix of things clients often ask about, and common mistakes or opportunities we notice even some big established brands making. Some of these tips are just about getting the basics right; and some you can either action, or commit to achieving right away. All are designed to improve the return on your marketing investments in 2016.

1. Give your agency a budget. It’s the only way to ensure you get the optimum return on your marketing investment. If you don’t there’s a good chance you’ll receive a great proposal for a fantastic solution…that’s way out of your price range. A budget will also help you monitor investment and success and avoid over-spending. WDA can give you some basic strategies and formulas to help you set yours if you’d find that helpful.

2. Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. Take the time to stop and understand what your customers’ really think of you and your product or service – and market accordingly. Understand why customers really choose you – or not. Don’t assume you know and don’t be afraid to ask!

3. Find out what your competition are doing. What are they saying, how are they communicating and how do people who buy your products or service perceive them?

4. Plan out a promotional calendar – in advance. Make sure that most of your marketing activities in 2016 are planned and proactive, not disorganised and reactive.

5. Don’t focus on media alone. ‘Inbound marketing’ or ‘social media’ are not magic bullets, they are simply customer touch points. Far more potent is your message and how desired and differentiated your brand and communications are within your marketplace.

6. Build your Brand. Ensure all your communications are built around the one thing you can truly own – your brand. Stop trying to compete on features (or worse price) as these are things your competition can draw comparison against, and ultimately copy or beat. 

7. Test different approaches. Einstein is widely credited with saying that “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results”  Henry Ford had a kinder way of saying a similar thing: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Try new things in 2016. Then refine and do more of what works; and dump what doesn’t.

8. Be consistent, great brand and marketing only works when the message is repeated, building familiarity, trust and understanding. Ensuring all your communications sit on a clearly defined brand platform will also make your life easier as you won’t be reinventing the wheel with each campaign.

9. Become a voice for your industry. Write a regular blog, and offer content, articles and comments to online journals and news sites. Here’s an example: Why effective branding drives sales 

10. Tell your story.  People like stories and share those they love. They DON’T like or share facts. Think stories are too fluffy? Consider that 75% of buying decisions are based on emotion…

11. Call in the experts. If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur. WDA see some businesses trying to do everything in-house (even we can’t!). Remember, any ‘perceived’ cost savings can be wiped out manyfold by the damage done to your brand. Know the limitations of your internal resources and employ specialist help where necessary.

12. Think Marmite – You can’t please all of the people all of the time, so stand out by standing for something – Don’t be afraid to alienate some people, those that love you will love you even more for it. When the World ZIGS, ZAG!

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