It’s very tempting to hunt down your 2018 marketing plan, adapt it and implement, right? Your 2018 marketing plan made a difference to the organisation and your customers were satisfied, so why upset the applecart?

Because doing the same thing as the year before is boring and predictable. What real progress would you make by doing the same thing or making slight changes? Not only are you preventing your brand from achieving its maximum potential, but you could also miss out on penetrating an untapped market.

So, what is the next step to identifying what to add to your 2019 marketing plan?

Identify who your customer is by doing research. Ask them what they want, how they would like to receive information from you and what they like and dislike about your brand.

The worst is spending half of your marketing budget on an activity you thought your customer would like, just to find out that they don’t.

Everyone thinks research takes long. Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t. There are very quick and easy ways to gain insights to your customer without spending your entire marketing budget and waiting three months for the research findings to arrive.

Send out surveys via email or social media, create regular focus groups and engage with your customer during your on-the-ground activations.

After analysing the research findings, you might ask yourself the following questions: Do we really need a Twitter account? Are we seeing a return on boosting social media posts?

And should we focus on above-the-line versus below-the-line activities? This will allow you to exclude the clutter and include the activities your customer is telling you they want!

While you implement research, you can’t ignore that the clock is ticking, and you are still sitting with a blank marketing plan. My advice would be to include these three key things in your marketing plan in 2019. They are a win-win, with or without research:

1. On the ground activations

Here are five ways to include on-the-ground activations in your plan:

1. Go back to the basics, but make it big!
2. Plan various activations around hotspots where your current consumer is and identify the areas where you can unlock new consumers.
3. Share product or service information in an interactive and creative way.
4. Don’t expect the consumer to stop and ask questions; give them a reason to stop. Ask yourself: What’s different about your brand and how does it benefit the customer? Now make your customers see that.
5. Keep it simple, yet impactful. Allow them to leave with answers and incentivise them to return to your organisation. 

2. Influencers

Set aside a budget for influencers. Select influencers that are a fit for your brand organisation. Don’t just pay any influencers because they have 100 000 followers. Instead, select the influencers that will become a brand ambassador for your organisation.

Why influencers, you ask? Influencers will unlock a new market for your organisation – their loyal followers will become your loyal followers.

3. Social media

Below are four things to keep in mind when including social media in your 2019 plan:

1. Allow your current and potentially new customers to experience your brand through social media.
2. Ensure your brand executes the true brand personality through images, videos, infographics, posts on social media – be consistent in your messaging.
3. Target your unlocked audience and boost posts to attract them to engage with your brand and potentially convert them to a loyal customer.
4. Social media is a great research tool. Ask your audience what you can do more of – listen, and then do it!

There is so much to include in a marketing plan. We’ve all heard this one before: ‘We need to get onto this new platform because everyone is on it’. If you don’t, then you are deemed irrelevant and old because your competitor is doing it and you’re not.

Don’t be bothered by the noise around you. Don’t let what everyone else is doing dictate what you should and shouldn’t include in your 2019 marketing plan.

Listen to your customer, and give them what they want.

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