4 Simple Steps to Writing a Business and Marketing Plan for 2017

It's that time of year again. Most businesses have spent Q4 analyzing performance for 2016, and doing everything possible to boost their numbers to finish the year strong. Businesses are also busy with calculating budgets for next year and brainstorming and fine tuning their strategies for a bigger and better 2017.

December is a busy month, full of tying up loose ends before the end of the year, making holiday plans, shopping and traveling. December is also "Write a Business Plan" month. In fact, one area of your business plan that shouldn't get left behind for 2017 is content marketing...

But before you stress even more thinking, "there's NO WAY I have time to write a business plan this month...", don't sweat. We are going to give you some tips that can help writing a business plan a little easier.

Step 1: Assess Your Market. The first step to writing a business and a content marketing plan for 2017 is to assess your market and ask yourself and your team some important questions:

  • Who are you targeting? Draft or paint a detailed picture of your ideal buyer persona or client.
  • What are the trends in your market? Are they changing or are expected to change for 2017?
  • Are there any new market opportunities for 2017?

Step 2: It's Time for a Content Refresh. If you've had a website up and running for about as long as you have been in business - whether that has been for 6 months or 6 years - it might be time to refresh your content, especially since you have clearly defined who your target audience is as well as your ideal buyer.

You may need to refresh or re-work your content accordingly in order to appeal to your audience and get them to buy.

Step 3: A Content Marketing Plan Designed to WIN. Remember, a content marketing plan doesn't mean you or your team have to sit for hours and hours every week writing out every social media post, blog or promotion; there are tools and resources that can help you do that.

Additionally, your business doesn't have to be on EVERY social media site there is - after all, who has time??? For example, if you are B2B business, and you offer a service or solutions to a client base, then Instagram or Pinterest probably aren't your best options in terms of engaging with your audience. Because these two types of social media sites are very image-heavy, it might be difficult to maintain an effective presence. I'm not saying it can't be done, but there may be other social media options that are a better fit for your business.

On the other hand, if you are a cake decorator, florist, or an architect, then you could easily establish a presence on Pinterest or Instagram because you will be able to take and post pictures of your work, which most consumers love.

The point here is that you need to find out where your audience hangs out, and then make sure that medium finds its way into your content marketing plan.

And, if your B2B business offers a service and you have successfully maintained a solid Pinterest or Instagram presence, then feel free to share your comments below. We'd love to hear more about it.

Step 4: Budgeting. Every business' favorite topic, right? Most businesses claim they don't know how to budget for content marketing, or they don't have a content marketing budget at all.

In fact, according to a report released by the Content Marketing Institute earlier this fall, 29 percent of business' marketing budgets include content marketing, which is a pretty small number considering how many businesses there are...

Additionally, only approximately 30 percent of businesses have a content marketing strategy at all, leaving many businesses left behind. And without a business plan, they are doomed to fail...

Stop Making Excuses - It's Time for a Change

I'm going to tell you a quick story about my own business. During the earlier years of my business, I was a true solo-preneur. I did everything from making sales calls to writing my clients' content to managing my books. Of course I was happy doing it all, but I never had time to beef up my own website, write on my own blog, or establish my own social media presence.

Although I spend every day preaching to my clients about the importance of content marketing, it was pretty embarrassing to tell them I never had time for my own content marketing. It was the truth. I spent so much of my time working on my clients' projects that I never had time for my own. Deep down inside, I knew that had to change...

This year I spent a LOT of time putting together my own content marketing strategy. I set up a content marketing calendar, I used a marketing automation tool to help me manage my social media posts and blog posts, and I set aside time every month to plan my content for each month, and review my website performance to see what's working and what's not.

Let me tell you, this was one of the best decisions I ever made for my business. During the middle of November 2016, I received my first two website conversions in one week, website traffic increased by 400%, and social media engagement levels (on Twitter and LinkedIn specifically), were the top two social media channels powering leads and traffic to my website.

I know, I know... two conversions in one week. Big deal, right? Well, a year ago my website was barely visible, and only saw about 2 visitors per month - and I'm willing to bet those two were my best friend and my boyfriend. The point is, after 6 months of hard work and planning, it was starting to pay off - and quite literally.

All in all, it's time to stop making excuses for not having a content marketing plan. Even if you are still worried about your content marketing budget, remember that content marketing can be pretty flexible, and it can be integrated into your other marketing efforts. It will just help your business' marketing make more of an impact.

Follow the steps outlined above to get you started on the right foot and to get you thinking about content marketing for your business, and we guarantee the rest will get easier.

Does Your Business REALLY Need a Business and Marketing Plan?

If you've been reading this blog, then hopefully you've got some ideas bouncing around in your head about how you can shape up your marketing for 2017. But let's go back to your business plan for a second - is it really that important? Is it necessary? I supposed it's not that necessary, unless you are okay with your business failing. Most startup businesses fail within the first 5 years, and many of them do not have a business plan. Having a business plan can provide numerous benefits, including:

  • Mapping out your business' mission, value proposition, goals and objectives
  • Serve as a guide for your team and business to follow
  • Serve as a resource to provide investors, potential partners or other stakeholders
  • Defining target audience, buyer persona, and ideal client
  • Building and developing strategies to meet goals
  • Establishing timelines and key milestones to meet goals
  • Setting up, tracking, and monitoring budgets

Maximize Your Opportunities in 2017

If you want to maximize your opportunities in 2017, then be sure to go into the new year with a plan for how to market your business more effectively. You can use a blend of digital and non-digital channels, as long as you are using the appropriate channels that appeal to your target audience and buyer. Remember, content is still king...

So when you are putting together your marketing plan for 2017, be sure to include content marketing in your strategy, and integrate everything into a business plan.

If you need help with establishing a content marketing strategy or if you are looking for a reputable, experienced, and high quality content writer, then be sure to give J. H. Language Solutions a call at 508-326-8043. We want to hear about your plans and goals for 2017, so give us a call for FREE today.

Now that was easy.

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