By Catherine Priestman, CEO, CP Business Solutions

Technically, we are almost 2 months into the new year – but didn’t January feel like a blur? I can’t believe it’s almost March!

Thanks to Omicron, the first month of 2022 brought a lot of challenges for businesses that were probably not in your original plans and if you live in Ottawa… there are additional business challenges that rolled into town.

No matter what your business situation, having a solid plan can make you feel better and help you perform. Here are some creative suggestions to help you get you on track, focus your efforts, and set marketing goals for 2022 that work for you and your business.

Step 1: Start by looking at your current business/marketing situation

Consider the following questions: What are you doing now? What’s been working well for you and what hasn’t? Who’s responding to your marketing now? Are they your ideal audience?

Now think about all the changes that have happened in the past year. It’s probably going to be a lot to take in, but it’s important to consider in your marketing.

Some additional questions to consider:

  • Are there new marketing channels that have come to fruition this past year that could be valuable for your business? Maybe it’s TikTok or Instagram Reels, or live streaming, or even (re)visiting other types of media you haven’t been so focused on like building email lists, Facebook groups or even direct mail. You don’t need to be on every channel, but think about which channel(s) your ideal audience are getting their information from.  
  • Is there a new audience you can attract for your business that you hadn’t considered before? Perhaps the shift in people continuing to work from home has created new challenges for people that your business can solve!
  • Were there any adjustments that you made this year that performed better than expected or didn’t quite pan out to what you had hoped? Maybe you tried adding new products/services that were more popular than expected or on the flip side aren’t sustainable for you. Consider your wins and challenges. 
  • Are there new opportunities like partnerships, new product/service needs, changing demographics, etc. that have emerged over this past year that you’d like to spend more time looking into?

As you consider these questions, make sure to write them down. Don’t just leave them swimming in your head. You can choose paper and pen, fun coloured markers, a whiteboard or type it out, whatever makes sense for you!

This will help you in the next steps as you continue to work on your marketing goals for 2022.

Step 2: Conduct a Creative Brain Dump!

Think about the things you want to try in 2022. Are there any new products or services you would like to introduce? Would you like to reach a new target audience by switching up your messaging or trying a new marketing channel? Have you always wanted to rent one of those air-filled, super-tall, wavy guys who dance in the wind on street corners?

As you consider these things, write down your ideas. Write about what you want to try – dream and dump out everything in your brain. You may be tempted to consider implementation, feasibility, target markets, impact and budget… it’s ok but your ideas don’t need to be refined at this stage. Just document your ideas. Add as many outlandish details as you like and resist the urge to erase or delete anything as you go. This step is all about creativity so don’t hold back.

Step 3: Organize your marketing ideas

Once you’ve got a plethora of creative ideas in front of you, start to refine your ideas – but don’t delete anything from your previous step, start on a fresh new page. Review your ideas from the previous steps and think about which of these align with where you are now and the challenges, you’re facing from step 1. Start to group ideas together. It can be helpful to think of these ideas as “buckets”.

Some ideas for how to group your marketing priorities can include by time of year, marketing channel, campaigns around specific product service types/specific audiences, budget, or anything else that makes sense for your business. Always keep your target market and your desired outcomes in mind.

Step 4: Connect the dots – plan your execution

It’s in this stage that things will start to come together into a more structured plan. Think about how ideas from different buckets can be connected to help reach your marketing goals. For example, if you’re considering reaching a new audience you may want to connect that with your partnership building goals or your goals with experimenting with a new marketing channel.

At this stage you want to think about execution – how you can pull off these ideas and work toward your goals. For example, if you want to reach a new audience, perhaps partner with someone who already has reach in that market… cross-promotion can be effective, fun and affordable. All those extra outlandish details from Step 2 that we told you not to get rid of will come in handy here to help you fill in the blanks when it comes to your “how”.

Step 5: Accountability – assign responsibilities, resources and define timelines for your 2022 marketing goals

Start with a rough timeline of when you want to achieve your goal. Think about the steps involved in your execution phase and how long each will take. Can some things be done simultaneously or do certain pieces need to be finished before others? Work backwards to create a reasonable timeline. You can do this on paper, a screen or even map it out on a big wall with string. Make it interesting so you keep focused.

As you work through your execution plan, it’s also important to think about who is involved in your plan. Are there certain responsibilities you will delegate? If you can’t do it alone within your own team, consider if there are other people you can hire to help you get there. Are there consultants you’d like to work with? Are there any people who need to be looped in early on so your projects can stay on track?

Once you’ve got this figured out, assign dates and timelines to your projects to help you stay on track and reach your 2022 marketing goals. Congratulations, you’ve created a slightly unconventional marketing plan that you can relate to and that actually reflects your goals and desires. Although large heavily documented and statistically robust plans have a place in some businesses, they are not always necessary… you want a plan that speaks to you and is created with your specific business in mind.

If you need support coming up with creative marketing ideas that drive real results – get in touch! We offer creative planning sessions to get those ideas flowing and we develop simple, effective, strategic marketing plans that can help you reach your marketing goals.

Originally published on the CP Business Solutions website.