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Creating your 2014 marketing plan.

Now that retailers are starting their final holiday sales blitzes, you should be thinking about finalizing your 2014 marketing plans. The intent of this 2014 planning exercise is not only to set some goals for what you would like to accomplish and achieve next year, but also document specific marketing activities. As the saying goes, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.”

In Part 1 of this series I discussed how to review and critique your 2013 results, identifying the activities that missed, met and exceeded expectations. Now let’s look for some opportunities to improve, try new things, and dump the failures. The good news is that you probably thought of a number of ideas just by documenting your results. Those tend to be best, especially when they don’t involve paying some vendor more money.

Set some 2014 marketing goals

As you critique your 2013 results, here are few tactical and low-cost ways to improve results in 2014 for specific marketing goals. This is not an exhaustive list, and not all ideas may apply to your practice, but it may help you think about even better goals and tactics for your firm. If you’ve never gone through this exercise before, just setting one marketing goal is a great achievement.

I want to reach a broader audience. Sign up for Google+ Local, Yahoo! Local, and other (free) local listing services. Add every client and prospective client to your email newsletter list. Have lunch with one potential referral source each week. Submit an article to a local newspaper, or an idea to a local morning talk show.

I want to attract more interest in my firm / visitors to my website. Start a blog (great search engine optimization tactic), using those articles for an email newsletter. Send updates through your LinkedIn network, and have your associates and staff do the same. Ask clients to post Google reviews, which increase your online exposure. Offer a free educational seminar, webinar, or white paper.

I want to get more of those visitors to contact my firm. Write your website (and other collateral) to educate, not define or advertise. Highlight your true differentiators. Offer quick tips, tools and success stories. Add chat functionality. Drop the keyword lists and other antiquated search engine tricks that confuse readers.

I want more of those contacts to result in consultations or initial prospect meetings. Always answer the phone live (during business hours) and get callers to a live attorney so they will stop their search. Respond to email/chat inquiries within 15 minutes. Ask for a meeting rather than a phone call.

I want to turn more prospective clients into clients. Follow-up three times to show that you are thinking about the prospective client during their decision-making process. Send a thank-you note. Quickly respond to assigned action items. Ask for more information to re-engage the prospect. Send an article relevant to the prospect’s business or problem. Hold internal lunch-and-learn meetings to share ideas and success stories.

Improve your marketing results in 2014

Congratulations! You’ve documented 2013 marketing results, identified some specific 2014 marketing enhancements and set some quantifiable goals with specific tactics. You created a solid foundation for managing your 2014 marketing program. Revisit your plan each month in 2014 to see how you’re doing on the tactical execution as well as the results. These are your goals, so feel free to adjust as needed, building on the most successful activities.

If you can’t measure it, don’t do it. SM

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