The new year is all about thinking afresh, new starts and resolutions, and your marketing is of course no exception. Creating a marketing plan in professional services is always challenging – prospective clients are expecting more for less, and competition has never been so great. So, I thought I’d share a few thoughts on the right questions to ask yourself as you build out your 2020 strategy, as well as looking at how you can optimise your strategy to drive real business value.
How did we do in 2019?
A situational analysis is the starting point for any marketing plan, and the year-end presents the ideal moment to run this diagnostic to determine a healthcheck of your firm. The most common approach is the SWOT tool, which determines your business’s strengths and weaknesses and any opportunities and threats. You can start this process with some simple bullet points – capture the key factors in each of the four areas. This will be a crucial tool when building your 2020 strategy, and will help you in developing and confirming your goals throughout the year.
How did our competitors do in 2019?
When was the last time you ran a proper review of your competitors? Perhaps new competitors have entered the market this year, or established competitors are performing very well. This is all vital information that will inform your 2019 review and your 2020 plans. Start by identifying your top five rival firms. You probably already know who most of them are, if in the unlikely event you don’t, then google is your best friend here, as always. Assemble your list of firms and analyse their content and activities. Once you know what type of activities they are doing you’ll have a better perspective on where you need to allocate more effort and resources.
What shall we do in 2020?
Your marketing plan must also include the activities you are going to do to deliver your goals. Have you met with your business leaders? Have you met with your sales teams and/or consultants? Are you all aligned? It’s a good idea to undertake a fresh persona exercise every year to structure your marketing efforts. When mapping out your 2020 plans look at your best performing content and activities from this year and build more ideas from there. Have you spoken to a sample of your clients? Are you comfortable with what’s keeping them up at night? Are you abreast of industry trends?
What makes us stand out from the crowd?
The fastest growing firms tend to specialise in a carefully targeted niche, so spending time working this into your strategy can prove to be hugely profitable. Identify what gives you an advantage over your competitors and build it into your 2020 plans.
Is the whole team on board?
Buy-in from the whole team is crucial for your new strategy to really work. The best way to achieve this is to involve colleagues in your planning, bringing them in to go over relative metrics, ensuring they complement their departments (and your firm’s) goals.
How are we delivering the plan?
There’s no point doing the work if it won’t get implemented, so build a calendar of activities to identify when the work is happening, and who is delivering it. This adds accountability and ensures the plan can be monitored as you go, and at the end of the year when you’re planning your 2021 strategy.
How will we measure success or failure?
Build a measurement process into your marketing plan. Consider what metrics you need to measure to monitor effectiveness so you can compare your results to the goals you’ve set out. Do you have access to the robust reporting technology? This will ensure you are eliminating ineffective strategies. Don’t wait until the year-end to run your evaluation; monitoring as you go will save you time and money down the line.
Are we being flexible?
Your marketing plan is crucial, but so is flexibility. We can only ever predict so much and if things change your plan will need to as well. Make sure you are allowing things to shift throughout the year if they need to – responsive, agile firms that can respond to changes in the market will be always one step ahead of their competitors.
We hope these questions help as you finalise your 2020 plans, if you need any support or would just like to pick our brains, just pick up the phone or send us an email.