As companies begin implementing their marketing plans for 2017, it is important to start with a deep understanding of the marketplace you serve and the position, brand and corporate distinction you have in your industry. To develop the knowledge and understanding that leads to the awareness of meaningful business opportunities, invite all stakeholders to answer these seven questions.
1. How has the marketplace we serve changed in the last 12 months? What are the implications for the future?
As they say, the only thing constant is change. To stay ahead, it is important to establish and maintain a deep insight on our marketplace. In addition, by identifying and evaluating trends, we can create a view of the future that can impact our short- and long-range business performance.
2. What are the greatest challenges our customers and prospects face as they grow their businesses?
The concerns of our customers give us insight on how best to reach and help them. By doing some research, you can learn a lot about your audience’s needs. Start by asking your sales team what they are hearing from customers and prospects. What keeps them up at night? What would make their lives easier? By zeroing in on their pain points, you can tailor your messaging to suit your audience’s unique needs.
3. What positive feedback or meaningful difference did we make with/for our customers in 2016? How can we use that information to our advantage in 2017?
Customer success stories are more than bragging rights for any business. A well-crafted case study can open doors and close sales. Additionally, they provide valuable insight into how your customers are using and finding success with your products and services. What unique uses have they found? What savings have they experience? How much revenue have they generated? Customer case studies can enhance your sales and marketing efforts, but they are also essential to evaluating the current and future offerings of your organization.
4. How can we enhance our customers’ experience in the delivery and use of our products/services?
A positive customer experience is essential to creating and maintaining customer satisfaction, loyalty and advocacy. In fact, 86% of customers are willing to pay more for a product or service to ensure a superior customer experience. Therefore, in today’s competitive marketplace, companies need to understand and invest in the customer experience.
5. What do we need to do more of and less of in 2017?
Take a hard look at what worked well last year and what didn’t. In addition to looking at typical metrics such as ROI, overall revenue and numbers new clients, consider other areas. These may include professional partnerships, returning customers, referrals and brand awareness.
6. How are we going to measure sales and marketing success?
Metrics give us the insight into how our efforts are performing. They also give credibility within the company to demonstrate that marketing is a powerful and valuable investment. In addition to measuring basics such as website traffic and social media shares, take a look at sales conversion rates, sales cycle length and cost of acquiring new customers. The simpler the metric, the clearer the impact.
7. What opportunities are there to enhance our current product/service offerings or add new ones?
Take a look at your competition. What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly? Not only will you be able to determine what makes your products and services unique, you can identify areas where you might be able to capture market share.
Unlock Business Opportunities
If you haven’t asked these questions as part of your planning process for 2017, we encourage you to regroup. The answers to these questions can unlock business opportunities that represent a goldmine of new and substantial initiatives to drive your marketing success.