Working on next year’s marketing plan and budget is always a fun (by all sarcastic and non-sarcastic uses of the word!) experience. On one hand, it gives you that opportunity to reprioritize, introduce something new, and generally think outside the box about what might be impactful. On the other, it can be complicated given there’s only so much you can accomplish with finite resources and dollars.
Liquid has the opportunity to be part of this process with many of our clients every year. As such, we’ve honed in on the steps to take and questions to answer. So, to help you keep this initiative as energizing and fruitful as it can be, I’ve laid out some considerations to ensure what you submit for 2024 covers all your bases and is aimed at impacting your bottom line.
Gather Data and Insight
Review year-to-date performance
While looking back at last year’s plan may leave you wanting to *copy* *paste* and call it a day, this is the best place to start. Once you’ve re-reviewed what you set out to achieve, pull every bit of data you can on last year’s programs and tactics from marketing channels, your website, your CRM or e-commerce platform, and more.
What worked in 2023? What fell short?
While it’s easier to answer the latter, the former can be both insightful and a challenge to you and your team: What worked well – and how can we capitalize on that? It could be expanding placements or targeting on a digital advertising channel that was your biggest driver of leads in 2023, or considering how to repurpose a video that performed exceptionally well by turning it into a blog post, expanding it into a long-form content piece, and breaking it into a several-week social media series. This isn’t just about starting and stopping certain tactics – there’s iterating, too!
See what’s being predicted for the upcoming year
Next, get out your crystal ball…
Joking! But it is important to do your due diligence here.
One critical place to start is with your sales and product teams. What are they anticipating for the upcoming year? Do they see more competition entering your industry? Customers or clients expecting something more or different from their experience with you? Any new messages being increasingly more important to share?
Beyond that, from a marketing perspective, what are thought leaders saying you can expect for 2024? Are there new platforms worth demoing? Channels you might pilot? Content types to create?
For one, while generative AI is not going to replace your entire marketing team in 2024, it’s also not going anywhere! If you haven’t taken an opportunity to pilot its use for efficiency gains in your marketing, now’s the time plan for this. Some easy points of entry include using generative AI to compile some informal research or to develop an early draft of a new blog post.
Conduct a content review
So many marketing tactics rely heavily on engaging content: long-form whitepapers or guides can serve as great lead capture, regular content additions to your website hugely benefit your SEO performance, video for social media and digital advertising – the list goes on.
One additional review worth doing on an annual basis (ahead of submitting next year’s budget being the perfect time!) is a light content review. This can help you understand what’s still serving you and where there are gaps.
There are certainly more comprehensive and lengthier content audits that can be performed and offer your organization a lot of value. But a good place to start would be to take a look at content created in just the last few years broken down by:
This can help you to better see where gaps might be.
Further, this can be an exercise worth bringing your sales and product teams into. Based on their experience, do they see any gaps in what exists? Are they increasingly getting some of the same questions or concerns that might be worth addressing in a new piece of content? Is there any new data out of those teams that can be packaged up and shared externally? Answers to these questions could point to priorities necessary to budget for in 2024.
Build Your Plan
Nail down your goals and KPIs
This is your expectation setting step. What are you telling your counterparts that you’re setting out to achieve in 2024? And equally important, how will you measure your progress?
When setting smart (and SMART) goals, consider how both baselines and benchmarks come into play:
- Baselines (where you landed previously) ensure your goals aren’t unrealistic for your team and organization
- Benchmarks (where others are landing with similar efforts) offer some motivation to continue to improve what your team and organization are working toward
Neither – or one without the other – can leave you lacking intel as you set your 2024 marketing goals.
Ensure you’ve set the right foundation
Based on what you’re setting out to achieve in 2024, there are some foundations you’ll want to set. There’s infinite value in this, from ensuring you have access to accurate data for decision making to establishing some direction for marketing and creative.
Consider these questions:
- Is your Google Analytics 4 (GA4) setup complete and optimized? Do you have a link tagging or UTM parameter plan to track your digital (and traditional) activity?
- Do you have creative standards set as far as a visual identity and key messages for any campaigns you aim to run next year?
- Do you have an SEO strategy in place to follow? Have you done any recent benchmarking against competitors?
- Do you have a plan that will guide organic social for the year, outlining channels, types of posts, frequency of posts and more? Do you have templates created for graphics or videos to ensure visual consistency and offer some efficiencies for your social manager?
If the answer to any of these questions is “not yet,” consider prioritizing any number of these initiatives in your 2024 plan.
Consider your funnel
In planning programs and tactics for the upcoming year, an important consideration is your funnel: from awareness and consideration, to generating and nurturing leads to sales, to customer retention and loyalty, do your plans cover it all?
This is another one that most easily starts with a gap analysis. As you build your plan, is there “something for everyone?” Often the places where limited attention is paid are:
- At the very top, in generating awareness before you jump to generating all these great leads and sales
- At the very bottom, in challenging yourself to not forget about engaging your current customers and clients
As you also wrap up your content creation plans for 2024, driven largely by your earlier review, this is a great lens to look at content through: Do you currently have content that serves someone along the entire journey? If there’s a gap, what can you create to close it?
Prepare for Execution
Set yourself up in 2023
Because this planning and budgeting process can take several months, it offers some time before year’s end to help set yourself up to achieve everything you’re setting out to in 2024.
One opportunity would be to leverage any remaining 2023 budget to perform reviews or create plans for the upcoming year.
Where this can be of most benefit is if you’d like to tackle any of the above, more foundational projects:
- Perform an audit of the current state of your GA4 or SEO
- Establish graphic or video templates for your social manager to run with
- Create a link tagging plan so that all new 2024 launches, social posts, and more can follow suit
When you return in the new year, you’ll be thanking “past you” for setting yourself up!
Determine if you’ve got the right skillsets and tools
Now that you know the what, when and where, there’s the matter of who and how. Do you have the right skillsets and tools to achieve all that you’re setting out to do in 2024?
When it comes to skillsets, consider opportunities for cross-training or the potential of leveraging a partner like Liquid to fill in any gaps. Especially if you’re going to embark on any new programs or tactics in 2024, a partner can offer some structure and direction, even if it means handing off to your internal team at a later date.
When it comes to tools, don’t underestimate the value that a platform or website might have in getting you access to different types of data, creating efficiencies, and more. The end of the year offers another opportunity to review what’s available, schedule demos, and take advantage of trial periods to set yourself up for a 2024 investment. Also, consider what a partner like Liquid might have access to that could be at your disposal!
The Year Is Yours
While annual planning and budget is a laborious task, this year, make it a labor of love.
If nothing else, I hope this post got you motivated to return to or get started on next year’s plan!
If Liquid can be of any support as you look ahead to 2024, from completing an audit before year’s end to cluing you in on what we expect to see in 2024, get in touch!