Time to plan for 2013

Unbelievably, we're hurtling at break-neck speed towards the end of another year.

And while some people are scratching their heads and half-heartedly writing the Christmas to-do list while wondering whether or not it's too early to break out the mince pies, savvy business owners are starting to plan their marketing activity for 2013. While it can be tempting to leave planning for next year until the Christmas break - or, worse, leave it until 2013 - now is really the time to start to commit to some business building actions for the new year. To make the process just a little bit easier, here are my top 5 tips for planning your new year marketing strategy. So put the kettle on, grab a couple of biscuits (or a mince pie, if you really can't resist), and get planning...

1) Review your year

How was 2012 for you? Jot down your key marketing activities and review them one by one. Perhaps you joined a new networking group, commissioned a new brochure or carried out an advertising campaign. What was the yield, or return, of each of these? Is there something you need to change or tweak for next year?

2) Review your brand

At Ditto, this is an annual exercise. We carry out a vigorous audit of what we've been up to, and what sorts of clients we're attracting. I recommend you do the same. What sort of clients are you winning? Are they bringing you the type of work you want, or do you need to revisit your brand strategy in order to attract a different demographic?

3) Think big

If nothing stood in your way, what sort of marketing activities would you love to carry out? Jot down a list of 5 activities you'd love to be able to do (budget and logistics aside). Perhaps you'd like to relaunch your website, start speaking at conferences or start advertising in a trade magazine. They don't have to be instantly achievable, but simply putting the thought out there will make it more likely to happen - at the very least, it'll get you thinking creatively.

4) Set a realistic budget

As a general rule, if you want to grow your business, you'll need to invest a little more in marketing spend than you did last year. Get your accountant involved to agree a realistic and affordable figure, and stick to it. I recommend setting aside a monthly marketing budget which you can dedicate to whatever you choose. Remember that marketing should be an investment, not a spend, and that your budget should be yielding a decent return for you. If it's not, you may need to review your activity.

5) Plan and diarise

Don't get caught in the trap of letting your marketing become a rushed, knee-jerk reaction to being offered a low cost last minute space at an exhibition. Trust me, you won't get the most from your spend if all of your marketing is carried out in this way! By diarising and committing to a plan you'll be much more likely to make everything happen.

What have you got planned for 2013? Image credit: Made by Morris via notonthehighstreet.com