3 Easy Steps to a Smarter 2024 Marketing Strategy
It's time to build a 2024 marketing strategy that can go the distance. Here's how to map out the road ahead.
Readers, let me say that I am by no means a marathon runner. When it comes to working out, it’s high-intensity exercises—kettlebells, burpees, box jumps—that have always lured me with their siren call of maximum reward in minimal time.
But looking at all the photos and videos of the New York Marathon from this past weekend, I was struck by the kind of steady commitment and planning required by anyone who finished those 26.2 miles. Not only did most of the runners start training for the marathon months ago, but getting through the course itself no doubt required smart use of their available energy through the whole race.
Much the same can be said about planning a marketing and advertising strategy that can carry your business through the whole year. As we near the end of 2023, a lot of small business owners and marketing specialists are realizing this year’s marketing efforts might have felt more like several chaotic sprints rather than a coordinated marathon.
With economic trends still looking different than they did pre-pandemic, it makes sense that businesses have been pulling back to the safety of last-minute marketing and advertising. But those kinds of sprint-like efforts can often end in lackluster results in the long term: fewer sales made and a lower return on investment for your advertising than what you could be getting.
Ready to start thinking of your marketing like a marathoner? Here are three steps you can take to begin building a smarter 2024 marketing strategy.
1. Map Out Your Business’s Peak Seasons
If planning out your marketing budget down to the penny a year in advance feels completely out of the question, you can still create a long-term strategy that provides a rough outline for the months ahead. Step one is to take a good, hard look at the calendar and ask yourself two questions: What months of the year are typically your high-volume seasons? Your low seasons?
The answer is going to be different depending on which category your business is in. For instance, most specialty retail businesses generally see sales spike around the holiday months. Jewelry stores, a subset of specialty retail, also tend to have a February lift thanks to Valentine’s Day.
In the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires, the high seasons for event-based businesses and restaurants correlate with the tourism-heavy months between May and October. The winter is often a low season by default because the frigid temps either prompt a seasonal close to operations or a downturn in consumer spending after the holidays.
Not sure what your own business’s trends are? Dig into your records from the last couple of years and see what your sales logs say.
Once you’ve identified your traditional high- and low-sales months, you can create a marketing calendar to match. Plan to ramp up your marketing and advertising two to six months before your usual high-volume months. Where your business falls in that spectrum depends a little on whether your business is well-known or brand new, and whether your product or service is something that customers will need to spend months considering before they commit to buying.
2. Budget to Build Awareness All Year Long
Building a marketing calendar around your high-sales seasons is a great way to identify what months and business initiatives are going to receive most of your budget. However, a business that only pops a few times a year is going to have a harder time earning loyalty and return customers. That’s where general brand awareness marketing comes in. Brand awareness marketing is anything that tells customers about your business with the goal of familiarizing them with your brand.
It’s probably a given that you should always be marketing your business through consistent use of your owned-and-operated channels (e.g. announcements through your email list, social media accounts, website, and at your storefront or physical space).
Businesses trying to establish themselves or their products and services in the market, those dealing with lower-than-desired sales, and anyone with a long lead time to a customer sale should also be allocating a little bit of their advertising budget to most months of the year.
In the vast world of modern advertising, how do you choose the right ones for your business? If you can afford to be everywhere all year long, it’s a great idea to spread your advertising dollars around digital, print, radio, TV, and social media and see which ones pick up the most traction for your business.
As is the case with most small businesses, though, you probably have to choose carefully between your advertising channels.
If general brand awareness is your goal, it’s far more effective to spend your budget with one or two advertising outlets consistently throughout the year, or for at least three to six months at a time. If you only advertise for one month at a time, for instance, there’s a chance your target customers might not see, hear, or watch your advertisement during that month. Increasing the number of months your advertising runs increases your reach, which increases the likelihood of more customers learning about your business or completing a sale.
3. Sit Down for a Strategy Conversation
Concentrating on your peak sales seasons and investing in general brand awareness advertising for most of the year are great starting points, but at the end of the day, every small business and its needs are different.
If you’re feeling like you’re not sure where to concentrate your advertising efforts or how to split your budget among print or other traditional advertising channels and digital, the best thing you can do is sit down for a conversation about your strategy with a media professional.
Our team at Chronogram Media has experience working with hundreds of small businesses in the Hudson Valley, Catskills, and Berkshires each year. We are experts in regional industry-specific advertising trends and results for arts and cultural institutions, real estate, architecture and design, restaurants, retail, health and wellness, and more. Not only do we create robust marketing campaigns and strategize the best ways to get your business the exposure it needs, our locally based team cares about helping small businesses in our region thrive.
Want to learn more about how your small business can increase the impact of its marketing and advertising efforts? Reach out to our team at [email protected] to start a conversation.