Preparing your 2014 digital marketing plan, part 1: Setting strategy

It’s here again! Preparations have begun to outline your 2014 marketing activities, and the challenge is daunting. How to tackle the digital marketing aspects of your planning and budgeting? 

In the next series of posts, I will give you our current thinking on how best to approach the process and some helpful hints on how to dominate your market in 2014. Spoiler alert — there is no silver bullet, so be prepared to work hard and diligently.

Do you work with a digital agency? If so, encourage them to be a part of this process from beginning to end. After all, marketing plans will dictate their activity on your behalf for the coming year.

Successful marketing begins with goals and strategies and ends with tactics. Unfortunately, many folks often confuse these very different aspects. The following are examples of each:

Goal: Grow percentage of leisure transient business coming from 50-mile drive radius by 20% in 2014.

Strategy: Appeal to the target market by positioning the property’s ample parking and easy access to local attractions when compared to the competition.

Tactic: Launch a paid search campaign targeting consumers inside of a 50-mile drive radius. Ads should feature verbiage regarding the hotel’s superior location and complimentary parking. 

You don’t get to the tactic without the strategy or the strategy without the goal. 

Review your performance in 2012 and 2013. Where have you seen growth that you want to accentuate? Are there new markets you can open or revenue outlets that can be better positioned for success? We even recommend creating a formal year in review, highlighting the successes and challenges of your marketing efforts to date.

Armed with this information, you can begin to set reasonable and defined goals.  Remember, goals must always be measureable. Aspirations, while loaded with good intentions, do not belong in annual plans.

Aspiration: Get more business through our website.

Goal: Grow website revenue from 25% of our total transient business to 32% of our transient business.

Once you have a set of goals, the real fun begins. For each goal, begin to formalize a strategy that can help accomplish what you have set out to do. It can be tempting to skip strategy and delve directly into tactics. For example, with the above goal in mind, one might say “increase Google budget by 25%.” I have said many times that strategy is the glue that holds marketing together. Without it, the different aspects of your campaign will operate in a bubble, losing efficiency and ultimately leaving money on the table. 

Once you have developed a comprehensive list of strategies, make sure they aren’t a secret. Share the work you’ve done with other departments as well as the vendors who support you. It will be everyone’s task to build specific tactics and campaigns that support the overall strategies you outline. Strive to create a cohesive approach to all aspects of your marketing plan. 

In the coming posts, we will delve deeper into the specific digital marketing areas that should be contemplated as you develop your plan to drive new growth in revenue.