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Creating a One-Year Marketing Plan

In The Marketing Plan Handbook, author Robert W. Bly explains how you can develop big-picture marketing plans for pennies on the dollar with his 12-step marketing plan. In this edited excerpt, Bly offers some quick tips for creating a year-long marketing plan for your business. Entrepreneur

When planning out your business's marketing strategies, remember that a lot can change in a few years, so start with a one-year marketing plan. Create a plan either on paper or in a spreadsheet that includes the following elements:

You already set a goal for what you want to accomplish during the next year, created strategies to succeed in achieving that goal, and identified the top three to five tactics you’ll employ to implement the strategies. Now, it’s time to detail the actions you’ll take.

  • The goal: what you want to accomplish during the next year
  • The strategies: how you're going to achieve the goal
  • The tactics: the three to five things you need to do  to implement each strategy
  • The to-dos: the steps to take to implement each tactic
  • The timeline: an outline of how long it will take to complete the series of steps
  • The resources: who's responsible for carrying out the actions

Next, you'll need to set your annual marketing budget. This is often determined as a percentage of your total annual sales revenues, ranging anywhere from 0.01 percent to almost 10 percent. If your business is a startup, which usually means you have limited current revenues and desperately need to make sales and add customers, you may need to allocate more funds initially to bring in more business.

Once you have a marketing budget, you have to allocate it by month or by season and by marketing medium. The marketing mediums you may be considering include:

  • Newspapers
  • Consumer magazines
  • Trade publications
  • AM/FM radio
  • Satellite radio
  • Television
  • Direct mail
  • Point-of-purchase
  • Co-op
  • Content marketing
  • Social media

It's important to plot your major campaigns first. Major campaigns require more resources and time to get things done than the typical marketing actions you’ll take, so plan for those first. Use a major campaigns calendar that includes headings for the month, the campaign, the expected cost, the actual cost, the resources you'll need, the expected results and the actual results to help you think through the resources you’ll need to complete your actions. That way, you won’t be delayed because you failed to anticipate something you need until the last minute.

Once you've created your plan, it might at first glance look like a lot to take on. The best way to tackle your plan is to break it down into manageable segments. This is why you began by plotting the big stuff, the major campaigns, first. It gives you time to think about what each campaign will require: the actions to complete it, the resources need­ed, when it has to begin to be ready on time, and a tracking system to evaluate whether it did what it was supposed to do.

Here’s an easy way to approach this challenge:

  • Remember, you set a one-year goal and created strategies to achieve that goal. It makes sense to ask yourself what you need to accomplish by the halfway mark to stay on track to com­plete the annual goal. So begin with your six-month goals.
  • The halfway mark between six months and one year is nine months. Ask yourself what you’ll need to complete by nine months to meet the one-year goal.
  • Now, the halfway mark between your starting date and six months is three months. Ask yourself what you’ll need to complete during the first three months of your plan to stay on track to meet your six-month goal. Three months will come and go quickly without progress unless you’re taking regular action toward meeting your goals. It’s easy to wrap your mind around needing to have specific actions completed within the next month. So ask yourself what you must accomplish during the next month to stay on track to meet your three-month goals. Near the end of that month, do the same for the following month—knowing that you now have only two months left to hit your three-month markers.

One word of warning: Marketing activity and expenditures are usually not constant throughout the year. Your business may have busy seasons and slow seasons, and you'll need to plan your marketing activities accordingly. Accounting and tax preparation firms, for example, are enormously busy from January 1 through April 15, might want to do more marketing during the downtimes to help bring in business. But some businesses have constant work all year, such as electrical contractors. These businesses might use a more steady pattern and spread their marketing efforts equally over all 12 months.

Whatever plan you create, just be sure to follow through and stay on track and continue to measure your results so you can plan ahead year after year. 

What Makes a Memorable Logo Design (or Redesign)?

What Makes a Memorable Logo Design (or Redesign)?

Siegel+Gale study digs in

By Kristina Monllos  Originally posted by Adweek

If you've ever wondered what makes a logo sticky, unforgettable even, you're not alone. Branding firm Siegel + Gale wanted to know too, but after finding little research providing any insight, the shop decided to look into it.

According to Siegel+Gale's new study, Logos Now, logos that are most memorable to the general public use a clear and simple design. Nike, Apple, McDonald's and Coca-Cola are the most memorable global logos; Google, Microsoft, Pepsi, Amazon, Target and Adidas round out the top 10. 

"Simple was the word that came up above and beyond, more than anything else," said Brian Rafferty, global director of research insights for Siegel+Gale. "When people were asked what makes a logo memorable, it was simplicity." 

The branding firm conducted an online study with 3,000 respondents in the U.S. and U.K. who were asked to evaluate logos for more than 100 of the world's largest brands.

According to the findings, memorable logos are 13 percent more likely to get consumers' attention, 7 percent more likely to make them want to learn more about the brand, and 6 percent more likely to suggest a company is more unique than others in its category. 

"We now have a benchmark to look at what design can do," said Rafferty. "One of the things the study shows is that there's a familiarity bias in the sense that when people are familiar with brands, they're much more likely to assign positives, and they're much more likely to assign negatives to the same design if they're not familiar with it."

That bias helps explain why consumers react so strongly to brands like Verizon's or Google'slogo redesigns.

"You see the controversy that always comes up as soon as brands launch new logos," said Rafferty. "One of the things that's great about now having this basis is that we have the benchmark to kind of discount that familiarity bias and really evaluate if logos are doing the job they should be doing or not." 

Plus, the study helps show what logo design can and can't do for brands. 

"Often we get requests like, 'I really want my logo identity to show that we're trusted,' and we saw that that actually comes much more from the brand itself and not so much design," said Rafferty. "Design can indicate being traditional, but trust and respect—that's really something that's communicated more by what the brand does than the logo." 

Here's a breakdown of the attributes associated with certain designs, per the study:

Powerful
Geometric logos are more commonly associated with being powerful than other logo treatments. Logos with initials are a close second.

Traditional
Serif wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being traditional than other logos. Font-based wordmarks come in a close second.

Warm and caring
Organic logos are nearly twice as likely to be associated with being warm or caring than any other logo types.

Trendy
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being trendy than others.

Sophisticated or exclusive
Serif wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being "sophisticated" or "exclusive" than any other logos. In fact, no other logo treatment was in top consideration for being "sophisticated" or "exclusive."

Respected
Serif wordmark logos are most commonly associated with being respected. Geometric logos come in a close second.

Fun
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are about twice as likely to be associated with being fun as other logos.

Approachable
Holding shape logos are more commonly associated with being approachable than any other logo treatments. No other logo treatment was in top consideration for being "approachable."

Cool
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being cool than other logos.

Original
Holding shape logos are most associated with being original. No other treatment was in top consideration for being "original."

Edgy
Initials logos are more commonly associated with being edgy than other logos. 

Friendly
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being friendly other logo treatments.

Reliable
Holding shape and initials logos are almost equally associated with being reliable, making them tops for that attribute.

Stylish
Illustrative custom wordmark logos are more commonly associated with being stylish than any other logo treatment.

Innovative
Organic and geometric logos are almost equally associated with being innovative, tops for that attribute.