January is quickly approaching. Planning for 2016 is fully underway. Does your planning include marketing?

Buyer behaviour has drastically changed over the past decade thanks to the internet. Today, buyers are 80% of the way through the purchase process when they are ready to speak with someone at your company. Companies working hard to address this 80% "gap" are the ones most likely to get the sale. This is why so many businesses are paying attention to their marketing now.

Whether you have a full-time marketer or marketing is a small part of someone's responsibilities, here are four reasons why you need a strategy guiding your marketing in 2016:

  1. You'll get better results
    A small budget doesn't go far, so don't waste it. Be deliberate. Aim to reach out to specific types of people versus everyone everywhere. If you are selling multiple products decide if you want to put more energy into promoting one this year. Strategy ensures you focus resources on specific people, geography, tactics and elements of your offering.
     
  2. Your messaging will be more compelling
    Marketing assets that are created ad hoc almost always lead to inconsistent messaging and design. Presenting your company consistently over time starts with articulating your offering and pinpointing what makes you different from the competition. Not only will saying the same thing across your marketing assets improve your stickiness in the minds of buyers, it will also eliminate all guesswork for your buyers. Setting some basic user guidelines for the graphic design (colours, fonts, images) helps a lot too.
     
  3. You'll generate and convert more leads
    Giving thought to what gaps in your marketing-sales process need to be filled allows you to direct your resources toward closing gaps. Do potential buyers know you exist? Are you providing them the information they need when they are learning and evaluating? Is there something you can equip sales with that will help close more deals? Aligning marketing tactics with the buyer journey will get more people into and through the buying process. (Read more about aligning tactics with your funnel in this Hop Skip article.)
     
  4. You'll stop wasting money
    Setting goals and tracking effectiveness is essential to figuring out what's working and what's not. Decide ahead of time what key performance indicators matter to you so you avoid getting mired in data.

Even if you are extremely limited in what marketing you can afford to do, focus, consistency and analysis will improve the results you are seeing. Don't let another year pass you buynow's the time to layout your strategy.