Fall is upon us, which means it’s time to start planning for 2012. The period from October through December is an excellent time to review your existing marketing activities, create a new plan and prepare for the new year so you can hit the ground running in January. Below are five quick steps to get you to take a break from 2011 and get your 2012 marketing strategy rolling.

  1. Update your marketing message. Do your prospects and centers of influence (COIs) understand who you serve, how you serve them and how you are different from your competitors? If not, it is time to look at your overall messaging. Develop a clear story about what makes you different and the value you provide to your clients. If you aren’t clearly communicating how you serve your clients, how are your prospects going to understand the value you bring?
  2. Review your marketing collateral. When was the last time you updated your marketing collateral and website? If you can’t remember or if it has been over a year, it’s time to review your marketing communication tools. Most likely you will find your content to be out of date or conveying an inappropriate message. For 2012, consider creating marketing collateral that can be easily updated from year to year such as one-pagers instead of traditional brochures that have to be ordered by the thousands.
  3. Evaluate existing activities. Before you begin planning for 2012, evaluate your marketing activities from 2011 and even earlier. What worked? What didn’t? There is no reason to reinvent the wheel each year, so plan on repeating what is currently working for you. Analyze the campaigns that haven’t worked and see if there is a way to improve them. If not, make the decision to abandon them. These existing activities will provide the basis for next year’s campaign.
  4. Create a plan. Get out your calendar for 2012 and begin planning your activities for the year. Start with the campaigns that have worked in the past as your foundation and build from there. Diversify your campaigns to address referral, direct and word-of-mouth marketing to generate clients from a variety of sources. Also choose a mix of mediums from face-to-face interaction to online channels to reach prospects from a variety of angles.
  5. Begin implementation. Implementation doesn’t begin on January 1—it starts months prior to the new year. The process of updating your marketing message or communication tools can take a couple of weeks to a couple of months and should be completed before the start of 2012. Organizing events and workshops need to happen six to 10 weeks in advance, so the planning for any January event should begin in November.

Don’t wait until January to start planning for 2012. Take advantage of the three months left in 2011 to prepare for a stellar marketing strategy for next year.

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Kristen Luke is the principal of Wealth Management Marketing, a firm dedicated to providing marketing strategies and support for registered investment advisory firms. For more information, visit www.wealthmanagementmarketing.net.