Start Your Year Off Right

I know the New Year is still a couple months away and that there are several other holidays to come before New Years, but I also know that many organizations start their annual strategic plan or their next fiscal budget on January 1 and the time to start planning for that is now.

Be Intentional:
As you start planning next year’s budget or strategic plan what role will marketing have?  What roll will SEO have?  If you don’t plan for it or budget for it, then it’s likely that next October, your website will be ranking in the same place it is now…if it hasn’t dropped lower.  You have to be intentional about your online marketing if want to improve things.

Setting Goals:
Where to you want to be a year from now?  Do you want a 20% increase in traffic? Do you want a 30% increase in sales?  Do you want 10% more new people visiting your church each week?  As you start to prepare for next year, look at where you are now and develop some specific, reasonable, but challenging goals.  Then write them down.

Writing Action Steps and Setting Deadlines:
A plan is just a day dream unless you write out a plan, set deadlines, and then stick to them.  So, how are you going to reach your goals?  If you want to increase traffic to your website, are you going to implement search engine optimization on your website?  Are you going to start a link building campaign?  If you want more conversions, are you going to not only increase traffic to your website, but also work on the content of your website so a greater percentage of the people who visit your website convert?  If you don’t think you’ll be able to do it yourself, are you going to hire a search marketing professional to optimize your site and build links for you?

Goals are not plans.  As you prepare for this coming year, write out specific action steps that you will do so that you can achieve your goals.  Then you have to set deadlines.  Without deadlines, those action steps tend to just sit on a to-do list and never get done.

Setting Up Metrics:
You’re blind without setting up some form of metrics to measure the success of your work.  It would be like never having any form of testing in school and thinking, “As long as we have a teacher in the room, we’ll just assume the kids are learning.”  Just like it’s important to test in school to make sure the kids are understanding the material, it’s important to setup a way to measure the results of the marketing work you are doing so you can see what is working and what needs to be tweaked.

Do you have analytics setup on your website?  Analytics allow you to track the traffic on your website so you can see how much traffic your getting, where the traffic is coming from (search engines, other sites, etc), what those visitors are doing, and whether they are converting.  If you have offline elements to your organization, then you need to develop off-line ways of measuring what’s going on.  For example, churches, do you have a way to find out how new visitors found your church?  The same question for schools, when someone calls to schedule a visit or walk-through, do you ask how they found your school?  You need to know so that you can keep doing what works and either change or stop doing what isn’t working.

No Action = Atrophy:
A lot of people think that if they aren’t doing search engine optimization, they are just staying where they are, they are static.  But that’s not the case.  Search engines are dynamic.  It’s like a race.  If you are running in 3rd place in a race and you just stop, not only will you not get into first place, but the folks who are running in 4th and 5th place will pass you.  So, SEO is not something where you can say, “Well, we’re doing well enough right now.  So, we’ll just hold off on doing anything until next year.”  By the time next year comes around, you may find you are no longer doing well enough because your competitors have moved up in the rankings, pushing you down.  If you don’t have an SEO plan that you are acting on, you are probably sinking.

The Budget:
Finally, an organization’s budget is usually a pretty good indicator of where that organization’s priorities are.  If you’re only budgeting a couple hundred dollars for marketing, then your organization hasn’t made marketing a priority.  You need to have  a budget that supports those goals you made above.  I know there are a lot of things that are important to do and your budget is limited, but also remember that marketing is different than those other budget items.  It can’t be said often enough, marketing is an investment and should not only return the money you invest, but increase it.  So, when everyone else says that their project/department needs more money and that you should get it by reducing marketing, remind them that without the marketing, you probably wouldn’t be able to budget them the money they are getting.

Achieve Your Mission!
So, as you start to look at the year ahead and plan out your strategies and budgets, consider what you are going to do to improve things on your website in order to meet the goals you have for your organization.  How are you going to increase the traffic to your website?  What online marketing strategies do you need to implement in order reach your goals?  Make a solid plan.  Create action steps with deadlines.  Budget appropriately.  Track the success of your work and make adjustments as necessary.  If you do this, you can achieve the goals and dreams you have for organization!

Share with us:

  • Do you create an annual strategic plan in your organization?  If so, what time of year do you do it?
  • What is your online marketing plan for next year?

Kurt Steinbrueck is the Director of Marketing Services with OurChurch.Com. He also serves on the leadership of Family of Christ Lutheran Church in Tampa, FL. You can find him on Google+ as .

3 Responses to “Start Your Year Off Right”

  1. Thank you, I am starting today.

  2. Great article! Hope it still not too late in the year to put these tips to use haha