Stay the course and follow through to reap (more) rewards in 2023.

CEDIA Expo 2022 Show FloorIn last month’s column, I spoke about making a marketing plan for CEDIA Expo and in recent posts I’ve shared how I was taught to do so way back in the day. If you followed my lead, you are holding a basket full of proverbial goodies — piping-hot prospects, potential partnerships, new business ideas, probably a lot of cool swag, and hopefully some market development funds (MDF) and co-op (co-operative advertising funds) that you already had your eye on or that I inspired you to seek out (if the latter, please share that story with me).Now, it’s time to create an actionable marketing plan for the year to come. Don’t take that basket of goodies you scored at CEDIA Expo and put it on a shelf to rot. Instead, turn it into something that will boost your business. Get on it now while conversations are still fresh in everyone’s mind and your collective motivation is high. This is the ideal atmosphere in which to build a stronger business. Go. Go. Go.Here’s a checklist to make sure you are hitting on all cylinders in terms of post-show follow-up.

Solidify That MDF and Co-Op

Hopefully, you had some strategic meetings with your key supplier partners that included a discussion about your 2023 marketing plans and available marketing and co-op funds. Assuming so, follow up with the manufacturer immediately, thank them for their time, remind them of what you spoke about, and close the deal in writing. Be sure you know what you need to produce in order to be reimbursed promptly and that your purchasing team or whoever is responsible for tracking purchases knows the objective and helps communicate the status.

Allocate Those Funds

Identify how your company will market its services and confirm the target audience for each. Develop or update your annual budget to allocate a percentage of revenue to marketing (shoot for 2 to 3 percent) and note where you have the opportunity to accrue or utilize additional funds. If there are stretch goals with even better funding, note those as well and develop ways to reach those goals. Here are a few ways to make those marketing dollars work for you.

  • Invest in Search: Are you the top search result for brands or services in your area? If not, it’s time to think about local SEO. We recommend hiring an industry-aware SEO consultant to help you with this. Consider Google Ads for buying search terms for the manufacturer and other relevant terms to funnel traffic to your website. Need a refresher course on upping your local presence? Click here for one of my past columns on the subject. I also participated in a digital marketing webinar hosted by Home Technology Association that you can find here, which goes into detail about some ways to boost your search presence and is filled with great insights!
  • Consider Direct Mail. Many manufacturers provide templates for direct mail pieces, or they’ll work with you to create one, and we’ve seen some very successful ones that were tailored to the local community. For example, take into account seasonal climate changes, tourism, or particular problems in your area that could be overcome by smart home technology…then go to town with the theme. Just be sure the imagery chosen is relatable to your target audience.
  • Professional Photo and Video. Unique visual assets created for your business that communicate the “why” of a product or service help differentiate you from your competition. Create a plan to capture the assets you need to tell the story of your business well to the audience you seek, get a few quotes from professional providers in your area, and then work with your supplier partners to submit the details required to obtain the funds you need to make production possible.

Get a Plan in Place for Social

Many home technology professionals neglect social media with the very valid excuse of being way too busy. Well, it’s not going away, and the role of the social media coordinator or manager is only expanding! Now’s the time to start thinking about a social media plan and budget, then hiring someone (on-staff or contract) to help you if you can’t tackle it on your own. The key? Getting a resource that knows the industry, knows social, and knows how to write for social media. Get your messaging points nailed down, get your promotions scheduled, and get your social calendar going (and stick to it!). For topics you don’t yet have a schedule in place for, simply “park” them on a separate tab that’s reviewed monthly and develop those topics accordingly. Sometimes it’s an image that’s needed, other times it’s data points or quotes. Don’t rush great content; keep working on it until it’s right. Of course, don’t let perfection be the enemy of progress, either.

Follow Up on Leads

The cardinal sin of marketing is letting a lead go cold. Depending on how many leads you have, you can either send an automated email campaign that “touches” the lead over the course of several weeks starting promptly after the show, or you can reach out to leads individually and personally, which is sometimes more effective than a mass email, albeit more time-consuming. Architect, builder, and interior designer leads are especially important to act on quickly to get in the queue ahead of your local competitors. Add them to your email list, following appropriate GDPR guidelines, of course. This is also a great time to evaluate, clean up, and re-segment your subscriber lists and review the quality of your newsletters — from both content and graphics perspectives.

Mine Sessions for Nuggets of Wisdom

What did you learn from some of the sessions at the show? What were people talking about afterward? From appealing marketing topics to business strategies, make a punch list of ideas and insights from the show and then add those to your marketing calendar or quarterly priorities list. All of this can be spun to promote your business, offering, or leadership. Don’t lose sight of this goodness!

Stay the Course

Sadly, marketing plans often get forgotten. That’s why it’s critical to revisit your marketing plan at least once a quarter and modify it according to current business trends or what your business needs, and then monitor and adjust to achieve needed results. Just stay the course and don’t let being busy kill your growth plans.

If you’re picking up what I’m putting down here, now is the time to develop your marketing success plan for 2023. Involve your supplier partners, fight for the resources you need, and stay the course. Successful marketing doesn’t happen on a dime or overnight!

Need an assist or want a little more guidance? Drop me a line and let’s set some time to talk — [email protected].

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A 25+ veteran of the residential tech & AV integration industries, Katye McGregor Bennett is the CEO of KMB Communications, a boutique communications firm that anchors the intersection of technology + design by connecting brands, buyers, and prospective audiences through creating compelling content and conversation that elevates and amplifies. In addition to co-hosting Design Uncut with Veronika Miller, Katye hosts two popular podcasts, Connecting Tech+ Design and AV Trade Talk. She is part of the DesignHounds influencer group and also serves on the NAHB Custom Technology Work Group, is a strategic advisor in the CEDIAHTA, and AVIXA communities, a frequent contributor to Residential SystemsConnected Design and founder of the AV Yoga group.