As we begin to wind down 2018, most of us are already thinking about how we plan to hit the ground running in 2019. You’re probably planning to revamp your marketing strategy and plan, as you’ve done every other year. This year, however, much has changed. With the growth and impact of emotional storytelling, video, social proof, content marketing, and more, it’s crucial that your marketing plan is stripped and rebuilt to ensure it’s both current and optimized.

Unfortunately, I can’t give you a tailored marketing strategy in this blog post. You could easily be a software developer in LA or a consultant in NYC. But, there is one thing I can give you — because it applies to all businesses. Whatever your industry, whatever your market, there are core elements your updated marketing plan needs before it even starts.

Ready to start building your new marketing plan? Here are the things you need to do first.

Review & Analyze 2018

The first step will be to take stock of everything that went on last year. What was the marketing budget? What were the goals? What were the challenges, and where were the gaps? Once you have a clear understanding of what went wrong and what went right in the previous 12 months, you’ll have some data and insight to point you in the right direction.

Get Reacquainted With Your Target Audience

Next, you want to revisit who your target audience is. Has your target changed, or have the behaviors or buying patterns of this person changed? Make sure your customer research and buyer personas are updated, current, and accurate. This is a huge step that many businesses miss, as they assume their work from several years ago is still relevant — sorry, but it’s not.

Establish Your Goals & KPI’s

Decide what the goals and objectives are for 2019, and establish what metrics will be tracked to measure performance. Ideally, you should always aim to set goals that are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

Start Brainstorming Ways To Achieve Your Goals

Start with what did and did not work from last year, and do some research to see what’s trending, upcoming, and working for the competition. In this stage, no idea is a bad one. This is about learning, exploring, and understanding what your options are.

Get Honest About Money, Resources & Time

Last, but certainly not least, it’s time to get real about funds and constraints. What is the marketing budget you have to work with this upcoming year? What other resources do you need or have access to? Who is included in your marketing team and how much time does each individual have to spend on this throughout the year? Now is the time to get crystal clear on your budget and your team’s capabilities.

Once you’ve worked through these core elements of creating the right foundation, you’re now fully prepared to start writing out your marketing strategy. It’s important not to rush any of these steps — otherwise, you risk creating messages for the wrong person, or chasing marketing strategies you can’t afford. Taking the time to create the right foundation will empower your team to create an effective, actionable, and realistic plan that will help your business achieve its marketing goals this upcoming year.