Planning is an opportunity. It’s a chance to review how the current plan is working (provided you have a current plan). And it’s the time to reexamine current goals moving forward.

Where your marketing strategy is concerned – planning is EVERYTHING. Sure it’s fun to come up with new ideas and easy to get excited about the latest this or that. And while those are the moments a creative mind adores, they are merely the tip of iceberg in terms of planning your marketing strategy.

Here are some steps that you can take now to lay the foundation for a 2014 marketing strategy that will generate results.

1. Who is Your Customer? 

If you can define who your customer truly is, you’re well on the way to creating a marketing plan that works. Start with ideal customers or clients who are already onboard. Think of the customers that you wish you had more of every time you do business with them. They represent your ideal archetype so use them as a model.

Begin to identify everything about them including demographics, family, work, and lifestyles then create a representation of the ideal customer. You may very well have more than one for every brand or niche. The model you generate is the answer to “who is your customer?”

2. Where is Your Customer? 

You’re going to have some natural understanding of where your customers are offline, once you identify them. Online may be another story. A little research of the most popular social media and social networking sites will tell you if that site entertains people who meet your model of the ideal customer. Don’t assume that you should be everywhere. You may discover that there are very specific websites where your customers can be found. Narrow your target rather than take the spaghetti cannon approach. The results will be better and you’ll waste less time and money.

3. Build Your Content

This is where it can start to get fun so put your creative thinking cap on. Now you can start to build out your content strategy for the year. It helps to piggyback on holidays and seasonal events. No need to reinvent the wheel. Get a 2014 calendar that identifies common holidays and choose those that are most appropriate for your business to target. Likewise, look at the seasonal events that happen throughout the year including philanthropic efforts, weather related incidents, sports and entertainment both local and national, politics and more. All of the events we use to mark our lives throughout the course of a year are opportunities for marketing.

4. Don’t Overdo It

Just because you can find 45 holidays and events that happen every month doesn’t mean you should be using all of them. Choose those that most appeal to your ideal customer model, and build campaigns around a theme. Don’t get too concerned with actual dates; after all, Christmas starts in July now doesn’t it? “Back-to-school” ranges from early August through late September depending on the education level and area of the country. You are targeting a season in time, not hard dates.

5. Use a Consistent Voice

Your business brand should have a voice that ideal customers can recognize across ALL marketing platforms. Keep the messaging cohesive. Don’t use one theme and voice here and change your theme and voice over there. It’s confusing and makes people uncertain. If your business doesn’t have a voice you can create one the same way you create a model customer persona. The voice of your business may be exactly like you, consider Martha Stewart and Oprah for example. Or you can choose to use a voice that best reflects your brand’s uniqueness, like the Old Spice Guy. This is another chance to be creative and have some fun if appropriate.

6. Be Everywhere

With very few tweaks and edits, you can put content you create to use in a multitude of ways. This will give you the opportunity to be everywhere your ideal customers hang out. Images used in offline print can be used online for your social media and website. A speech you give at the Chamber of Commerce can be edited to become a blog post, email and hard copy newsletter article. Pull headlines from that blog post and use them on Twitter. Use the opening paragraph on Google Plus and refer readers back to the blog. Encourage website visitors to give you their email address for a resource guide (another way to repurpose that speech). An offline contest can just as easily be run on social media and on mobile (make sure to run it by your attorney first). It’s easy to combine your marketing channels so that you can be everywhere without having to invent new content at every turn.

7. Identify Your Metrics

It does you no good to have a year’s worth of marketing initiatives ready if you don’t keep track of what works and what doesn’t. Determine your goals – drive web traffic, make the phone ring, bring in foot traffic, increase social media presence – and define metrics that allow you to measure increases based on you marketing strategy.

Plan now and see what works so in 2015 you can rinse and repeat…