And just like that, more than half of the year is over! Remember that marketing plan you created back in December to build your brand in 2018? How is that going?

Hopefully you are on pace with the plan and have months of data to determine your successes. Good news, if you feel like you’re off track, you still have a few months to finish strong. If you are in the group that never got around to implementing your plan, now’s your time to use the final two quarters of the year to plow ahead.

Take time to review what worked and what didn’t.

Analyzing your marketing win/loss ratio can be overwhelming if you don’t know how to get started. The best first step is to audit the marketing initiatives you completed Q1 and Q2. Hopefully you tracked them as they were underway, but if you haven’t, take the time to go back and review thoroughly now.

Marketing your business takes time and money so you need to be sure that what you are doing is making a positive impact.

Keep your strategy fluid as your business changes.

Once you know what worked – and what didn’t – adjust your plan for the second half of the year. There’s no need to continue with an initiative that isn’t showing traction just because it’s in the plan.

Also, go back to your ideas from the beginning of the year to see what hasn’t yet been implemented and work them into your plan for the second half of the year. Planning for new opportunities will be key to your success.

Your plan should evolve with the latest marketing trends. This doesn’t mean you should jump at the first shiny object that comes your way, but it does mean you should stay abreast of what other successful companies are doing to market their business.

As you plan for the second half of the year, consider these key marketing trends:

1. Video is KingVideo continues to be the best way to be found online.

Your audience loves video, which means that social media platforms and Google love video. It drives organic engagement better than any other type of content. Additionally, viewers retain more information if they see it on a video.

Consider using a production company to help in creating professional, polished video content. Yes, even you small business marketers! Don’t let the fear of cost slow you down; there are affordable options out there. There are also some high-quality apps and software to help you get your videos online.

2. Power People – UGC. User Generated Content (UGC) is the greatest contribution social media has added to the marketing world.

UGC is any content created by unpaid contributors – fans of the brand. This makes whatever they are saying more authentic and less commercial, which is very important to customers. By allowing UGC, trust is built with your consumers, they spend more time on your sites and there’s less pressure for you to create new content.

Of course, you’re also opening yourself up to what they may post, so you monitor it closely to ensure the message reflects the way you want your brand represented.

3. Be Social. The most obvious perk of launching organic social media campaigns is it’s free. But even more important is the fact that it’s a fairly simple way to build your brand online.

Any work you do on social media platforms increases your search rankings. Everything you do online is connected. Consider starting a “like” campaign to entice people to like your pages. But also consider taking that campaign to the next level and purchase online advertising through the platform (such as LinkedIn or Facebook).

The good news is this form of advertising is reasonable in price and very trackable. Everyone loves a contest so if you throw in a prize, and then promote the winner, it’s a plus for everyone. There are plenty of free resources online to help you get started. Check out the top trends in 2018 that you can still work on implementing.

4. Easy to read content: meaning clear and concise but also accessible.

Looking at your website, is it simple, clean and mobile-friendly? Are you consistent with your distribution to your audience through your many platforms? Have you considered adding email marketing?

Email marketing lets you connect to your clients with helpful information (without being overbearing) while also reminding them about your brand and expertise. Click rates are trackable so you can tweak the content to best reflect their needs. With video, your reader wants to enjoy what you are sending and learn at the same time. Remember, your content should always have the end goal of capturing your consumer while driving engagement.

Search engines like new content, so include a content refresh. Closely review the analytics of the content you pushed out, on your website and through social media channels. Take note of things that worked and can be refreshed and tweaked, as well as of things that don’t make sense to do again.

Take these next several months left in 2018 as an opportunity to boost your brand. If you have a plan, be sure to implement it. If you don’t, create one. The key is to monitor your marketing efforts for the next few months to help ensure you finish this year strong and set up next year to be even better than this year.