How to Craft Your Marketing Plan for 2014

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Oct 30, 2013 @ 04:07 PM

Ruwena Healy, CEO of Marketing 24/7, Inc., in Trussville, Alabama, USA chaired the final judging committee for the Communications and Marketing Awards categories in the 2013 Stevie Awards for Women in Business, the world's top honors for women executive, entrepreneurs, and the organizations they run. Her company won the Gold Stevie for Low Budget Communications Campaign of the Year in the 2012 Stevies for women. Here she applies her own award-winning marketing expertise to provide some tips for marketers on planning for 2014.

Like many companies, you are probably in the midst of preparing your strategic plans for 2014. Successful business leaders understand that in order to anticipate a profitable upcoming year, you have to plan.

Ruwena HealyIf you are struggling with the planning process for your marketing and social media, or need a few ideas about how to implement a plan going forward, here are a few important tips to keep in mind:

1. Figure out where you stand.

It may seem obvious, but in order for you to move forward, you have to figure out where you are right now. This means taking a serious look at the inner workings of your marketing and social media plan. Conducting an internal and external audit of where your business really is—and not where you think it is—will give you a true picture of where you stand. Now would also be a good time to examine the strengths and weaknesses of your business. What are you doing right and what have you done that hasn’t worked?

2. What are you trying to accomplish?

Too often, businesses think that if they advertise everywhere and post everything on social media, they will magically receive countless leads, gain more loyal customers, and increase their bottom line. In order to craft the right message to get concerted results, you must identify what outcome you are looking for and then proceed to target the right market with the right message through the right medium.

3. Identify your target market and plan how to reach them.

The best way to identify your target market is by investing the time to create a buyer persona. A buyer persona is an example of a real person you need to influence crafted from information you retrieve from interviews you conduct with customers or potential customers, or from website and social media analytics you collect from your website or social media business page. For example, you can gather the analytics from your Facebook page to find out the exact age group, demographics, and gender of the individuals who visit your page the most. From this information, create a persona of an individual within that median group and make a plan that targets your message toward him/her to gain more engagement and interest in your business. Understanding who your clients are will help you serve their needs and keep them coming back.

4. Have clear objectives and goals and research, research, research.

Be specific about your own objectives and goals. Do they align with your business’ mission and priorities? How will you get there? Which team members will be accountable for implementation? What are your competitors doing? Research is a critical component that too often is left out of the planning process. Research is a continual part of the process that you have to take time to achieve if you want your overall plan to be succinct and, most of all, successful.

5. Evaluate.

You’re not done: You must evaluate! Put benchmarks in place (i.e. quarterly) to review what you’ve done, measure your success, research some more, and evaluate your successes and failures.

Strategic planning is a vital part of any business and if you want to use marketing and social media to help brand your business, you need to take the time to think things through and get the most out of your time and resources. Remember the old saying: “Plan your work and work your plan!”

About Ruwena Healy
Ruwena Healy is the CEO of Marketing 24/7, Inc., a full-service marketing, branding, and public relations firm, which she founded 8 years ago. Marketing 24/7 has a diverse client list and is one of Birmingham, Alabama’s Top 10 PR firms. Marketing 24/7 and Ruwena have garnered numerous international, national, state, and local business awards. In addition to recently being awarded “Honorable Mention” in the international Enterprising Women of the Year Award by Enterprising Women magazine, Ruwena won a Gold Stevie in the 2012 Stevie Awards for Women In Business. Ruwena was recently named 1st runner up in the Birmingham Business Journal’s Social Madness competition that showcased a company’s social media savvy by gaining new followers and encouraging follower engagement. 

Ruwena continues to gain popularity as a LinkedIn expert and trainer (her LinkedIn profile was among the Top 1% of the Most Viewed profiles in 2012). She is a sought-after speaker, trainer, and lecturer, and has also presented numerous programs on branding, social media, public relations, and how to successfully get the word out about your business. Ruwena maintains a marketing blog at and her articles have appeared in PR News’ 2011 Crisis Management Guidebook, Birmingham Business Journal, The Birmingham News, Alabama Business News, and Ruwena is an active member of the Birmingham, Alabama community:  she is a member of The Women’s Network; a member of the Board of Directors of the Public Relations Council of Alabama’s Birmingham Chapter; a former Board member and currently a member of the Public Relations Society of America Alabama Chapter; and a current member of Alabama Women In Business.

Ruwena has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing from the University of Florida and a Masters in Business Administration from Florida State University. Today, with twin boys that are seven years old, Ruwena gives her time to fundraisers for their school and as a leader in the Cub Scouts.

About Marketing 24/7
Marketing 24/7, Inc. works with a diverse client list of companies, entrepreneurs, and professionals to offer unique expertise in personal branding and company branding. The firm has proven itself with marketing and business development effectiveness for the purpose of increasing revenue and profits.  For more information go to:

Topics: communications awards, business awards, marketing awards, stevie awards, women awards, women in business awards, Ruwena Healy

Marketing Award Winner's Outreach Overcomes Shoestring Budget

Posted by Liz Dean on Wed, Mar 14, 2012 @ 05:05 PM

Marketing 24/7, Inc., of Birmingham, Alabama, USA, received the Stevie® Award for Small Budget Marketing Campaign of the Year in the marketing awards categories of The 2011 American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. (The 2012 ABAs are now accepting entries. Download your entry kit here and submit entries by the March 28 deadline.) Here we look at how Marketing 24/7's outreach catapulted their campaign.

About the Campaign
The Business Makeover Birmingham® (BMB®) project is an annual joint program that was started in 2008 with seven Project Partners including a bank, a sales coach, an accounting firm, an insurance company, a law firm, and the business school of a university. In 2009 and 2010, these businesses and professional service providers contributed services worth more than $30,000 each year.  As part of their services, one company (nominated by Birmingham, Alabama-based companies) received a strategic business makeover.

Promoting the BMB® Contest
The communications awards winner was charged with developing and implementing a marketing campaign for both the 2009 and 2010 BMB® contests. Marketing 24/7's campaign components consisted of announcing the makeover and its services, encouraging the business community to apply, announcing the five finalists and the ultimate winner, branding the Project Partners, and providing updates regarding the winners’ makeover progress. 

Shoestring Budget
The overall budget for promoting BMB® was very much “on a shoestring.” Only one-third of the initial investment by the Project Partners was devoted to advertising in the first year. In the second, the advertising component was increased to two-thirds of the total marketing budget.

Marketing 24/7 secured a free website template and hosting while leveraging social media to promote the business makeover contest.

Despite the small budget, media coverage was beyond expectation with coverage in newspapers, magazines, TV, and the Internet.  The BMB® winners received extensive publicity obtained by Marketing 24/7. 

Campaign Outreach
The Stevie Award winner was responsible for a number of events and activities, some of which included:

  • Planning a winner’s event hosted by BMB® Project Partners where 100 businesspeople heard the lessons learned from the winner’s strategic business makeover
  • Working with a city-wide business newspaper to publish frequent update articles in print and online regarding the competition’s progress and winners
  • Statewide coverage of the inaugural BMB® winner in a business magazine
  • The designing and placing of print ads soliciting BMB® entries and announcing the finalists and winner
  • Providing media training for all Project Partners and winners in order to generate more awareness and coverage of the contest
  • Creating an online feature placement blog through a major lifestyle magazine
  • Providing bi-weekly updates to the BMB® website and to social media sites such as LinkedIn and Twitter
  • Distributing monthly e-newsletters and “best practices” articles
  • Creating numerous promotional fliers
  • Developing an internal e-newsletter for the second annual BMB® winner
  • Writing and distributing news releases to announce the finalists and winners for publication in major publications, online, and in the BMB® e-newsletter
  • Planning a press reception for BMB® finalists
  • Pitching articles for the contest winners’ business and charitable activities
  • Securing numerous feature articles in two different, glossy lifestyle magazines in Birmingham, Alabama
  • Landing a feature article in the Sunday Business section of Alabama’s largest newspaper for the 2010 BMB® winner

Overall Results
With more than 25 articles published over two years, this business award winning campaign has attained exceptional results for BMB® with positive media coverage for all participants.  Other benefits have included:

  • increased awareness from the business community;
  • an up-tick in clients for Project Partners;
  • substantial savings and/or increased revenues for the winners; and
  • a strong following by the general public.

The winners of the contest have been delighted by the results, and many other businesses and individuals are interested in being nominated for future BMB® contests.

Marketing 24/7's Success
Ruwena HealyOn being presented with a marketing award, Ruwena Healy, President of Marketing 24/7, said: “I’m honored to be a Project Partner of Business ‎Makeover Birmingham® and to have had the opportunity to work with top leaders in the business community. ‎This award was made possible by the efforts of a great team of marketing professionals including several from the Project Partners’ companies.” ‎

The communications award winner added: "Winning in The American Business Awards has definitely catapulted my business into a whole different sphere. My company is now working with much bigger clients while providing the same attention to detail that allowed Marketing 24/7 to win this award.”

About Ruwena Healy:
Ruwena Healy founded Marketing 24/7 in 2005 after 18 years of experience working in banking and marketing professional services firms. Healy’s business awards for the two-year campaign of Business Makeover Birmingham include the 2010 PR News PR Platinum Award, a Clarion Award from The Association of Women in Communications, a Platinum Award from Hermes Creative Awards, and she has been a three-time Finalist in The Stevie Awards for Women In Business. Healy holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida and a master’s degree from Florida State University. She is a member of numerous professional organizations.

About Marketing 24/7:
In 2012, Marketing 24/7, Inc. celebrates its 7th anniversary of providing professionals with marketing and business ‎development solutions. Chief Executive Officer Ruwena Healy founded the firm with the mission of providing ‎high-level marketing and business development consulting, marketing plan development and execution, ‎and strategic planning services to companies, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Marketing 24/7 offers ‎expertise in personal branding and company branding, and in improving marketing and business ‎development effectiveness for the purpose of increasing revenues and profits. For more information, visit

Topics: business awards, marketing awards, American business awards, stevie award, business award communications awards, Marketing 24/7, Ruwena Healy, marketing award, communications award