Black Friday and Cyber Monday are now in your rearview mirror and if you’re like many, you’ve now focused your attention toward Santa sliding down your chimney at the end of the month. Well, in the midst of all of the holiday hustle and bustle, ensure you don’t let one important item slip through – your 2018 strategic marketing plan says Craig Catley, managing director, Strategyblocks.
While many of us may feel a bit like Ebenezer Scrooge at this time of the year – dreading the annual marketing plan due to its time-intensiveness during year-end general madness – thankfully, it doesn’t have to be that way. Pulling together your plan at this time of the year is actually more ideal while your achievements and challenges of the past year are still fresh in your mind.
As 2017 comes to a close, gift yourself and your employees structure direction and clarity for next year. Now is the time to package up your strategic plan and put your systems in place for the 2018 calendar year. Think beyond the usual laundry list of initiatives (e.g., campaigns, projects, etc.) and more about how you can chart a course for your employees and organisation, which clearly articulates a sustainable and successful plan in the year to come.
Make Your Wish List and Check it Twice
With less than a month left in the calendar year now is the time to take your own holiday inventory – review what worked/didn’t work over the course of the year – and devise your wish list for the year ahead.
However, don’t do this alone. Hold forums with your team and encourage candid conversations. Take time to discuss issues that negatively impacted your activities and results, but avoid blame shifting. Refer to this year’s strategic marketing plan and determine if your tactics aligned with your goals established for this year. For example, what was achieved as it relates to brand recognition, lead gen and sales figures? Which marketing activities were effective/ineffective? Did you hit your target market or should you switch up your marketing tactics? If not, reassess the reasons why.
In planning for 2018 hold company-wide brainstorms to unleash new ideas that can help the company achieve its goals through marketing initiatives. Streamline the ideas by focusing on one overarching initiative and a few other small initiatives that tie back to your vision. In doing so you’re ensuring everyone is a stakeholder in the company’s growth and understands the organisation’s shared vision.
12 Budgets Busted…11 Product Recalls…10 Unhappy Customers
While most of us might think overeating and overspending are risky behaviors during the holidays, for businesses the largest risk is not thinking back to the threats of yesteryear and how best to manage them in the year ahead.
Review the largest threats to your organisation over the last 12 months. In which areas of the company did they attack? Was it a reputational risk in which a product recall went awry over social media and ultimately impacted your brand’s reputation? Regardless of the threat understand that it’s not a one-time fix and must be a continual process in which everyone stays involved by monitoring and mitigating risks across all business units and departments in real-time.
In the New Year set a framework for collaboration across the executive suite in which the decision-making process to address risks is clear and quick, while minimizing near-term disruption across the company – both internally and externally. In an age in which technology, such as social media, has opened up a new channel of communication between customers and companies having a unified team is table stakes when it comes to acquiring, retaining and serving customers.
Start the New Year Off Right
2 January 2018 will be here before you know it. In preparation think about how you will implement your marketing strategy as well as track metrics the first day you and the rest of the company return from the holiday.
Refer to your business map and the agreed-upon shared vision for the year. Look at the beginning and the end. Examine your boundaries and points of interest to determine where the marketing opportunities are for your team. Ensure that you are providing them with the right tools and processes to be successful. For example, do you have the right leaders and reasonable timelines in place? Do you have the right communication protocols in place to enable collaboration across the board?
Understandably you will likely have a few missteps along the way, but with the appropriate resources and alignment across the business, you’ll come out ahead. Remember to be flexible in this day and age – today’s changing business environment demands that companies be opportunistic with marketing initiatives. Lastly, know that like Ebenezer, you and your organisation can use this opportunity as one to awaken your marketing strategy in the year to come.