Well, October is here and Fall is officially upon us. You know what this means – the holidays are quickly approaching as is the end of the year. Yep, I said it; 2014 is coming to a close and 2015 will be here before we know it. It seems like October is that magical month when businesses take a long hard look at what they’ve accomplished throughout the year, what they can wrap up in the last few months and begin planning for the new year. I recently wrote a post about the 2 Must-Haves for Every Online Marketing Plan in 2015 and I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on that post. So today I wanted to follow that up by sharing with you some of the questions that every business should be considering this year as it relates to a marketing strategy.
What Are Our Big Wins So Far This Year?
Think about the first 9 months. What are the 3-4 big wins that stand out to you? Maybe it’s a big deal that you closed or a social media marketing campaign that was very well received. What did you accomplish that helped you or your business move closer to where you want to be? Whatever it was, take a moment to think about why it was successful. All too often, we get caught up in the day-to-day stuff and forget to take a step back to evaluate things. And I’ve got news for you, if you don’t get this done in October there’s no way it’s happening in November or December. We all know how crazy that time of the year can get, so take the time to search for those golden nuggets NOW and learn from them.
Where Did We Come Up Short?
No doubt, there will be some areas over your overall marketing plan or business strategy where you’ve fallen a bit short. It’s much easier and more beneficial to identify those things now rather than at the end of the year. Let me cover that again, think about and begin dealing with your shortcomings NOW rather than at the end of the year. Sometimes we get too caught up in moving forward forward forward, that we forget to look back at things we might be able to easily fix now. Maybe earlier in the year you were working on a website redesign and rushed things a bit when it came to the content development convincing yourself you’d come back to it later in the year. Well, now’s that time. Or perhaps you were thinking about getting some commercial photography work done for your new product line to update your online catalog, but just didn’t get around to it. It’s important to identify these things now, and I will tell you why on my next point.
How Will You Make the Most of the Next 3 Months?
After taking a step back to look at your big wins and places where you fell short, think about how these things fit in with what’s left of your 2014 marketing plan. What can you learn from these successes and setbacks so far to make the most of where you’re going next? Your answers to these questions my change the plan moving forward. Perhaps your original marketing budget didn’t have enough built in for social media marketing or hadn’t taken into consideration the benefits you might get from producing an online video to follow up with the one you rolled out in quarter 2 that was so successful. While it’s always important to stay on budget, where you allocate that budget needs to always be open for review and discussion especially this late into the year. And I’ll tell you one thing – doing things the same way you have always done them in the past is a recipe for getting left in the dust of your competition. In other words, just because you spent X on a TV commercial or radio ad last year around the holidays and included that same budget this year doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest.
What’s The Plan for 2015?
Now that you’ve taken some time to look at the first 3/4 of the year and make sure you’re on the right track for the last quarter, it’s time to turn your attention to next year. The good news is that by answering the first 3 questions, it will make building out your 2015 marketing strategy much easier. Start by visualizing where you want your business to be at the beginning of the new year. Let’s say the New Year starts off with a bang and everything is going great – what does that picture look like for your company? Now, ask yourself that same thing about the end of the year next year. Next it’s time to work backwards – what do you need to do to connect the dots from the most successful year beginning to the most successful year end? Identify the mini-goals that need to be achieved along the way so you have nice, bite-sized chunks to tackle one at a time. If you’re in the right business, answering these questions is sure to get you excited for new year. After all, there’s no reason why it can’t be your best yet.
Answer These Questions NOW
I am going to wrap things up by echoing what I said earlier. NOW is the time to answer these questions. I say this for 3 simple reasons:
1. It’s not too late to get back on track even if 2014 isn’t finishing the way you had hoped.
2. It’s never too early to start planning for the new year.
3. End of year/holiday craziness will soon ensue.