Time to Take a Step Back
This has been a busy month for me here at Red Sage. With the year starting to wind down, I am now planning the marketing activities for 2014 for several of our customers. The customers and I are looking back over this year’s activities and figuring out what worked and what did not turn out as well as hoped. We’re brainstorming new ideas and seeking out new opportunities. Most importantly, we’re taking a moment to take a step back and look at their companies.
To help you wrap up the year and get started on your planning for 2014, I wanted to share some of the things our customers and I are looking at this month:
Are we the same company we were 12 months ago?
For most companies, this answer is likely going to be yes, but not always. There are usually small changes over a year and sometimes pretty major ones. We recently started working with a company whose product line had expanded beyond their company name. That’s a pretty big change.
Take some time to look at your products, services, goals, mission, staff, customers, and industry. Are your marketing efforts still working to reach your audience? Are your marketing messages still saying the right things? You certainly don’t want to waste years of marketing simply by not having a fresh understanding of who you are as a company.
What went great last year and what was a bust?
Our customers work with tight marketing budgets, so there are always tough decisions made as to how to spend the dollars. We always have good reasoning behind the choices we make, but there are usually a few surprises. Some things go much better than anticipated and others just don’t pan out the way they should have.
Evaluating the success of your marketing should be an ongoing process, but it is helpful to look at everything as a whole at the end of the year. It will help you decide what types of marketing activities are producing the best results, making it easier to decide what makes it into the plan for the next year.
There have been very few times when I have not found at least one new opportunity to consider for a customer’s plan. The world is a fast changing place, so there are always new ideas, ways of doing things, and tools to use. If you miss this step, you may find yourself outdated pretty quickly.
Take a small amount of time to look at your competitors – where are they; what are they doing; what are they saying? Check out top news sites and associations for your industry – what is trending right now and are there any threats? Then, look around you outside of your industry for inspiration. You never know what will spark great ideas for you.
What do we want to accomplish this year?
In a recent keynote address at the Women in Business luncheon, Vonda White spoke about the importance of having goals and writing them down. I recommend that you put in writing a few goals that you want your marketing efforts to achieve. For instance, a 2% increase in online sales or four leads being generated from your website each month. Once you know what you want to accomplish, figure out how you are going to determine whether you accomplished it or not. This step is just as important as picking out the goals themselves.
Now that you are armed with the questions to ask yourself, I encourage you to take some time this fall to step back, regroup, and get ready for 2014.