Look Forward By Looking Back

Although there are very few down times in the world of marketing, the holiday season is one where marketers can at least come up for air.  Most of your programs are in market and hopefully reaping the rewards of your hard work.  You muse about next year while are preparing for holiday parties while the sales and finance departments are finishing up year end and preparing for next year with preliminary budgets and forecasts.  The worst thing you can do is be behind the curve and have them dictating terms to you when you show up for the new year.

Now is the time to start thinking about what next year's marketing plan should look like by looking back at the past year.  Here are a few critical areas to review:

  • Goals - how did you do in meeting goals for the prior year?  If you've hit them all out of the park, make sure to be loud and proud of your accomplishments as this gives you a great platform to get more.  If you haven't, be prepared to discuss why and what you learned that will make you better next year.
  • Budget - how much have your spent?  If you're over budget be ready to talk to the bean counters about why and have justification for it.  If you're under budget, be ready to talk about that too since if they think you can get more done with less that money will go away.  Defending your dollars is one of the critical areas that can make or break marketing results next year and into the future.
  • ROI - what value has marketing brought to the organization, both in quantitative and qualitative outcomes?  The quantitative measurements are becoming increasingly important, so if you don't have an idea of what marketing is contributing to the revenue line you should figure that out and fast.  What worked, what didn't and what are you going to change to provide a positive ROI separates the great marketers from the average ones.
  • People - how are your team members performing?  Reviews are probably right around the corner in the new year, so how are your people stacking up?  If you need more people to get things done you need to make sure finance and accounting are preparing for that in their forecasts.  It's also a good time to do a quick mental review of each person on your team to determine if you need to make any changes.
  • Ideas - what are some of the strategies and tactics that came up in the previous year that you didn't get to due to time, budget, or other constraints.  Now is a good time to bring those ideas back up and see if there's still any merit in considering them.  Again, it all comes back to budget and new ideas may need new line items to make sure they get funded.

Having well thought out answers and plans for all these areas will put you in a great position with your counterparts in other departments and give you a chance to be proactive about what you need to be successful in the coming year.