Drive Your Marketing With This Year-End Marketing Review Guide
2019 may be coming to a close, but it’s never too late to begin planning your marketing and branding for the new year. Giving your company the gift of time to focus on the state of your marketing approach will help you start 2020 on a positive note.
A year-end marketing review doesn’t have to be complicated, but it does need to be thorough enough to uncover areas where you are successful and where you need to invest your company’s time and energy to improve results in the new year.
Let’s review a few foundational elements to focus on that will jumpstart your year-end marketing review, then later, we’ll offer a worksheet your team can use for a deeper dive.
First Things First
Your marketing budget can become one of your biggest obstacles if you don’t get it right. The best place to start is a review of your current year budget, looking at where you got the biggest bang for your investment, where investments didn’t pay off, and strategies you may have put off because of a lack of funds. If you are looking for ways to increase your budget, now is the time to seek ways to justify increased spending or new tactics to pursue. Like it or not, having an appropriately sized budget will dictate the range of marketing activities you can consider.
It’s essential to stay up to date on what your competitors have been doing in the last year. As your industry changes, how have your competitors adapted? Comparing your company’s response and tactics compared to your competitors offers a way of comparing which approaches were more successful. A year-end review of your competitors’ websites, social media, and marketing content often can uncover new marketing strategies to consider for next year.
Products and Services
A great many things can change in your industry and the markets you serve. Major shifts can have an impact on the desirability of your products and services. Questions to ask include:
- Are my products and services still relevant?
- How can I increase their performance?
- Are there industry trends we can take advantage of by modifying a product or service?
- Are there product or service advantages we haven’t highlighted?
Now is the time to critically look at each marketing activity and try to assign the business value delivered by each. Looking at website performance, social media, paid media, events, content marketing, and sponsorships are the main elements of most marketing plans. Taking a hard look at each media type allows you to see where marketing investments are paying off and where to reassign additional dollars.
When you can accomplish marketing goals with internal staff, the better off you are. Evaluating current marketing team time, effort, and success will help to have a clear idea if your team is hitting their goals, struggling with too many tasks, or working in areas where their skill and knowledge are stretched a bit too far. Knowing the limits of your team points to areas where outside support from marketing specialists or agencies could help your company achieve greater success.
Marketing is designed to build brand reputation within your industry. But, driving marketing leads that enable sales to reach their objectives is what helps grow company revenues. Finding the right balance between brand building and building leads is what makes an effective marketing plan. Are your current marketing initiatives focused on sales support, lead generation, event-driven meetings, and inbound sales calls? How well does your marketing team communicate with sales to understand their needs, the needs of prospects, and what messages are resonating helps marketing and sales teams to become more productive.
Understanding the unique qualities your company owns in your industry is key. Finding what you do that is “best, first or only” regarding your products, services, or customer support helps your marketing messages work harder. In commodity or price-driven segments, identifying unique and ownable positions on customer service and after the sale support often makes the difference. Standing out in a crowded market means understanding the unique qualities you own to help your marketing message stand out against larger companies or those with larger marketing budgets.
Mapping out events, speaking engagements, new product deadlines, and customer renewals all help focus where marketing dollars and efforts should be allocated. Creating a company priority spreadsheet helps organize where your budget needs to be spent and identifies potential time crunches for staff with overlapping projects. A spreadsheet can also reveal open timeslots where customer and prospect communication can be scheduled to keep them engaged and moving down the sales funnel.
Using the slower end of year period to organize your marketing priorities gets your team focused on knowing what to adjust and open to new ideas and approaches to introduce in the new year. Take the next step in your year-end marketing review by downloading our high impact marketing planning guide. Here’s to your success in the new year!