No matter when your fiscal year starts, January is the perfect time to review your marketing plan and update your strategy. You can accomplish this by conducting a marketing audit of your efforts.
In an ideal world, you would take your team on a half-day offsite. But, if you are the sole marketer or simply don't have the bandwidth and resources, you can still conduct a thoughtful audit that will allow you to start fresh, and harness a renewed energy and sense of mission. This is also the perfect prep for upcoming budget requests.
Where to Start: Look Beyond ROI
Start with three buckets: what worked, what didn't and what resources you need to course-correct. Everyone harps on ROI, but let's be honest--there's more than one way to measure success.
Look for happy customers, such as a practice group leader who was pleased with the results you generated for her. Send out an internal survey to solicit feedback from the people who know the firm best. Start a "Good Things About Our Marketing Team" folder and stash away all messages of praise. Use these qualitative assessments as the basis for your review. These save time and provide specific feedback and shows your internal clients you care about the job you are doing and the results you are achieving.
Ditch the Haters: Adjust Expectations
What didn't work? That's probably pretty easy. Some campaigns flop, internally or externally, and in our feedback-driven world you will surely be told about it. Even if a campaign was successful, the "misery index" could mean it's not worth your time and effort.
Talk to your team to gauge the pain and then with the partner in charge of marketing. Know where to cut your losses. Some efforts fail through no fault of your own. Use it as a learning experience and move on to a new strategy. As famed marketer Scott Stratten says, "Don't try to win over the haters; you're not the jackass whisperer."
Course Correction: Improve Your Strategy
Be creative. This doesn't necessarily mean new campaigns, but new ways of doing them. Maybe award submissions are taxing your team. Perhaps hiring an intern as dedicated administrative support during award season or, if you have the budget, an outside vendor would free up staff to focus on higher ROI activities. It may even be worth taking budget from a separate line item to accomplish what the firm believes is important, allowing your team to concentrate on what you see as more productive and higher value work.
Pick one wish-list activity and commit to it. Maybe your web and collateral copy doesn't speak as well as it should to potential clients. Build in time and internal or external resources to create buyer personas and tailor your narrative to them. This requires thoughtful, high-level analysis but it's not particularly complicated. Management will be impressed you've adopted client-driven messaging.
The Bottom Line
Marketing is an iterative process. Sure, you only have one pot of money in a given year to accomplish what you need. But that doesn't mean your annual plan is static. Calendar benchmarks for projects and quarterly review. If you make changes, clearly communicate your rationale up and down the chain. This greatly increases your buy-in rate and decreases your pool of haters.
Good Luck Planning for the New Year!
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