When was the last time you looked at your current annual marketing plan?
The week after it was disseminated?
That’s what I thought. In fact, that’s what most of us do.
To glean the full value of your plan, pull it out mid-year and review where you are. There’s more to it than just running down a checklist of accomplishments or breakdowns. You need to assess that what you laid out at last October's marketing meeting still works this July or August.
Include your entire team. They will have important feedback that may not filter up to you. For example, you may have thought a project went smoothly, but under the surface your staff was scrambling.
Create a safe zone where difficulties can be shared. Leave out constructive advice for the moment; focus on gathering the data you need. Leave your feedback for one-on-ones and your annual reviews. Keep your eye on global issues instead of personnel missteps.
Separate the analysis of projects and campaigns from the budgeting process. No one wants to leave money on the table, and everyone wants to grow their budget annually. Cost is only one factor of a campaign, but it can overwhelm a more fundamental analysis of success.
Identify whether you've met your objectives. Note that I said objectives, and not projects. Projects can be successful but not meet core objectives. It’s easy to fall into a workplace trance while crossing projects, events, and to-dos off a list, especially with so many demands on your time and department. The objective can be subsumed by demands, and meeting those demands gives the illusion that we have accomplished what's important instead of what’s right in front of us. Steer the ship back on course if the objectives have fallen by the wayside.
It's a good idea to review with a trusted outsider what’s working, what’s not, and most importantly, why. Your mid-year marketing analysis needs to go farther than what has and hasn’t been successful. Sometimes this can be hard to tease out, in part because you and your team are so close to the process. Why retain an outside consultant? Because successfully reviewing your internal processes is very difficult without the objective perspective of someone outside your organization. It’s what I learned early in my journalism and literary career: even the best writers need editors, no matter how good they are.