The marketing year has once again sped into the annual post-Thanksgiving b-l-u-r. Now, every business leader needs to thoughtfully prepare next year’s plan. But all the things you need to do to execute today’s activity, close out the year, AND deliver a budget and plan for next year may leave 2024 getting short shrift – just like last year, the year before, and the year before that...
Are you ready to make next year less like “same $%@!, different day”? It’s time to stop this “definition of insanity” death spiral. Here’s how to create a plan that does more than provide more of the same.
Use 2023’s data and insights for actionable lessons learned. I’ve written before that a marketing plan
shouldn’t be just a “one-off.” Instead, it should feel more like an episode of a continuing story. But how can you move to a new chapter if
your characters don’t learn from the last one, and grow and progress?
Ensure you’re digging into data from the year’s efforts to derive useful and actionable insights. Take stock of what worked well, and where your efforts were less effective -- and seek to understand why.
Purposefully identify core objectives. Naturally, any business leader wants to drive growth. But just saying your goal is growth isn’t helpful. Instead, ask yourself why you’re not growing as fast as you want to be. What are the hurdles getting in the way? Once you have broken this down, you can then identify the aspects of growth that you believe will most contribute to success, e.g., increasing conversion rate, driving up customer value, or growing penetration or leads.
And fight the urge to list several, disparate objectives, unless you can afford plans to address each. For example, a single plan would be hard-pressed to appropriately address the objectives of growing penetration AND increasing loyalty -- so don’t even try.
Document your customers’ challenges, needs, and journeys. No company ever had too much customer understanding – that’s foundational for operating and growing any business. But having that understanding isn’t enough. It must be distilled into usable tools for the organization, like Personas and Customer Journeys. These tools help the broad team speak the same language and work off the same page (literally).
And, once you have them, your planning will become more intentional and impactful. If you don’t feel like you know your customer well enough to create these tools, make that a priority for your 2024 plan.
Choose your tactics based on your goals and your customers -- not the other way around. Too often, marketing plans list the tactics they’re using without clarity around why. Instead, let your objectives and your knowledge of your customer journey drive selection of tactics -- and be ruthless about including only those that fit them well.
Bake strategic rigor into your execution to ensure success. Make sure you brief your projects appropriately, stating goals, customer insights and KPIs. Create documented strategies for things like social media. If it’s not documented, then there is no strategy.
Next year's marketing plan should be more than just “rinse & repeat,” so ensure you approach it purposefully. Because before you know it, it’s going to be December 2024 -- and you don’t want to say once again “Wait until next year…”