We are just a few weeks from the end of the year. This is an important time for marketers to take a look at the business and reflect on how things have gone.
Business leaders don’t devote much time to looking back. There is constant pressure to update the plan and execute, so people tend to work on the future.
This is a missed opportunity.
By studying the year gone by, we can assess what happened. This sets the stage for the future. If you don’t have a good sense for what has happened, it is difficult to create a great plan going forward. All too often last year’s marketing plan looks a lot like this year’s plan. One reason for this is that the manager didn’t really figure out what worked and what didn’t. As a result, if an idea seemed promising last year, it probably still seems promising this year.
This is the perfect week for reflection. People are in the office; Christmas is still more than a week away. Vacation awaits but it isn’t here yet. Things are quiet; this isn’t a big week for serious meetings. Some people will be ducking out to attend a school concert or end of year show. With time and little pressure, it is a good moment to look at the year gone by.
You should ask yourself three simple questions.
First, how did things go? Go back to the marketing plan you wrote at the start of the year. I’m assuming you have one. If you don’t, then that is one thing you might want to consider when answering question three. Did you execute the plan and achieve your goals? Or did you fall short? It is important to answer the question honestly; this isn’t a time to blame outside factors or put a positive spin on things.
Second, what worked? I’m confident that some of the things you did this year went well, even if the business didn’t deliver great results overall. Think about using some analysis to assess various initiatives and tactics. Once you’ve identified something that worked, consider why it worked. Did you tap into a customer insight? Did the program provide an unexpected lift? Why?
Third, what didn’t go so well? People don’t like asking this question. There is a tendency to gloss over it, especially if overall results were positive. But this is perhaps the most important question to consider because it has a significant impact on next year’s plan.
These three questions set up the plan for next year: you want to build on what worked, change what didn’t and set realistic goals that reflect your momentum.