As we find the year coming to a quick close, many business owners may be finding themselves scrambling to complete the goals they had set for Q4/16. Perhaps they’re even still trying to catch up to complete goals from Q3.
This can be stressful if you’re one of the ones whose plans haven’t quite gotten to where you had wanted them to be. Why does this happen, exactly? Why can it feel so difficult to reach the marketing goals that were projected?
It can be a variety of things: poor planning, repeating mistakes, not doing proper marketing research, not being held accountable. One of the biggest mistakes in planning for the business year is not properly prioritizing marketing projects.
But marketing can be tricky. There are lots of things to understand that factor into when and how you achieve them. For example, which types of digital marketing works best, and at what times of the year? How long do certain types of campaigns usually take?
These are things to consider when planning out your marketing strategy for 2017. And since Q1/17 is practically here, this is definitely the time to be thinking about it.
The best way to accomplish your marketing goals is to spread them over the four quarters in order to achieve everything you want. By planning to utilize the entire year and sticking to a plan, you won’t procrastinate or “cram” everything into Q4.
Before Getting Started
First of all, decide what your top five priorities are for each quarter. Consider how you will achieve these priorities, and what your opportunities and resources may be for each.
Designate an employee or team to be responsible for each goal as well, in order for everyone to remain accountable and for progress to be measured.
So what’s the best way to spend time to prioritize marketing projects over the quarters?
What Should I Accomplish in Q1?
Business owners know that there’s a steep contrast between Q1 and Q4. The year always begins slow, then zooms into alarming roller coaster speed toward the end.
Q1 holds a lot of potential for what the year can bring to your business, but first it’s a good idea to see where you are. This is why it’s important to go over analytics and pull reports for your year-over-year metrics so you can see growth and decline of the previous years. Check out your revenue goals and the progress you currently have measured. Once you see where you’re at, that will help you to develop marketing ideas, since you’ll see what’s already been working.
Marketing options can be strategies for social media, giveaways, email campaigning, testimonials, reviews, loyalty programs and special offers, or plenty of other types of marketing. Figure out what you’d like to do, and pinpoint at what time during the year your marketing choices will be most effective. For instance, if you have an ice cream shop or sell water sports gear, you might want to focus most of your marketing over the summer months—Q3—but if you have a gift shop of collectibles, you might want to focus your marketing budget to be used more during the holidays, Q4.
Or, if you decide on certain types of marketing, you may need to plant the seeds early on in Q1. For instance, if you’ve decided on an SEO-based marketing campaign, some SEO can take anywhere from 4-6 months to kick in. Even if it’s as simple as an old-school physical billboard in the middle of town that you want, do your research and find out how long that process may take.
Hammer down your marketing budget, and find a good program or method to watch your daily key marketing numbers. At the end of Q1, review your status and see if you’re on track with your goals so far.
Q2: Review, Revise, Motivate, and Measure
Q2 can feel “slumpy” because it lacks excitement of Q1 and the sense of urgency of Q4. However, Q2 is a key opportunity to review, revise, and plan for what else the year may bring. It’s a quarter that should be filled with meetings, charts, enforcing accountability, and measuring.
Now that a full quarter has gone by, take a look at your initial projections for Q1 and review them. Are they lining up with what’s been accomplished? If not, why?
Don’t focus only on what went right. The areas that weren’t successful are just as important, if not more so. They need to be evaluated so that they can be avoided next time. Identify the obstacles or problems, and focus on tackling them.
Ask yourself what goals were achieved, and how. Which ones should carry over into the next quarter? How will the strategy need to be adjusted?
Make a list of everything your company needs to work together to accomplish. Go over the list and organize these objectives as first, second, or third priorities, then assign each priority to a specific person or team in your organization. That person or team is responsible for accomplishing that task or objective by the end of the next quarter, so have weekly one-on-one meetings with them, and create weekly breakdowns of how their goals will be achieved. Then track their progress. This will establish accountability and remind everyone what they’re working toward. It’s vital that all your team members are aware of the company’s goals and motivated to implement them.
There should be daily social media monitoring and maintaining; weekly blogging and analytics reviewing; monthly newsletter (by email is most effective), as well as monthly reporting and continued goal creation.
If you’ve implemented marketing in Q1 (such as the SEO or billboard examples), Q2 is THE time to check in on what’s happening with them. Consult your SEO engineers and ask how it’s going, or talk to the people responsible for the billboard to make sure they’re on track.
Q3: How to Fight “Summer Brain”
Q3 tends to get sticky because so many employees take vacations during the summer months, and work can fall behind. That’s why it’s very important to encourage them to prioritize before they go away in order to maintain momentum during Q3. This is especially important for business owners to do themselves.
“Summer brain” can seem harmless, but can cause serious problems if not controlled.
Start by looking at your most urgent marketing goals and tasks for Q3. Check out who is responsible for those goals, and discuss with them what needs to happen with this project between now and the end of the year, and how that could be affected by vacations or holiday time off. Together, lay out what going forward will look like.
Will they be able to check/answer email while on vacation? Are they willing to? If not, how might that affect the marketing project? What are the solutions?
And, as with each quarter, it’s critical to be checking reports and metrics, having weekly meetings to stay on top of things, and following up with any outsourced employees.
What Should be Saved for Q4?
If you’ve been following this plan, your Q4 shouldn’t be too crazy. As the holidays months arrive, take a look at what your company still needs to do to meet its marketing goals before the new year. You need to know what you’ve accomplished so far in order to see what you still need to complete.
Review the previous year’s marketing goals, and determine if all of them are still relevant. What is still essential to be completed before the new year? This will give you a good idea of what you can do before the holidays set in.
Maintain your marketing budget! Don’t lose your head during the holidays. Re-examine the budget, plan for the upcoming year, and revise operational and sales goals. Check out the budgets of each of your departments, and see if there’s anywhere where you can use money to feed into any essential end-of-year projects (such as hiring additional employees if need be).
Continue with your weekly employee meetings, and as with all your meetings, you should look at what has produced strong reactions or results—both positive and negative. In Q4, talk about year-to-date high and low points with the entire company. Make sure each employee and team knows what the goals mean personally to them. Generate excitement about the company’s bigger picture. Celebrate successes to show employees that their work is valued. Emphasize the impact of each individual contribution.
We want your business to have a stress-free 2017 with successful marketing results. Don’t miss any advice, tips, or tricks on social and marketing strategy from us. Check out the Marqana blog weekly!