Here’s how marketers get motivated for the new year




  • Analyze your numbers, goals, strategies and tactics because it’s important to document why you succeeded or failed in order to find improvements in 2019.

    Welcome back! The holiday crush is over, and 2018 is behind us. You’re at your desk, the year is less than a month old, and I know what you’re thinking.

    “How am I gonna do this again?”

    I hear you. You’re exhausted from the holiday season and from knocking yourself out to meet your 2018 goals.

    And, if you fell short, now you’re struggling to explain what happened.

    Either way, motivation to gear up and get back into the fray can be hard to come by. It’s certainly hard to communicate through one column from me here in Marketing Land. But I’ve been there, and I have some tips to think about as you sit at your desk and start reorganizing and thinking about the year ahead.

    The key to motivation is to get excited about what’s coming down the road. It’s hard to do that when you just came down off the mountain of last year’s excitement. One place to start is to think about the technology, processes or people that helped you succeed or could move you closer to your next goal if you fell short last year.

    Whether we’re talking about artificial intelligence, machine learning, neuro-linguistic programming, flashing countdown clocks or dynamic content – it all boggles the mind. But, one thing we can say about email: It’s as vibrant as it has ever been.

    As I have written frequently, finding the right technology can be overwhelming. This can contribute to your lack of motivation. You wonder, “Did I make my numbers because I chose the right technology? Did I miss my numbers because I chose poorly?”

    All this second-guessing is just so much spinning of your wheels. It consumes all your mental energy, but it doesn’t get you anywhere. So, here are questions you should ask yourself instead to help you find that way forward that will motivate you into creating a sound, workable plan for 2019:

    1. Why did you succeed or fail?

    If you hit your number, your back is probably sore from everybody patting it. As long as you didn’t buy a list, I’ll pat your back, too. Yet even the most successful people will tell you that not everything worked. Everyone fails. So, be humble and learn how to improve.

    Didn’t make your nut after all the work you put in? Damn, that sucks. I’m sorry. I’ve been there. I’ve missed goals and had to think about how I was going to explain to my executives.

    Take a couple of days soon, while the past year’s activities are still fresh in your mind, and spend them analyzing your numbers, goals, strategies and tactics.

    Then, WRITE DOWN WHAT YOU LEARNED. Write down what you know and share your findings with your team. As I’ve said before, the proper documentation of testing is vital to the promulgation of a good program, and the same goes for your analysis of your successes and failures, too.

    Document why you succeeded or failed. This must be captured within days after you close out 2018. We get wrapped up in the day-to-day craziness of our work and personal lives, and it’s easy to forget why we succeeded or failed.

    Don’t fear failure. Failure is not bad. One of my mottoes is “fail fast.” Failure can hurt, but it teaches us what we need to fix or repeat.

    Seek out multiple perspectives for your report. Your view can be skewed, and your ego can get in the way. Ask around, and seek advice from your team members, your boss, your service providers and anyone else who had a hand in the process. Quote articles or case studies that resulted in success. Borrow idea equity from other smart people.

    Structure your report in a way that helps your team learn why you succeeded or failed, what to repeat and how your team can improve for 2019.

    2. Seek motivation from your postmortem

    If you did it right, your motivation will come from looking at your numbers and goals to hit this year and amending what you did last year. A good postmortem serves as a road map, helping you draw on your history to inform your future.

    The first half of your report should cover improving on what worked in the previous year. Even if you failed to reach your goals, you did something right. You need to capture those things that worked. Then, think of your strategies. What will help you accomplish your goals this year?

    You’re going to write a marketing plan for 2019. You don’t have to create something elaborate. Just put together a series of ideas that could become a game plan. You’re essentially acting like a coach going up against a stronger team and planning how you will beat it. Your advantage is that you know what their play cards look like, and you know what worked.

    3. Share it everywhere

    One of the ways to get motivated is to talk about your plans and goals with your coworkers and friends. After you finish your postmortem and create your plan, share it to get feedback, input and direction. If your plan includes a request for more budget, talk to your boss about how to get it.

    If I lack motivation, I find I can borrow it from people who have more of it. When you tell your story, people will get excited, and they’ll pass on that excitement to you.

    Sure, if you didn’t make your 2018 numbers, you’ll have to explain why. But explain the good things first, and then give the reasons why you missed. Conclude with what you learned and how you’ll use that to succeed this year.

    That simple act of sharing can motivate you to sit back down, dig in and get going.

    4. Wrapping up

    I’ve been in your shoes, on both the agency side and the client side for most of my 20 years in this business. I’ve been the unmotivated person digging deep to find the energy to go back out there and do it again. But I have found that energy every time. It’s always new, it’s always fun, and it’s always exciting. You just have to get yourself to that point.

    No matter what your business is, whether you’re in email, paid search, social media, account-based marketing, direct mail, print or broadcast,  you can take comfort in knowing everybody has to go through this kind of accounting. You will be the leader in your group if you can properly communicate your plans and find that motivation.

    I’m not going to lie you. It’s going to be a tough year. But, trust me. When you get to the other side this time next year, you’re going to look back and see how far you’ve come. And you can say, “I made it through this time, and I’m going to make it through again.”

    Happy New Year! Now get out there and make me proud.


    Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Marketing Land. Staff authors are listed here.


    About The Author

    Ryan Phelan brings almost two decades of worldwide online marketing and email experience. Ryan is a respected thought leader and nationally distinguished speaker with a history of experience from Adestra, Acxiom, BlueHornet, Sears Holdings, Responsys and infoUSA. In 2013 he was named one of the top 30 strategists in online marketing and is the Chairman Emeritus of the EEC Advisory Board and is a member of the Board of Directors for the Email Sender and Provider Collation (ESPC). Ryan is also involved many companies in the start-up space as an advisor, board member and investor.

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