’Tis the Season…to Be Planning

— December 22, 2017

I don’t know about you, but I’m completely in the spirit of the season—the planning season, that is. At the end of the year, it’s great to look back on all of our successes, but it can be even more exciting to turn toward what’s ahead. Hopefully, you’ve already started planning for 2018, and now you’re refining strategies, messages, plans and tactics.

If you’re still in the early planning stages: STOP! Read no further. Because what I have for you is a list of challenging questions to ask yourself once you have a tentative plan in place. So if you’re ready, check out these five things to ask as you complete your marketing plan to ensure you’re on the right track as you enter the new year.

  1. Have I thought about the entire demand unit? Are you familiar with the new SiriusDecisions Demand Unit Waterfall™? Have you thought about experimenting with it? Switching completely over?

    Planning gives us the opportunity to bring in new methods of thinking and organizing our processes. Did your strategy and plan take some new basics into consideration? If yes, great! Make sure they made it all the way down the plan. If no, take a step back and ask yourself if a different perspective could yield some valuable insights into how to move forward with more impact.

  2. When and where can I change things?Having a strong North Star is critical to any plan’s success. But at a tactical level, you need to ensure you have some flexibility. Are there any big projects that will affect other projects? What happens if they are delayed or can’t be done? What if something doesn’t yield results? Can you add or subtract items from the plan?
    You can’t plan for the unknown, but you can plan on unknowns always popping up. Taking some time early on to identify risks and items that may change will ease stress if and when they do occur.
  3. Have I thought about new competitors?We always have our eye on the standard competition. But new, nontraditional competitors are entering the market all the time. How do you track these? How would you modify your plans to include them? Think about these now to help minimize surprises during the year.
  4. What am I testing and learning this year?I’m a big proponent of constantly learning—even with marketing campaigns. Have you worked new tactics, programs and/or optimization into your marketing plan? What does success look like?

    Whether you’re working on a large test project or small optimizations, make sure new information is accounted for in your plan, and that the team is up to speed on both what they’re learning and how to implement it. An easy example of why this is important: If you learn questions always work in subject lines but don’t create a new email campaign that uses them, what’s the point?

  5. Is it human?We’re business-to-business marketers, but guess who makes decisions about, and spends money for, those businesses? PEOPLE. Does your marketing plan focus on human behaviors and your audience’s struggles? Or is it focused on you, you, you?

    Being conscious of your audience and developing engaging creative will boost results. Challenge yourself on this to ensure your plan will yield maximum benefits.

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