If you’re like me, you’re in the sweet spot of a summer lull. Summer days can often be halcyon for marketers. There’s a bit more space to breathe, with campaigns behind us or wrapping up. It’s a great time to clean your desk, sort those files, or, in my case, clean my computer desktop. Before you get too used to a break in the action, however, consider how you can get a leg up on your next planning cycle.
By Edith Bullard, Senior Vice President, Marketing & PR, PCI.
Rev Up Your Marketing Plan During the Dog Days of Summer
While it may not be quite time to put pen to paper, here are a few ways to prepare for your planning season:
Evaluate the past year. What worked? What didn’t work? What were your victories and challenges? Assessing the quality of your campaigns—including whether you set and met the right goals —can be a great way to benchmark upcoming campaigns. Don’t be afraid to ditch things that didn’t work and develop new strategies to boost the things that did.
Get a little feedback. Talk to your customers, clients, members, or stakeholders. Whether through informal conversations, more structured focus groups, or online surveys, getting direct feedback can help you identify market trends, set priorities and goals, test messaging, or identify audience needs—all essential to the planning process.
Explore marketing innovations. Is there a new marketing platform that could better reach your target audience? Are there new tools to help you measure impact, deliver quality content, or effectively identify business leads? Have your colleagues been talking about a new vendor you’ve been meaning to check out? Now is a perfect time to schedule that visit. These explorations can yield new approaches to integrate into your marketing plan.
Think goals, objectives, and priorities. You want your marketing plan to help your organization reach its goals. This is a good time to re-evaluate your organization’s strategic plan and recent leadership direction to reconfirm the objectives and priorities most important to your organization. Knowing what’s important to your organization helps focus your efforts and ensure your plan will have direct and valuable impact.
Don’t forget your competitors. Think about the top two or three organizations that compete for your target audience. Review their websites, social media, and advertising to see what they’re talking about and how they’re positioning their products or services. If you have stakeholders that use a competitor, ask them for a frank assessment. This helps you proactively stay ahead of the market.
Think. Don’t do. When you’re in the midst of that big campaign, or putting out one fire after another, how often do you find yourself saying, “I don’t even have time to think.” I sometimes find myself longing to be more strategic, but I just can’t find the time. Summer can provide that opportunity. Read articles, attend a webinar or two, and talk to your colleagues—anything could spark an idea! Giving yourself time and space to think may provide the best jump-start to a great marketing plan.
Having a marketing plan that guides your efforts is essential, but taking the time to preplan may be even more important. The dog days of summer may be the perfect time.