Tis the season to be … err … planning—fa, la, la, la, lah. OK, so nobody is going to write a festive carol about opening spreadsheets, meeting with finance, reviewing what worked or didn’t from the past 12 months and creating a marketing strategy for the year ahead. But there’s still a lot to love about annual planning.
Sure, it’s a hassle, especially when you’re barreling down the home stretch at breakneck speed to complete this year’s marketing programs. But when you have clear company goals to align to, planning is your chance to carefully craft your story and perfectly align your resources toward telling that tale with maximum impact.
Like most marketers, you may not be granted more money next year in your marketing budget so here are three secrets to get more from what you are able to invest.
1. Place bigger bets
One temptation is to spread your marketing budget thinly across a wide range of programs, like a safety net. While this approach allows you to test lots of things, it limits the upside gains from any one program and stretches your team. Your team also isn’t able to devote the needed time to get the most out of any one activity.
The secret is to identify a few top activities to which you’ll devote most of your resources. Then clearly communicate these big bets and how they are aligned to deliver against your company goals—this will help your team retain focus when the inevitable new ideas are thrown your way.
2. Improve efficiencies in creative development
Your analytics and automation tools will help deliver cost-effective results from your content marketing. Just make sure it isn’t being bottlenecked by slow delivery of creative content.
Investing to improve your creative collaboration process will allow your team to:
• Do more creative testing
• Personalize content for more segments for improved results
• Repurpose existing content to reach your segments in more ways
3. Focus on the right analytics
Find how to best measure your content and programs and drive the most important business metrics, generally, sales and revenue.
The better you’re able to tie your work to the top line goals, the more likely you are to see a bigger budget next year.
Focus on accurately measuring the drivers that will help you make clear, actionable decisions. Just because you can measure something doesn’t mean it’s useful.
And stay close to your sales team, learn what content they use successfully or would like to test. Having a strong business partnership with the sales team is just smart marketing.
There are lots of things to love about planning. It’s the one time of year when everything is ordered, aligned and destined for success! Take these secrets into your planning process and, hey, you may even enjoy it.
Deborah Holstein is the vice president, marketing for Hightail, Inc.