Counteract the End of Year Doldrums with a Fresh Look at Your Marketing Horizons

If you’re a marketer working in a company that doesn’t support a big holiday rush in business, December can seem like a dead zone. Who wants to launch a new campaign or publish new content when your audience is focused on holiday parties, gift giving, and travel plans?

The more relaxed business environment leading up to the holidays might be the perfect time to challenge yourself to think creatively, evaluating new opportunities and creating a breakout work plan for 2016 that will have you running into the office with a spring in your step on that first Monday of the new year. Here are several steps to consider to support your end of year evaluation process.

1. Review the marketing tactics that won in 2015 and check out the predictions for 2016.

This is the time of year when every thought leader is providing a retrospective of the year and/or making their bets for 2016. Leverage these lists and articles to stimulate ideas for new approaches and tactics you might not have considered. These lists may also reinforce your commitment to key programs you’re already using but may want to expand. For example, CloudPeeps just reaffirmed the importance of email, and BuzzSumo summarized 23 winning content-focused tips from Inbound 2015.

2. Evaluate your marketing technology stack and schedule some demos.

These days, the MarTech universe is overwhelming, which may be a barrier to adopting anything. But don’t let the chaos dissuade you from employing the technologies that best support your strategy, needs, and business maturity. The ultimate cheat sheet provides a clear approach to understanding and evaluating some of the key marketing technologies for all businesses. Once you have your own tech short list, identify the top tools within each category of interest and schedule some demos to see them in action.

3. Coordinate with your sales team to create a collaborative technology plan.

Much as we all like to think “marketing is not sales,” more and more, our two functions need to work in concert to maximize business success. That couldn’t be more true when it comes to the sales stack, which has to play nice with the marketing stack, otherwise leads can be dropped somewhere along the way. (And isn’t Influitive a marketing solution anyway?) The line of demarcation is getting fuzzier and fuzzier, and honestly who cares where the line is if the key tech for your business is somewhere in the gray area. Get aligned and chart out some sensible investments for your company as a whole.

4. Revisit your personas and the buying process.

In the end, it’s all about customers — acquiring, converting and retaining them — so make sure you understand your target customers and their buying process. You may want to consider updating your personas if you don’t currently employ an evergreen process. If so, HubSpot has some super helpful templates and tips for generating and maintaining robust personas. And don’t forget the design of your customer experience — there’s a lot of discussion these days about making sure you account for the emotional elements of how your customers perceive their business relationship with your company and your brand. Make sure you understand all aspects of your customer, and if you don’t, think about gaining that insight as a key priority in 2016.

5. Consider creating a marketing experimentation schedule or plan.

If you haven’t yet been bitten by the agile marketing bug or drunk the Kool-Aid on growth hacking, you should at least familiarize yourself with these concepts and the value that they’re attributing to taking a higher velocity, incremental, frequent testing approach to building marketing programs and success. Maybe these techniques are too far from your current organization’s DNA, but it’s helpful to understand if there are elements you could use to increase the velocity of your current team or positively impact your results.

6. Think outside the box.

Are there totally new techniques or ideas that you’ve seen but didn’t think about rigorously because you initially thought they might be too untested or too difficult? Now’s the time to revisit the new or different just to make sure you aren’t leaving a valuable opportunity on the table. Perhaps the idea is a small one, like fielding a multi-channel quiz to drive lead capture or trying some humor in your content mix, or perhaps it’s a larger initiative like building a webapp for viral acquisition or launching your website in a few additional languages to take advantage of the growing trend towards globalization. Even a small step outside your comfort zone might yield bigger than expected results, so gather all the facts and determine what resources you’ll need to give your new idea a try.

Don’t get too distracted by the fun going on outside the office — remember to have some fun at work, too, learning, exploring, and charting a new course for the new year.

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