I’ll be honest. I have a love-hate relationship with the end-of-the-year noise around business and marketing planning.
On the one hand, it’s a natural moment to take a step back to look at what’s happened during the year and what your goals are for the next year.
But on the other hand, those moments should be happening throughout the year. We put so much pressure on January 1st to be different when we should actually be recalibrating all along.
A few years ago, in a moment of disdain for the New Year, I decided I would no longer set goals for myself. I was going to set guiding principles to help me filter out the year’s activity and make sure I’m doing what is important to me. (I’m a real rebel, I know…)🤪*
That being said, I do still set goals for our business. My business coach says I have to. 😂 However, I also developed some guiding principles/questions that I use as I set those goals. These have become a framework to know if I’m on track with my business and marketing goals.
- Marketing content
- Looking behind: Survey the emails and social media analytics. What content performed well? What didn’t?
- Looking ahead: Does the content that performed well align with where my business is headed? Do I care enough about what didn’t work to continue to use it?
- Business & sales goals
- Looking behind: Did we meet our business and sales goals? What service or product did we sell most? What was the most profitable?
- Looking ahead: Is my marketing supporting my sales activity? Are they moving in the same direction? Do I need to adjust my sales and marketing energy so the focus is on what we sell the most or what is most profitable?
- Marketing budget
- Looking behind: Where did we spend most of our marketing dollars? Do I see a direct connection with the results?
- Looking ahead: Do I need to re-allocate my budget to make sure my dollars are aligned with the results I want? If I want to grow my business, am I increasing my marketing budget accordingly?
- Trying new things
- Looking behind: What new strategy (for business or marketing) did I try this year? Did it work? Did it support my goals or distract us?
- Looking ahead: Do I want to use that strategy again this year? What other new thing might I want to try this year? What will it take to make that happen?
Like I said, I do use these for my year-end planing, but I use these throughout the year as well. Whenever we need to recalibrate a little, we start looking through these questions so we know what our next steps should be.
And if you’re looking behind, realizing that your past work isn’t aligned with how you want to move forward, that’s ok!
At Stratos, we’re normalizing recalibration and flexibility. Case in point…just this year, we tried a direct mail campaign to reach tradespeople and a social media audit program to reach small businesses needing better social media. Neither of these gave us the results we wanted so we’re recalibrating and trying something else next year!
Here’s to being an ever-evolving business. We’re right there with you.🥂
*Setting guiding principles rather than goals has been so freeing in my personal life (especially as an Enneagram 7). Just send me a note if you want to know more. I’m happy to share but don’t have time to tackle that here, too.