It’s that time of year again! No, we’re not talking about the release of the Pumpkin Spice Latte. We’re talking about the time of year when you are planning next year’s big marketing strategy. Only slightly less enjoyable than the PSL, in our opinion.
As marketing professionals, too often we’re tapped out when we reach this time of year. We’re exhausted. We’ve provided smart ideas and endless hours of creative brainpower all year long, but we’re not done. Not even close. We are resilient, creative and tenacious individuals whose wheels are always turning so that we can continue to thrive and prosper for our clients and businesses alike. And, while there are a number of ways to start planning your 2020 marketing strategy, we have a few bright ideas you should incorporate, so do keep reading.
Effective brainstorming. Last year we wrote a blog post on the topic of brainstorming. This form of ideation can be one of the best uses of time where colleagues come together to develop a multitude of different ideas. However, it can also be a huge time suck when there’s no purpose or structure to a session.
We get it. You don’t want to stifle anyone’s creativity, but there are ways to add some guardrails without removing all the fun. Having a clear direction and focus as well as next steps and plans to follow up are critical to getting a successful outcome.
Ideas can and should come from anywhere. Many companies say good ideas can come from anywhere, but few operate this way. Put this into practice as you start mapping out strategies and tactics for 2020. At Off Madison Ave, no matter your role or which team you’re on, you have a voice and an opportunity to add your thoughts and ideas.
One of the best ways to get a wide variety of input is to involve interns and younger team members. As you start to set 2020 marketing goals, invite them to help. Whether it’s attending a brainstorming session or asking them a sequence of questions about their consumer behavior, include new team members in the planning process. Not only will your strategy be more all-encompassing, but those younger members of your team will feel valued, and as a result likely take more ownership of the work.
Get inspired. We know. Easier said than done. In the weeks leading up to planning, we tend to read, a lot. We read books about personal interests like running and fitness or culture and society, but also about business and marketing. We glean inspiration from many different types of content. Recently we read a book that isn’t necessarily new, The Advertising Effect by Adam Ferrier, but it was still very relevant and eye-opening. The book uncovers the marketing methods and techniques used by some of the most well-known global brands. It touches on the importance of making emotional connections with consumers and how human behavior plays a role.
We also love podcasts! We listen to a ton of podcasts. Patrick and I each have about an hour-long commute to and from the office. These are a few favorites that touch on culture, innovation, perseverance, history, entrepreneurship and entertainment. Finding inspiration from a variety of places can be the secret to annual planning success:
Leverage partners. When you’re closest to the thing, whatever that might be, it can be difficult to see all the opportunity surrounding you. Engage your partners for some fresh perspective.
Some of the resources we’ve used at Off Madison Ave include sales training and coaching to prepare our teams for the new year. We’ve also incorporated process updates and business tools including EOS Traction, which has ultimately helped us streamline and organize our agency so that we’re operating more effectively overall. Without looking outside or seeking input beyond our four walls, we’d be lacking the full picture.
Bottom line, we love helping clients map out their future. When we’re invited to a strategy session or asked to provide input, we’re able to add our own learnings to the mix, which it makes the end result that much more comprehensive and creative. Take this as opportunity to tap existing partners and people with whom you work with year-round including vendors, reps or partner agencies to gain their thoughts and ideas.
Unplug, breathe and think. Finally, we cut the cord. We unplug. Sometimes taking an hour out of the week to sit with a pen and paper in a coffee shop or wine bar is all you need to come up with one great idea or many amazing recommendations. So, commit to pulling yourself away from the screen this time of year to sit with your thoughts and expertise.
At the end of the day, good planning comes down to realizing what you need help on in order to gain the clarity you need to make the right decisions. Leverage your network, your partners, peers and friends to find out new ways to meet your goals in 2020. Heck, leverage us, we’d love to help you.
This was a collaborative post by Patrick Murphy and Amy LaSala.