It happens every year. We’re busy preparing for our busiest part of the year and by the time it comes, we’re already so exhausted and high on adrenaline that we barely have time to breathe, eat or shower, let alone plan for next year. But hold on – about that planning for next year? The fourth quarter is the best time to develop your marketing plan. Here’s how to harness what you’ve learned this quarter to create your best marketing plan yet.
Plan a Retreat to Plan out Your Plan
A retreat needn’t be a whole weekend affair or a whole day. Nor do you need to book a flight to get it done. Set aside one morning and go to a coffee shop with a calendar and a notebook and any records you want to access. We live in a busy and distracted world and even two hours of uninterrupted time might be enough to seriously review your business goals from earlier in the year and see what you need to do to accomplish them by the end of this calendar year.
In Deep Work, author Cal Newport argues that the best way to get more meaningful work done is by working deeply, which means we must be in a state of high concentration without distractions to our task at hand. That means no phone calls, no texts, no checking social media – no interruptions at all.
Once you’ve determined what needs to happen before year’s end, use your calendar to jot down ways to help you achieve those goals (spoiler alert: by assigning hard dates, you can review after the season whether this was the optimal time for those tactics or if moving them to a different date would’ve been more effective).
Finally, this is your time to start thinking big picture and experimenting! Ever wanted to try a loyalty program, or adding a gift with purchase, or a new social media platform? This is the time to try it and see how it works.
Start Building Out 2020’s Marketing Plan
Next, we need to start using the increase in traffic to build a stronger platform for next year. Create an “IDEAS” file, either physical or digitally, that can collect ideas or things that worked this year. Your file can include folders for emails, events, advertisements, testimonials, assets such as photos or videos, etc. It also needs a 2020 calendar.
As each day and week passes this holiday season, note any great ideas you’ve seen other businesses implement that you can incorporate into next year’s plan (such as a killer email subject line or video used for social media). Also, tried anything new this season that really worked well? Add it to next year’s calendar.
Ask like-minded colleagues to do the same. More on that later, but the point is, the more people who can participate in this practice, the better.
Also, don’t forget to ask customers for their emails as they visit the store (even if they don’t purchase). Offer them an incentive for sharing their email because your email list is gold.
Capturing your ideas now will help you plan next year’s plan while the ideas are still fresh in your mind. Just don’t delay, because you won’t remember these great ideas in January. This tactic is so effective and quick to accomplish that you’ll thank yourself next year for having the foresight to do it.
Connect and Brainstorm With Like-Minded Colleagues
The last step is to connect and brainstorm ideas with like-minded colleagues. What worked for them and what did they find that they thought was interesting enough to try in 2020? Of the ideas you shared, which ones do they think have legs? Are the ideas limited to the holiday season or can they be used for Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day? Fill in the rest of your 2020 marketing plan (and add those emails to your email list!) with other ideas you’ve been collecting in your “IDEAS” file.
It’s not necessary to build out your entire 2020 marketing plan at this moment, but these easy steps will help you capture the most important ideas, even during your busiest season of the year.