Wow! It is already October. Hard to believe 2006 is winding down. For all businesses the end of our fiscal year means turning your focus on the next year’s opportunities and challenges.
Here are a couple of thoughts to help with this process:
1. If Marketing is responsible for writing the plan, who else is at the table? If you don’t have all of your business represented you are missing important insight. Remember marketing is about bringing all the spokes of the wheel together to present a solid product/service to your marketplace.
2. Remember you can’t create a brand only through messaging and creativity. A brand is developed over time by the complete relationship between customer and company. Too many businesses talk about “strengthening their brands” without ever looking at all of the pieces of the business. Xerox’s brand today comes from years of outstanding relationships, product and service to the market. If you need a “bad” example of putting the brand before the product think about “pets.com”
3. Don’t forget to look for trends, opportunities and other information from beyond your market boundaries. What is influencing other industries and how might that affect yours?
4. Don’t write next year’s plan without understanding how this year’s is performing. And remember, this year is still underway!
5. Bring your customers to the table to help understand their perspective, but remember, customers do not have a unbiased perspective. It is their biases you need to understand the most!
6. Build your budget off your plan starting at zero every year. A zero-based budget forces a business to ask hard questions and question hard-wired assumptions. There should be no sacred programs!
7. As a corollary to #5, remember great programs need time to find their momentum. You can’t judge everything on short-term performance.
8. Your marketing plan should address both your internal key influencers (employees) and your external key influencers (shareholders, media, industry execs, etc.)
9. Make sure you have measures identified along with action plans and accountabilities to ensure your plans are implemented. Also build in regular review for mid-year corrections when necessary.
10. Have fun — celebrate your successes and your failures because it takes both to conquer your market.