Are You Ready for a Happier New Year? The Importance of Marketing Planning

For some people, the beginning of December means mince pies, Christmas parties and a last minute scramble for the perfect present.  For me it only means one thing……time to get organised for next year! It might seem a bit ‘bah humbug’ to some, as the opportunity for office parties, long lunches and a slower pace after a long year present themselves, but if next year is going to be more - or even more – successful than this one, December is not a time to take your foot off the gas it’s the time to make every minute count.

By this, I don’t mean that you should try to pack every meeting in before the New Year and finish off every project as though the world will end on December 24th. We’ll all be back at our desks in January and there are always some things that can take a back seat until then.  What won’t wait, however, is the need to plan: coming back to work with a clear desk in the New Year is not realistic, but coming back to work with a clear idea of what’s in store and what needs doing by when is the key to getting 2013 off to a good start.

In marketing terms, planning starts with appraising what’s happened this year – what’s been achieved? Have you got to where you wanted to be? Which tactics have been successful? Where are improvements required? By aligning this assessment with your objectives and targets for the year ahead, you can then develop a strategy and a tactical programme that will have a positive impact on the business. And if all this seems like a lot of paper shuffling, don’t worry, it needn’t be: getting your house in order in this way is much more about taking a step back and an honest look at this year’s outcomes than it is about reports and pie charts.

And when you’ve assessed what’s been achieved and pinpointed what needs doing next it’s time to plan a programme. Where will your ad spend go? Can you achieve any editorial coverage to complement that? Will you build your presence online? Do you need to focus on sales or is it time to refresh your brand? Now is the time to consider all these questions and get the ball rolling, whether that means calling in media packs from relevant publications, linking up with a new sales partner or looking for a design agency that can encapsulate your USPs in their artwork.

Increasingly, the Christmas break dribbles into the New Year and before you know it you’re almost in February and still adding to your to do list. Instead of grappling with information overload and playing catch up in January, why not start the New Year now: it’s December, welcome to 2013.