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For as many years as I can remember, I’ve used the quiet period between Christmas and New Year’s to reflect on the year that’s passed, as well as on what lies ahead. Invariably, I’m surprised at the volume of work done by my team. Those Q1 programs seem like so long ago…
Yet for all of the accomplishments, there are the unrealized goals. I often rue how we’ve strayed from good marketing practice in some way. Not being close to the customer. Taking our eye off the competition. Not rigorously measuring and testing everything we write. Getting all that work done sometimes takes us away from common sense basics. Marketing fundamentals are often shouldered aside by the bigger initiatives, just as life takes over and personal resolutions fade away. Not too different from failing to eat right and exercise often, keys to the most common New Year’s resolution, losing weight.
Good habits make for better marketing. I think of the veteran sports pros that know there are no shortcuts even after their tenth season. Run the laps. Do the stretches. Practice the free kicks. But not everyone has the discipline, which is why so many well intentioned resolutions fail. What to do?
One idea is to create a quick-win New Year’s resolution for your department. Think of it as a “January resolution.” By making it small and completing in January, your team can enter the year a little bit smarter and more energized. Here are five easy January resolutions.
Be the Buyer Day – I’ve written about this before. It can be a lot of fun. Spend a day acting like someone buying your product, both from your company and your top two competitors. Do the product research. Fill out the forms. Sign up for the demos. Call the published sales phone numbers. This exercise takes no prep and you can find out how you stack up.
Go through All of Your Collateral – That’s right, all of it. Okay, you can break it up and assign a certain number to each team member. This isn’t the most fun exercise, so you may to spice it up with food, drink, or interesting prizes (best typo spot?). But someone needs to periodically go through your growing catalog of content and make sure it’s good enough for your customers. If you don’t can at least one asset, I don’t think you took a hard enough look.
Interview Two Customers – Every year I think, I should talk to more customers. Most marketers don’t talk to enough. It’s amazing what you learn. Strange objections. Misunderstandings. The importance of certain words in your copy. A question you never heard before. Find two customers, call and thank them for their business, and see how things are going.
Rank Your Blog Posts – Do you know your top ten blog posts for the last year? If you don’t, how will you know what to write next year? Call a meeting and just go over your top ten blog posts – most read, most shared, most commented on – and figure out what made them so.
Bring in Two New Ideas – Yes, just two. Schedule a meeting and get some industry speakers, or just a friend of yours who’s a VP of marketing of another company, to come in and talk about their best practices. Start the year off with some creative new ideas and get some fresh juices in your organization.
January was named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces, one looking forward and one looking backward. Make sure you spend December looking backward, reflecting on what you could have done better, and set a small “January resolution” to get your team off on the right foot in the new year.
These are just a few ideas. There are plenty more. If you come up with some good ones, I’d like to hear about them and how they went.
This post also appeared in LinkedIn Pulse.