moneyYou’ve executed nearly all your marketing plans for the year, you’ve squirreled and saved your budget in case it’s needed for contingencies or you’ve got an extra pot of MDF from somewhere that you’ve tucked away ‘just in case’…but now it’s almost Christmas (sorry, but it is!) and you’ve got 4 working weeks to use it or lose it! So what do you do? You can’t realistically execute a new campaign before Christmas, you can’t think of something ‘Christmassy’ to do and you’re not allowed to spend it on a huge party – so what are your options?

Well, here’s three things that often get shoved to the back of the pile, but that could actually help make your marketing in 2016 more effective.

  1. Review your data.

Spend a bit of time or money on it. It will pay dividends. First, consider how old is your data? When was the last time it was refreshed? Is it still even current or is it sitting in a legacy system and rarely accessed? Do you know which ‘pots’ of data are the most effective for you? Do you know what your ‘sweet spot’ customer looks like? Now is a perfect time to review your data and see whether you can get it updated internally, or use an agency to refresh / requalify / update it.

If you know who your target customers are, it’s worth looking at whether you can buy in more data that matches this profile. (Be careful when using external data houses you’re not familiar with and make sure you’re really clear about what you’re asking for. Unless you specify named contacts, personal email addresses, verticals, geography and a host of other things you’ll end up with more records, but not necessarily useful ones! Remember, a data house wants to sell you as much data as possible! So be smart about what you ask for.) The good thing about improving your data is that of course it means that your marketing messages will get through to more of the right type of people…and that can only be a good thing!

  1. Collateral.

Is there something you wish you had or that your sales team keep asking for? Now could be a great time to remedy the situation. Perhaps it’s a sales playbook, an animation or video, a thought leadership guide, a product roadmap…it could be any number of things (or even a selection of them!). What extra piece of collateral could be useful in boosting your sales and marketing next year?

This time of year is a great time to create it as key technical or sales staff tend to be more office based and available for calls or meetings so you can pick their brains! Many people worry that if they want new pieces of collateral they effectively have to spend hours deciding exactly what they need to say and pulling the content together. But actually a good agency can help to streamline this process massively. By asking the right questions to give them a good understanding of your business, your goals, sales cycle, audience etc., and what you’re trying to create they can get much of the background work done. Even if you tweak the end result to get it perfect, it can still save you a massive amount of time, effort and stress. And by getting it done now, you know it’s in the bag and ready to go for next year.

  1. Getting help on your strategy.

Many people are already planning for 2016. Often the top-level plans come down from on high. Direction and perhaps even metrics are set and it’s your job to deliver them in the most effective way. But if you do what you’ve always done, then you’ll get what you’ve always got! I bet not many plans for next year are targeting flat or no growth. There’s usually a requirement for more…more sales, more profit, more customers, more leads….just more!

So how are you going to deliver more ‘more’? Don’t fall back on the same old techniques, channels and campaigns. Consider changing up your agency rosta and injecting some fresh ideas. See who else you can involve in your strategy. If you can get the sales or channel team involved in setting your marketing plan, they’re much more likely to support you when it comes round to executing it next year.

Sometimes it can be really useful to have a fresh pair of eyes, or some new brainpower when considering your strategy for next year. Do you have friends in the channel who can help (or even outside the channel. I’m a firm believer there’s lots we can learn from other industries, too.)? Can you ask some of your customers for their input into your plans for next year? Do you have a partner advisory council?

It might just be useful to test your ideas or have some help in creating new ones. We’re happy to help with this too, by the way! We run Discovery Sessions  where we’ll help you understand your value to your audience and how to get your messages across in the most impactful way and deliver the best ROI. And there’s no obligation, having run a Discovery session with us to use us for any of the delivery either.

So as the year starts slowing down and the party season starts hotting up, have a think about how you can best use any leftover budget this year to give you the best possible start to your marketing plans for 2016.

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