In some industries the last two months of the year are written off as an unproductive time. But experienced marketing directors and CMOs know that this is the wrong approach when it comes to marketing. Not only can the end of the year be incredibly productive, but if a department head doesn’t use all of his or her budget, they risk losing some of it for the next year.
As lovers of marketing, we want to ensure that marketing dollars don’t go to waste, and in the spirit of the holidays, we’ll use the famous holiday story of a Christmas Carol to help guide your plan for your remaining budget and help you transform your marketing for next year. In a Christmas Carol, Scrooge has his life transformed by visits from three ghosts, Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future, and these same three spirits can also help you decide where to put those final marketing dollars.
Step 1: Review the Basics
A Visit from the Ghost of Christmas Present
The end of the year is a great time to think about what you could be doing better, and what needs to be done in the year to come. Some companies may have a specific area of concern – such as a poorly designed and non-SEO-friendly website, or ineffective email marketing campaigns – and others may need a more comprehensive look at their situation. Either way, hiring a consultant to review your strengths and weaknesses and develop a plan of action to follow is a great way to wind up the year. At Marstudio we have a 9-step process for evaluating a client’s needs and developing a plan of action.
If your company is not in a place where hiring a consultant for an overview makes sense, bringing in a guest speaker with an expertise in marketing or a specific marketing channel can be a great way to help your marketing team rethink assumptions and become invigorated for a new year.
The ghost of Christmas Present provides a clear-eyed view of what you do and do not have.
Step 2: Target Your Audience
A Visit from the Ghost of Christmas Past
Part of knowing what to do next year is understanding what you did the year before. Putting some of your end-of-year budget into research and making sure you have the right tools in place for next year is a great use of resources. Understanding your Google Analytics information, as well as information on open rates and click-through rates from email campaigns, will help you get a firm grip on the success of your current marketing plan.
For a lot of people who come to marketing from a creative background, this kind of analytical work is not second nature, and tends to get put off. However, it is an important part of both analyzing the impact and effectiveness of your past work, and building your future plans.
The Ghost of Christmas Past presents a non-debatable look at what you did and did not accomplish this year.
Step 3: Grab the Gold
A Visit from the Ghost of Christmas Future
A standard end-of-year marketing task is to send out holiday notes or offers to special customers, clients, or prospects. This warm, personal touch is definitely part of building an ongoing relationship. But why do something standard?
Recent research shows that “snail mail” is surprisingly effective with younger people, but of course, it’s hard to track what happens with a piece of direct mail, unless it’s physically brought back to you. However, by combining digital and print media you can get the best of both worlds. This is a technique that we at Marstudio have been taking on and the approach gives us the means to give snail-mail a personalized feel and create more impactful interaction with our target customer, making our brand stick more effectively. Plus it allows us to directly track and analyze the effectiveness of the campaign, without making it stale.
This year, instead of simply sending a holiday card, send a holiday card with a link to an online video, free e-book, or other enticing offers. Adding the digital element allows you both to track how effective your mail is, and to continue to build on the relationship with more targeted follow-up marketing.
The Ghost of Christmas Future shows a great way to build on what you have, to create a more effective future marketing plan.
The Ghosts of Christmas Present, Past, and Future show us that those last marketing dollars can become an essential part of your on-going marketing success, and with the right strategy for how to use them, your company can go into the new year with a more focused and efficient strategy. If you have any questions on how you should use your end-of-the-year budget, please do not hesitate to contact us for assistance.