It’s nearly the end of 2019, and that means that marketing and communications teams are busy finishing up their work for the year.
The new year offers a lot of promise, but these departments should be wary not to carry things across into the new year that are better remaining in this one. Setting yourself up to face the unique challenges of the coming year means closing out this year correctly.
So how can a marketing or communication department end the year right to segue into a successful new one? To help, 15 professionals from Forbes Communications Council take a look at some of the most important things marketing and communications teams should do to set up a successful transition into 2020.
1. Assess The Old, Plan For The New
Start on those key 2020 content strategy initiatives now — even if it’s just the project outlines for the initiatives. While you’re assessing the 2019 content performance, you can immediately start to use these fresh insights during Q4 to inform the planning stages of your new key 2020 content and campaign initiatives. This sets the direction for the team and helps inform resource planning. – Lucy Mehrtens, Templafy
2. Make Sure You Don’t Drown
The end of the year brings with it a massive campaign investment trend from all companies. Find the way your brand can stand out, start early and capture your audience. Don’t wait too long or you will drown in the sea of ad spend and messages. Focus on actions and less on low cost, within reason. The end of the year is a time for celebration for both us and our target audience. Embrace it. – Kobi Ben-Meir, Yalber
3. Examine Your Data To Find New Opportunities
Q4 is the perfect opportunity to take a closer look at all the data you’ve gathered over the year. Consolidate your sources, plot KPIs in a visualization tool and critically examine your findings. If you look closely at your marketing and sales metrics from the year, you’ll be able to find areas for improvement and maybe even new opportunities for growth that can be a focus for the next year. – Devin Henry, Nomadic Real Estate Investments, LLC
4. Take Stock Of What Your Competitors Did
This time of year is always about looking back and looking forward, but don’t just navel gaze. What about competitors? Did they do really well this year? What might be brewing that could be a threat to you? Build on your own successes and also look for ways to play catch-up, or where you need to build defenses, or ideas to further differentiate. The answers don’t always come from within. – Ellen Sluder, RingBoost
5. Reflect On Customer Feedback
I recommend reading and discussing customer surveys and other sources of feedback. Bring cross-teams together and celebrate what was done to create happy customers (net promoters) and problem-solve how to turn unhappy customers (detractors) into advocates in 2020. Small actions can make a big difference to maximize customer satisfaction, and thus, impact business growth and loyalty results. – Stacy Sherman, Schindler Elevator Corporation
6. Complete All Your Pending Projects
There are numerous projects that are on-the-go for all of us. As your year comes to an end, it’s important to get them completed so you can start with a new slate. It gives you clarity in your thinking and allows you to focus fully on what you want to achieve over the next 12 months. Reevaluate the objectives and reverse-engineer the steps required to complete each task and end the year strong. – Hasnain Raza, Market One Media Group Inc
7. Thank People
One of the best ways to stay in touch with people is to thank them. If someone has had a positive impact on your business this year, tell them how much it means to you! Thanking someone lets them know they are important to you, and they’ll be more likely to think of you again — and potentially send referrals your way. Bonus: It’s not just good for business. It makes all of us feel good, too. – Kate Barton, Clearview Advisory
8. Share Industry Trends And Your Vision
Business-to-business marketers can identify and share insights into industry mega-trends for thought leadership and content marketing. How are trends impacting the industry, customers and employees? Then, what are some predictions for the coming year? These topics help create an industry narrative that is unique and meaningful, and also help align the organization around a vision to further advance the category. – Guy Murrel, Catapult PR-IR
9. Fail At Something
The word “fail” can be scary, but often, successful campaigns have come from failing fast and learning. Find a small program to pilot that you’ve been curious about that won’t hurt your budget or overall metrics. No matter the success, you can build a stronger strategy than before by either finding a new tactic that has a great ROI or by learning from data points as to why it didn’t succeed. – Heather Dueitt, MyPoint Credit Union
10. Celebrate Your Successes
As we head toward the end of 2019, it’s always a good idea to look back on the year to see what went well and what could have gone even better. That reflection should include taking time to celebrate the successes. Often, by the time a campaign can be defined as a success, we’ve already moved on to the next project. Use the end of the year as a time to enjoy those wins and use them to launch 2020. – Tom Wozniak, OPTIZMO Technologies, LLC
11. Check In With Internal Stakeholders
Check in with your internal customers: your stakeholders. If marketing teams are hitting their numbers yet have rocky relationships with internal partners, they will ultimately not succeed. The end of the year is a great time to sit down and have an open-ended discussion, engaging with curiosity and authenticity to explore what is or isn’t working — and what people need more of from your team. – Seema Kumar, servicechannel.com
12. Stand For Something
Do your company a favor and simply portray what you stand for. First, create a situation — when should they get in touch? Choose a symbol — an image, a character, an object. Human minds memorize tangible things more easily than an abstract concept. Then, portray an action. People will remember why they need you.When you launch your 2020 campaigns, people will be ready to talk with you! – Matteo Atti, VistaJet Ltd.
13. Schedule Stakeholder Downloads
As you plan for 2020, you need to understand what worked, what didn’t and what others inside the organization valued. Schedule meetings with your key internal stakeholders to get their views on how marketing supported their efforts. During those sessions, be sure to focus on the goals of different departments, share your preliminary plans and define what success will look like. – Sheridan Orr, CultureIQ
14. Start Experimenting With Video
Everyone has been shouting from the rooftops about video in 2019, but many companies have still been reticent to dive in. The expense and time of producing video quality is a big barrier, so take this time to experiment and build a case for your decision-makers as to why your company should invest in video content. Start small with raw video and show a path forward so you can leverage video in 2020. – Patrick Ward, Rootstrap
15. Let Your Data And Creativity Shine
Compile numbers, data and statistics from the past year, and utilize this wealth of information for various year-in-review marketing campaigns. With this high-level overview, use creative branding, illustrations and/or graphic design to showcase the progress your company has achieved, as well as the community imprint it has made. – Maura Kennedy, Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, LLP