As hard as it is to believe September is here, school is back in session and there are only four months left to achieve the 2018 goals you set at the beginning of the year. Except, there aren't really four left if you subtract the holidays, it's really more like a little over three! During this time, you not only must deliver on all the promises you made for 2018, you have to also find the time necessary to develop a plan for 2019 that’s even bigger and better than last year's plan.
Here are the most important things to focus on heading into the 4th quarter.
Finish 2018 Strong
Depending on the work you did preparing for 2018, there are several different things you may need to do to finish the year strong. If you started the year with a well developed Strategic Plan and a resulting Marketing Plan, then revisit these items as you end this year.
- Review your strategic plan and marketing plan and check the assumptions you made about the market and your team. If things are not as you anticipated, then you may need to adjust how you approach the ending few months.
- Focus more on the Marketing Plan, and less on the Strategic Plan. At this point in the year, adjusting “tactics” will likely produce more benefit than altering “strategy.” Assess what has and has not worked well this year and do more of what has proven to be effective.
- Recognize that for many B2B buyers the end of the year is a time when they increase their purchasing, whether to use up budgets or tie up loose ends. So communicating with your prospects, either directly or via email, may yield some surprising or unexpected benefits.
- Acknowledge that the best thing you can do to cue up a successful 2019 is to finish 2018 well. Projects you get on the books at the end of the year will often carry over into next year, as well as yield additional projects. These will add to the base for 2019 and make achieving next year's goals easier.
- First, stop for a couple of days and assess 2018 results so far. Answer these questions:
- What have you learned about your market?
- What marketing and sales activities have produced the most benefit?
- What types of companies have responded to your message?
- Who in those companies are the primary buyers?
- Set some realistic goals for the remainder of the year that reflect what you learned from your assessment and the time available to you.
- Also begin preparations to conduct a Strategic Planning exercise, as recommended in our Strategic Planning 101 eBook, that will result in a Marketing and Sales Plan for 2019. This will mean being focused on tactics for the remainder of the year while you develop your Strategy for next year.
Plan for 2019
The attached eBook, “Creating the Future of Your Business” offers a step by step process for developing a Strategic Plan. It outlines a successful planning process and detailed instructions for each step in the process. If you follow its recommendations, you will be able to develop and implement a successful Plan.
Please recognize that the process is not simple, easy or something that can be completed in a one or two-hour session. It will take a significant commitment on the part of several members of senior management, but if followed to completion will produce results well worth the effort.
Please know that where most companies fail is not in the development of the plan. Where they fail is in the execution of the plan. Life intrudes, business changes, and other things seem to have a higher priority and the steps necessary to implement the plan get postponed. So, before you even start, commit yourself and get commitments from your team to follow through.
Focus on What is Most Important
I have written before about the 12 things to do as part of you strategic marketing planning process. If you don’t have time to read the ebook offered below, then at least read the article. And if you can’t muster the time for that, then implement these first three on the list – they are the most important.
- Assess available resources to set realistic goals: The ability to develop a credible plan requires recognizing the limitations of the resources you have available. While a small team, under pressure, can get a lot done, a larger team may be able to accomplish more in a saner fashion. You may accomplish less than you hope, if you overwhelm a small but talented team.
- Decide what goals you want to achieve: The greatest benefit a strategic plan affords the marketing department is the ability to fashion clear and concise goals that support the enterprise in achieving its vision. The marketing team should create a comprehensive list of goals covering every aspect of their activities.
- Decide who you are targeting — personas of key buyers: The strategic plan is invaluable in identifying the profile of the buyers that you are targeting. It is imperative that detailed personas be developed for each of these potential buyers and influencers. The marketing team should develop these with the sales team and solicit their comments and discussion.
Successful businesses plan. They are not successful by accident. Sometimes planners don’t have all the information they need, and the team must make assumptions that aren’t verified or refuted until later. Then they adjust.
But they don’t not plan.
If you want to be successful, you must plan now for the end of 2018 and begin your planning for 2019. The sooner your plan is complete and everyone on your team knows what is expected of them, the sooner you can get next year off to a great start.
If you want to better understand the Strategic Planning process and want a great framework for ensuring success, consider diving a little deeper.
Download our eBook: Strategic Planning 101 -- Creating the Future of Your Business, which includes:
- An introduction and overview of the Strategic Planning process
- How to make Strategic Planning successful - 6 keys to success
- 10 steps to prepare for your Strategic Planning exercise
- And more…