Finish Strong: Your End Of The Year Strategy & Beyond
Dec 13, 2019
2019 is coming to a close. It is time to evaluate 2019’s achievements, successes, and failures, then plan for 2020. If your 2019 was anything like Stout Heart’s, you’ve worked hard all year to achieve your goals by providing fantastic customer experiences, delivering the best products possible, and pivoting and steering your company toward success.
Now that December is upon us, we find that this is the time of year to circle back around to our objectives and assess any ground that’s left to be covered. If we have met our business goals, we set new ones and plan for the year to come. But, before we prepare for the new year, we assess what we have done.
First thing’s first. Let’s assess the progress made in 2019. Did you meet revenue goals? Did you build brand awareness and grow your social networks? Let’s take a look at some of the important business metrics to take stock in.
It’s the obvious #1 on this list but also the most important. This analysis connects to all of the year goals and 2020 planning. How are the revenue numbers? How did sales compare to last year? Does your business experience seasonality? What caused the increase or decrease in revenue? What marketing or sales efforts produced the best results?
The findings will allow you to understand not only what efforts produce positive results, but also uncover which marketing tactics and messages resonate best with your target audience and which fell short. Additionally, you will see which channels produced the best engagement and attribution to your bottom line. These learnings will help frame 2020’s strategy and budgetary spends.
Planned Budget to Spend
Next, did you use all of your budgeted dollars for marketing, infrastructure, and technology? Were all dollars spent well? What worked, and how can you replicate it moving forward?
We always look at what efforts that were a success and see if any remaining budget can be spent to impact one last push to meet or exceed your objectives. For example, if your retargeting campaign exceeded its targets, that’s awesome. Replicate those efforts to continue to drive positive ROI. Or, did new productivity software like Monday or Slack improve internal efficiencies or shorten project timelines? If not, now’s the time to highlight shortcomings so that the failure reasons can be pinpointed and avoided in the future.
Marketing & Website Performance Metrics
Building on both of these items above, time to review and analyze the performance of campaigns, marketing channels, paid and organic efforts, internal team’s adoption of new technologies, website effectiveness, and other business-related metrics. What produced the best outcomes? What is the ROI for paid campaigns?
Based on those findings, your team will be informed about how to move forward in 2020, and if any budget is left, you could allocate funds to the top producing items to finish 2019 strong or look to improve shortcomings in the same vein.
Additionally, it’s time to look at how well internal processes and technologies are leveraged. Is your team happy and more productive with the technologies being used? Did new tools help or hinder performance? Are there other tools that can be obtained to future improve the productivity and output of your great employees?
Now that 2019 review has been completed, sans December’s metrics, let’s talk about how we plan for 2020.
Goals & Objectives
Determining your 2020 goals and objectives can bring together a lot of different business factors. While this can be a daunting process to pull together key personal reviews and business reports, and it takes time away from day to day tasks, it is imperative.
Start with quantifiable goals that can be measured and achieved, or even slightly aspirational. Consider thinking beyond sales, revenue, growth, and market share goals to include infrastructure, talent acquisition, technology, community creation, expanding marketing channel usage, and evolving your product offerings. Then put pen to paper, define very specific macro and micro goals, share those goals internally, and be determined to do what it takes to meet those goals – both through effort and resources.
Lastly, define rewards for meeting those goals. Not just individual producer rewards, but company-wide rewards that reinforce your commitment to those goals and rewarding those who work toward them. Once those goals are set, work backward to determine what needs to be done to meet those goals. Focus on:
- Do you have the skills in house to achieve these goals or do you need to hire or rent them?
- What infrastructure and technology improvements are needed?
- What marketing campaigns and channels will produce the best awareness and consideration to influence sales?
- What UX and CX changes need to happen on your website, onboarding, and customer experience processes?
Renting vs. Buying Skill Sets
What seems to be one of the most consistent question business have faced forever is whether or not to rent skill sets or buy them. Meaning, do you contract out jobs and knowledge bases or hire experts to run what you need internally. While some organizations love to grow their business and skillsets through hiring talented experts, others like to pay consulting firms, agencies, and contractors to complete tasks that you might not need ongoing or full time after a specific project is complete.
Each business has unique challenges and needs. Being able to compare budgets to goals, and being honest about internal skillsets is not an easy task. If you are not looking to bring on new hires, partner with skilled and well-respected experts in their fields. Stout Heart believes that you are the expert of your business, we are experts in marketing and advertising. We use our skills to create impactful materials and campaigns for you so you can run your business while we help meet your business goals. Other services are no different, so there are many ways to obtain the skills set you to need to achieve your 2020 goals.
Infrastructure & Technology
Meeting your 2020 goals will take attention to detail along the way. One aspect that can be easily overlooked is infrastructure and technology. If your teams are not set up for success, they will burn out trying to meet goals. Regardless of how your team structure is set up, looking to provide optimized team communication, streamlined yet straightforward project management, easy asset sharing and management, and transparent processes are essential.
These days, technologies provide businesses amazing tools to offer your teams these optimized infrastructures, which, when deployed correctly, can have deep-reaching impacting on your customers and bottom line.
Once these aspects are determined, connecting them with your customer-facing technology is recommended to improve customer experiences, which will help meet those 2020 goals. Each of these technologies should be evaluated on their improvement to the bottom line and how well they will help reduce internal and external pain points associated with lead gen, lead nurture, and the overall sales process.
In addition to internal team and CRM tools, there are other technologies you could provide teams to improve campaign management of email marketing, social media, and paid marketing such as Sprout Social, SEMrush, and Wordstream.
Marketing & Channel Usage
Your 2020 marketing can take many forms, given the vast marketing channels and activation methodologies available today. Regardless of the tactics used, the overall focus should be on being where your target audience is and sharing great content with them. Understand where your audience is throughout the day, share content, and place ads at times they are most likely to pay attention to your message.
This means brands need to consider marketing channels that might be considered “fads” but are, at the present moment, very popular. Once you uncover which channels allow you to reach as many of your target audience as possible, create exceptional, high-quality content that speaks to them.
High-quality content allows you to show your expertise and communicate with your customers from a place of authority. Your content is also what search engines provide to searchers online from an organic standpoint, so continuing to produce high-quality content is a must, not just for paid campaigns. This high-quality content is not only in the form of written words or images; it must be video-based content too.
Additionally, there are a handful of specific marketing practices that will help you set yourself apart from your competition that is new to the standard marketing mix. Brands need to find the balance of old and new marketing to reach and convert their target audiences. Here are some of the 2020 modern marketing tactics that you should start to plan for:
- Continued Focus on Trust-Worthy Content Marketing
- Video Content – Short Form Tick Toc & Social Stories
- Shoppable Social Media Posts
- Better Personalization Using AI
- Maximizing Google Ads Smart Bidding
- SERP Position Zero
- Text (Yes, Text Messaging Directly to Targets)
User & Customer Experience
Now that you have the goals, talent, technology, and marketing plan in place, an essential part is making sure your user experience (UX) and customer experience (CX) are well optimized. Your goals will not be met if you work hard to drive traffic to your website and sales teams only to lose them due to poor experiences. While most of the technologies you have in place will help create a seamless experience for your prospects and customers alike, you will need to make sure the experience meets their expectations.
Brand website, app, social channels, emails, and sales touchpoints all need to be consistent while reinforcing your message and values. They also need to meet usability standards so users can easily engage with your brand at every point in the sales cycle. Planning user and customer experience updates in 2020 should be a priority to ensure your marketing dollars are not wasted. And, if you do not have a website that allows for these experiences, you should begin to plan a Digital Transformation project ASAP.
Planning for 2020 should include:
- Website UX Standards & Optimized Engagement Flows
- CX Best Practices for Sales & Retention Campaigns
- Interactive Content
- Smart Website Chat (Conversational Marketing)
- Value-Added & Trust Worthy Touch Points
- Devise Agnostic Website (RWD)
Conclusion & Wrap Up
Yes, this can all be a lot but, chances are, you have been doing this already and might not even know it. But, if you are not, 2020 is the year to strategize better, plan, manage and optimize your brand and offerings to meet and surpass your goals. Pick and choose the items that will create the most impact and start there. Then, add on more and more channels and content offerings to provide your target audience amazing experiences.
If you don’t think you can do it alone, Stout Heart is here to help. Need help putting together a strategy that meets your target audience’s needs while achieving your business goals? Then let’s talk to get a plan in place that will maximize your budgets, presents your business to your target audience, and offers fantastic experiences that support conversions. Let’s chat! [email protected]