A Marketer’s Guide to Starting the New Year Right

By Lindsey Laughlin

It’s that time of year when the busyness of the holidays has faded, you’ve settled back into the routine of 5-day work weeks, and a year’s worth of marketing efforts stretch in front of you, creating both a sense of opportunity and a feeling of being overwhelmed. Transitioning back into the swing of things can be hard, and there’s often a lot to do in Q1 to start the year off right. Here are some tips that help me make a good start each year.

Declutter

I’ll tell you a secret—I’m not a fan of knick-knacks. It brings me great joy to go through my house and fill boxes with items to donate. I don’t waffle on whether I should keep something…it just goes into the box. But at work? Over the course of a year, the stacks of paper on my desk grow from modest islands to land masses that take over my workspace. I have a fear of shredding something or deleting a file that I might need later.

I’ve found that I need to take time at the start of each year to get reorganized and declutter. What does that look like?

  • Start with what you can see. Sit at your desk and look around you. Separate paperwork into piles to be filed or shredded. Gather the business cards you’ve collected and make sure they’re entered into your contacts. Restock supplies that are running low or are worn out, like pens, highlighters, and sticky notes. And don’t miss updating photos or artwork you may have. Having an organized and refreshed space can breathe new energy into your office.
  • Clean up your digital workspace. File cleanup is important, but often overlooked or not maintained throughout the year. Now’s the time to implement file-naming conventions and a folder structure for your digital files. If you work as part of a team, make sure that everyone else follows the same practices, too.

It’s easy to put off decluttering and organizing your workspace, but making time to knock these tasks off your to-do list now will save you countless hours and frustration over the course of the year.

Set Goals

If you want to reach your goals, the first step is to define them. When you write them down, they become real and something concrete to work toward. Maybe you want to launch your first cross-platform digital campaign or test a new campaign targeting strategy. Outline your marketing goals, but also identify personal goals and ways in which you want to grow in the upcoming year, such as speaking at an industry event or learning a new skill.

Make sure your goals are actionable, and when possible, set milestones for yourself. If one of your goals is to increase sales leads, for example, outline a plan for how you’ll do so and be specific: by what percentage do you want to increase leads, and what steps will you take to do this?

Once you’ve defined your goals, write them down and keep them somewhere you’ll see them often. It’s easy to be goal-oriented in January, but you’ll back-burner these tasks as you get busy if you don’t make them a priority. If you get off track and miss a milestone you’ve set for yourself, that’s okay! Don’t give up on yourself or your ability to achieve your goals, and if necessary, you don’t have to wait until next January to start over. Take a minute to recognize how you got off track so that you can work toward hitting the next milestone.

Review Your Roadmap

It’s likely been a few months since you developed your marketing roadmap for the year, so dust it off and make sure that nothing has changed. If your budget was approved since the creation of your roadmap, work to overlay your budget with your campaigns and initiatives so that you have a complete view of where your marketing dollars will be spent.

It’s also a good time to make sure that your roadmap still aligns with your business goals. End-of-year sales figures or the current competitive landscape may require you to adjust the timing of specific efforts. Because a roadmap is a living document, make sure to review and update it as needed so that it’s serving your goals.

Related: Beyond Campaigns: The Evolution of the Marketing Roadmap, Supercharge Your Marketing Game with Roadmaps

Re-Evaluate Placements

Now’s the time to review data from last year and compare it to your media placement. Have your audience or goals changed? How have the demographics and reach of your media changed? Meet with your media partners to make sure your placement still aligns well with your audience and goals. The demographics of a media outlet’s primary audience can change over time, so a radio station or TV network that had been a good fit for you in the past may not reach your target audience as well anymore.

Also, talk to media partners about any new opportunities you could utilize. You may be able to run a larger print ad more cheaply as part of a special package than if you run a smaller ad at rate card. Digital partners may have access to new data that could impact your placement opportunities.

It’s also the time to consider new media outlets and partners and see how they may fit into your media mix. Making connections with potential partners will help them to keep you top of mind for special opportunities and placement packages that you may not learn about otherwise. During initial negotiations ask about test rates that may be available. Even without having an established relationship with them, you may be able to get a lower rate to see how their network/newspaper/etc. performs for you.

In Conclusion…

Hopefully, your new year is off to a great start, but if you’re feeling a little off track, make time to go through each tip above. Getting organized and having a clear game plan can set you up for a successful and productive year.

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