With the season of long holiday weekends and summer vacations coming to a close, marketers are gearing up to launch their fall campaigns and move toward their Q3 goals.
Despite those lazy, hazy days of summer, many teams have been hard at work all season preparing for upcoming autumn projects. That’s because successful agencies know they should always be a season ahead. But with so much creative work to be done, it can be challenging to stay on top of current projects while looking ahead to the future.
Here’s how 13 members of Forbes Agency Council recommend keeping your team organized and ready to tackle the new season well in advance.
1. Keep Up With Industry News And Trends
While many of us slow down a bit in the summer, the ever-evolving digital landscape does not take a break. No matter the time of year, it’s critical that agencies peruse the top industry blogs and publications, tune in to live industry events and webinars and attend conferences to have a wealth of new ideas and strategies on deck for a new season. – Tripp Donnelly, REQ
2. Pay Attention To Your Past Data
Let historic data and trends help you adjust course. Where did your past success come from? What is the market telling you about your product/service? How can the metrics for the first half of the year apply to the second half? Look at the course you charted when you started out at the top of the year, then look in your “rear-view (and side) mirrors” to help adjust your future direction. – Ben LeDonni, CreativeMMS
3. Diversify Your Marketing Channels
Don’t put all of your eggs in one basket. Facebook recently made changes that negatively affected businesses, and brands looking to sustain reach should experiment with solutions on other platforms. Interactive digital branded content is a solution which provides immersive experiences to consumers who want to feel like part of the content consumption experience. – Shaul Olmert, Playbuzz
4. Hold Well-Planned Marketing Meetings
The book Traction by Gino Wickman explains the importance of a good team meeting. He highlights key steps, such as timing and what to discuss in those meetings. Having a planned meeting will help your team stay on track and on target to succeed for the next season. This means no cell phones in the room, just brain power. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS
5. Keep Trying New Things (Even If They Don’t Work)
I often find that people overthink planning and sometimes end up with no action. They think, “I can’t afford to do it perfectly (because of money, time, etc.), so I’m not doing it.” This is a mistake. My advice on staying ahead in terms of marketing is to always try everything you can get your hands on that feels promising. They don’t all work, but that’s the best way to find what does. – Rafael Romis, Weberous Web Design
6. Conduct A SWOT Analysis
The SWOT exercise (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) never goes out of style with an action plan and owner against each opportunity. Listening exercises with your customers and customer data review, combined with a SWOT, will keep you ahead. – Wendy Karlyn, rightpoint.com
7. Always Be Listening
As campaigns ramp down and new ones start, keep an ear to the ground and an eye on what’s next. Call it “currency,” but it can impact the outcome of what you’re working on and provide fodder for the next campaign. If we actively listen to the conversations happening around us — online and in real life — we notice things that were invisible before; they might inspire the next idea. – Daryl McCullough, Citizen Relations
8. Create A Seasonal Calendar With A Unifying Brand Message
Seasons come and go, and that’s never going to change. Identifying your company’s seasonal shifts will enable you to create a goal-oriented strategic action-item calendar. Being ahead of the curve creates a healthy opportunity to unify your messaging across all marketing types. This helps create consistency and, therefore, a more powerful marketing strategy. – Timothy Nichols, ExactDrive, Inc.
9. Keep Testing And Analyzing Your Results
The best way to stay ahead is to always be testing. If you don’t know how last season went, you can’t make the next one better. Once you’ve analyzed your summer results, use them to dial in your target audience and the strategies needed to make them convert. Once that’s accomplished, you can start building momentum toward what’s shaping up to be the biggest online holiday shopping season ever. – Michael Weinhouse, Logical Position
10. Focus On Year-Long Plans That Can Be Adjusted As You Go
The most effective campaigns are carefully planned at the start of the year with as much detail as possible. Refine plans quarterly to leverage YTD insights, shifts in business goals or new technology. Building a strong, strategic foundation at the outset of the year that is closely tied to business goals with specific KPIs is the best way to stay ahead, be efficient and get the best results. – Keri Witman, Cleriti
11. Pay Attention To Your Audience’s Device Behavior
Pay attention to your users’ device behavior and how it changes. Are they engaging more on mobile? Or using social for support instead of your call center? A growth in mobile could actually mean users are moving from engaging on a desktop to mobile — but only a cross-device view can reveal that. Noticing trends like this will enable you to proactively adjust your strategy to consumer expectations. – Preethy Vaidyanathan, Tapad
12. Make Sure Your Efforts Are Moving You Toward Your Goals
When planning out your goals for the next quarter or season, make sure you develop a plan of action that directly contributes to your annual goals. Planning your marketing for the next quarter is great, but don’t do it without asking yourself how it will help you meet your end-of-year goals. If you’re off track from the previous season, develop a plan to get yourself back on track as well. – Michael Mogill, Crisp Video Group
13. Don’t Rely Too Heavily On Past Plans And Successes
While historical data can be valuable, it can also be deadly. Just because you did something last year that worked doesn’t mean it is the right course of action this year. Opportunities in digital marketing evolve quickly and if you get too comfortable with past plans, you can really miss the boat on future opportunities. Create this year’s campaign with fresh eyes and renewed enthusiasm. – Katie Harris, Spot On Solutions