Deck the hall? Nope, clear the deck!
At this time of year there is talk of celebration, warm home fires, and decking the halls. But from my marketing point of view, it’s really a time to clear the decks. It is the year end that I like to focus on in this timeframe rather than the year ahead. January will bring a surge of energy that’s ideal for creating but if you don’t have the space for it, you won’t be as effective. Here are a few simple strategies to close your marketing year with grace so the new year can kick off free and clear.
Take stock of where you’ve been.
We often try so hard to move forward that we forget to stop and assess where we’ve been—and how well it did or didn’t go. So grab a cup of cocoa and spend a little time reviewing the year, even if it is only in your mind’s eye. Better if you involve a little paper or a few reports. Review your efforts by category, not by all the individual campaigns or actions you made. Networking, referral relationships, content creation (blogs, articles, columns, etc. all fit here), joint marketing, public relations (getting your name in print via credible news sources), speaking, social media, trade shows, and advertising are all examples of categories, though there are more. Try to review at this point without judgement—just understand where your time was spent. I don’t mean the number of campaigns/efforts here though, I mean real time. If you spend 2 hours every week writing a blog post and go to two 2-hour networking events monthly, then you’re spending more time in the content creation category than the networking category. Now review each of the categories and attempt to link them to the business that came in. Did the business that came in line up with the categories that you spend the most time? If not, you may want to dial the activities in those categories back. A little can go a long way. In the previous example, cutting the blogging time in half would free up 4-5 hours a month for another category that is more profitable. That’s like getting a half day free to attend to another form of marketing that directly relates to you earning money. Yahoo!
Make a plan for finishing up those lagging tasks.
An end of the year article wouldn’t be complete without reminding you that a long list of unfinished tasks is energy draining. Looking at an unfinished marketing (or any!) task and saying that you’ll attend to it next year is the same as saying that you don’t have the skill, know-how, or courage to do it now. That is a dis-empowering message to yourself. I’m not suggesting that you add more to your to-do list this busy season, but I am asking you to do a few minutes of planning. Look at each task and ask: should I really do this task or is this busy-work/someone else’s idea/non-related to my profitable categories. Have the courage to toss it if it’s not really pressing. Trust that by clearing things you don’t really want to do, you are making more space for those things you do. If it truly is a task you’d like to see completed, make a plan as to how that will happen. Jotting down the steps you’ll need to take to complete it and putting that time on your calendar or scheduling a kick-off meeting counts. Putting it in a file and making a January appointment with someone you can delegate it to counts. I hope you’re catching that it’s not the getting it done that’s important right now, but rather the actual decision making about keeping it as a to-do and making a realistic plan to accomplish it that matters to best end your year.
That’s it! An afternoon well spent. You can end the year in peace knowing that this year is all tidied up and that you have space for things to come in 2015.
I wish you and yours all the best at this year’s end and many blessings in your new year. I’m off for some well deserved family time so I’ll catch up with you in January.