There is a certain energy around the beginning of a new year that nudges us in the direction of big ideas and big plans. It’s a great time to gather ideas and think about the opportunities for the year ahead. However it’s also possible to get swept along in a tide of ‘everything’s going to be different this year’ without ever putting any of your big ideas into action.
So what are some of the ways you can make your New Year marketing ideas happen?
Write it down
Ideas come along at the most inconvenient times, as you’re wrestling the kids into their school uniforms, as you’re waiting in line for your morning coffee and my personal favourite, just as you’re about to fall asleep. Before you know it the idea has slipped from your memory, you have a vague blurry recollection of something that was going to transform your marketing but you can’t quite put it into words…
There are two things I do to overcome this:
I write everything down – from random scribbles on sticky notes to taking photographs with my phone to keeping leaflets and tearing adverts from newspapers.
I organise my notes – I have time allocated in my schedule to go through these random bits and pieces and assemble them into some sense of order. It’s essential to do this frequently, else the scribbled ‘big blue cta more white space’ becomes meaningless a week later and you’ve lost your idea! I expand my notes to make sure they’re easily understood – adding information on what inspired me or padding out the detail for clarity.
I use OneNote a lot for this – it’s a great way to collate lots of different types of media, photos, text etc. and move it about until it makes sense – better still I have the app on most of the devices I own and can easily share notes with the rest of the team. So no matter where I am my thoughts and ideas go with me.
Don’t forget to look back
January 1st is all about looking forward, what’s in store for us and our businesses in 2015? But, I would urge you to take a moment to look back as well. The best marketing decisions are made from reflecting on what has come before.
You might be thinking of running a ‘bigger and better’ advertising campaign this year, but bigger isn’t always better. Will your big (expensive) campaign have a stable foundation? Have you run a smaller campaign to test your message, delivery and return, can you quantify the results to date? Or are you going to spend more money on a tactic that produced mediocre results?
Honesty really is the best policy
Honesty can be brutal. Working with hard facts (£’s spent, enquiries received, sales made) can be enlightening, but it can also in some situations paint a fairly bleak picture of your marketing efforts. The dismay you feel when you discover that you’ve spent 65% of last year’s budget on marketing that has only produced 5% of your revenue is harsh.
The good news is that you will not be repeating your less successful tactics in the future – so don’t think of poor results as ‘budget wasted’ but as ‘budget saved’.
Filter your thoughts
Not every idea is a winner. Some, on reflection, are unusual, bordering on the absurd (if you’re getting creative you need to expect some unusual results). I spend a little time sorting through my ideas and break out those I feel have got real potential to those that were clearly conceived in a more creative part my brain.
I often run ideas past someone else – either a colleague or someone from my network – the feedback I get can be fantastic for developing an idea or it can spark something completely new.
I split my ideas into groups:
- Easy to implement – get it done
- Great potential – create a plan
- Nice idea but not right now
The key here is being realistic – I put ideas into the most appropriate group – I do not group them by ‘best to worst’ or to put it another way ‘most liked to least liked’. Until you try a tactic you don’t know if it will work, therefore you cannot know if it is a good or poor idea.
Group 1: Easy to implement – get it done
These are easy to tackle, turning ideas into results fast. I add tasks on my to do list and I make them happen, or delegate them to someone else if I can’t fit them into my own schedule.
A good example of this is adding links to your social networks to the bottom of your emails – time required: 15 minutes – reach: hundreds if not thousands of people (I send a lot of emails) – potential return: greater engagement with customers, more connections with suppliers and peers, increased potential for referrals.
Group 2: Great potential – create a plan
These ideas are generally a little bigger in scope. You might need to involve colleagues and suppliers in the discussion about how to make it happen. You need time to plan in order to make these ideas happen. So put planning on your to do list. Even better breakdown the steps you need to take to bridge the gap between idea and delivery and add deadlines and assign responsibility. Your plan could look like this:
- Create Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) area on website
- Talk to web team to see what would be required on the technical front. Deadline: Week 1
- Gather content ideas (involve the team). Deadline: Week 1
- Delegate draft content. Deadline: Week 2
- Review draft content. Deadline: Week 3
- Send new content to web team for publishing. Deadline: Week 4
- Discuss with team a new system for gathering fresh FAQ’s. Deadline: Week 5
So in one month you’ve gone from idea to delivery and you’re already planning how to improve the idea further in week 5.
Group 3: Nice idea but not right now
These are ideas that have resonated with you but perhaps require too high a budget or too great a time investment to implement in the short term. If an idea has already passed your filtering process it is worth scheduling some time to revisit it at a later date. Put a note in your diary to keep the idea alive!
Are ideas enough?
Ideas are the starting point. The place where you gather inspiration, add a little wisdom and plan for success. Shortly I will be writing on setting goals for your marketing tactics and how to refine your filtering process. To be the first to receive my latest posts sign up for our newsletter below.
New Year Marketing: What ideas do you have?
Let us know in the comments what ideas you’ve been thinking of implementing for the year ahead and how you plan to put them into action.