Welcome back from summer vacation! I hope you had a great one! Now, for the hard truth: the end is near. No, not of the world, of the calendar year. We just celebrated Labor Day, but December will be here before you know it, what with the flurry of industry events, last-minute influx of use-it-or-lose-it spend, and swaths of clients and teams out for the holidays.
Here are five things to do today that will make for smoother sailing for the rest of the year:
Make a list of seven to 10 initiatives you would do if you had the money, time, and resources. It's bound to happen. Another team didn't spend what they had allocated for, a media partner under-delivered, or your CFO simply "found" more money in the virtual cushions. Bottom line is you've got a windfall of use-it-or-lose-it budget, and a short window in which to activate it. This year be ready for it. Make a list of seven to 10 initiatives that your team could accomplish quickly (two to five weeks) if you had the money. Group them by budget level and by type (e.g., full page ad, promoted email blast, analytics tool purchase/integration, hosted or sponsored webinar) so that if and when the money comes, you're ready to go.
Source your holiday gift and start gathering names. It's always a struggle to collect names and contact info for recipients of your company's holiday card, gift, or charity donation. Start sourcing the gift today and open a Google Doc for your sales team and execs to put their names in now. There will still be a mad dash to add names come December 7, but this way you'll have the majority of the information in well ahead of time, and can use those last days to nag the stragglers, as opposed to creating urgency in a whole team that's trying to close year-end business.
Review your existing campaigns' successes and weaknesses ahead of upfront meetings. If you're back from vacation, your vendors are, too. Don't meet with them about 2014 until you've had time to review their hits and misses from 2013. Block out a day this week to review all campaign performance, and then come up with your own goals, objectives, and ideas for next year. That way you can provide your potential partners with your take on the data and insight into what you'd like to see in an upfront presentation, making the upfront process better for everyone.
Plan your event follow-up. From Advertising Week and IAB MIXX to Digiday Exchanges Summit, SES SF, and Ad:Tech NY, your marketing calendar will be booked with events this fall. Don't wait until the leads come in to plan how to activate them. Build your follow-up strategy now (thank you email templates, splash pages or blog posts on your website, etc.) so when the event happens, you can quickly move on to the next.
Start planning for 2014. I know, I know. It feels early to say this, right? You don't have your budget yet from executive management. You still have a ton of activations planned for 2013. OK, but if you did No. 3, you already have an idea of where you want to take your efforts next year. My rule of thumb is this: create plans for three scenarios:
Your budget is the same or 5 percent more.
You get a lot more money and can add two to three major new initiatives (use that handy list from No. 1 to help inform what those might be).
Same as the first bullet, but secretly think of which initiatives you'd eliminate if your budget gets cut.
I know it's an ambitious list, but I hope it's a helpful one! After all, consider the upside - come holiday season, you'll have given yourself the gift of time and peace of mind.
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Kristin Kovner is a digital marketing, technology, and media industry veteran. Her firm, K-SQUARED STRATEGIES, helps high-growth media and tech companies develop and execute best-in-class marketing strategies. Prior to opening her own consultancy, Kristin served as the Vice President of Marketing Strategy at AOL, where she managed the AOL and AOL Advertising brands and set and executed the go-to-market strategy for AOL's owned and operated websites, including AOL.com, Moviefone, MapQuest, Engadget, and The Huffington Post.
Prior to joining AOL, Kristin served as the Head of Industry Marketing for YouTube and held various roles on Google's marketing team. Kristin has also worked as a journalist for Newsweek and SmartMoney, The Wall Street Journal's magazine, and as an economic consultant at Bates White LLC.
Kristin graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Magna Cum Laude from Yale College and currently lives in New York City.