It's hard to believe, but summer is starting to wind down and it's almost time to think about your 2015 planning strategies. Here is a check list to help you move the process along as smoothly and effectively as possible.
As we wrap up the end of summer, executives around the country will be returning to their offices to start the all-important 2015 budget planning process this fall. If you're a marketer, this can be one of the most challenging yet exciting times of the year. You will reflect on key successes and failures over the past year, and think back on compelling opportunities you came across but couldn't fund due to budget restrictions. So in the spirt of making this one of the most successful budgeting seasons possible, here are my top to-dos and considerations as you enter into the 2015 planning season.
Be proactive and confirm the company's top priorities and objectives for the year ahead. Start early so you not only get the critical input you need to shape your planning, but also get involved in the executive-level planning discussions and negotiations.
There is little doubt five years from now that chief marketing officers (CMOs) will spend more on IT than the chief information officer (CIO) on technology. With integration, risk, and compliance issues a growing reality, coordination and communication between these two functions has never been more important. I also believe the best CMOs spend a substantial amount of their time in the field with sales leaders hearing about the challenges and opportunities firsthand from customers and prospects. As a result, alignment across sales, marketing, and technology leaders is an instrumental component to budget planning and investment decisions. Invest the time and effort needed to build and grow these internal relationships and partnerships. Get aligned on key product builds that help sales sell more and marketing tell a compelling and differentiated story in the marketplace. This creates and accelerates interest and demand which leads to impressive growth.
Don't be complacent. Just because you selected the market leader in a given area or technology and signed a LT contract doesn't mean your job is done. In fact, it's just begun. Press existing partners to share their product roadmap, join their advisory board, and help shape the features and functionality that will help you deliver on your organization's goals and objective in the years ahead. In addition, continue to be on the lookout for emerging providers that can bring new/innovative thinking into the mix. As CMO, set a goal to meet with at least one new, interesting vendor a quarter (and be sure your team's goal is higher) to make sure you see the best of the best with promising ideas/solutions. You will not only learn something new but you may even find a critical new partner that can provide you with the edge needed to help you exceed your goals in the coming year.
Review your team needs, talent, and staffing. Share the goals and objectives with team members and make them feel part of the planning process. Encourage them to share and submit ideas or suggest vendors. Evaluate and re-evaluate performance and staffing needs. Are top performers excited and enthusiastic about contributing? Are those with performance issues making progress and improving? And finally, is staffing sufficient in terms of both the skill set and work load required to meet and exceed company goals?
Set aside an experimental budget, which should be no less than 10 percent of your total budget. Be assured - you will see a hot new vendor or identify a new trend that you didn't plan for. You may also hear of or consider a new approach worth testing based on new insights from existing programs - therefore plan for it.
The rapid shift toward more customer-central digital marketing is undeniable. There are very few brands not committed to building highly targeted, customer-centric marketing focused on improving customer experiences across channels and driving greater marketing ROI. To do that well, consider overinvestment in high-growth areas in your planning process. Those areas include:
As the dog days of summer wind down, now is the time to ramp you planning efforts up like never before. Hopefully, the tips above serve as a reminder and check list of sorts to help the process move along as smoothly and effectively as possible. Until next time - happy planning.
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Michael Della Penna is a seasoned marketing professional with a long, proven track record of launching successful marketing, branding, and sales strategies for leading public and private companies. Most recently, Michael was the senior vice president of Emerging Channels at Responsys. His responsibilities included spearheading the overall strategic direction, partnerships, and solution offering across key emerging channels including social, mobile, and display for the company. Prior to Responsys, Michael founded SuiteDialog and Conversa Marketing, a full-service email and social CRM agency that helped brands ignite conversations and cultivate relationships with customers across the social web. Conversa Marketing, was acquired by StrongMail Systems in 2010. Before branching out on his own, Michael served as chief marketing officer for Epsilon, a leading provider of multichannel, data-driven marketing services. Michael's other key marketing leadership roles include CMO at Bigfoot Interactive, vice president of strategic development at CNET Networks, Inc., and vice president of marketing at ZDNet. Michael received a B.B.A. and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University.
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