Is Your Marketing On Track To Succeed?
We’re half way through the year.
Is your marketing is on track to achieve its year-end goals?
Not a question you want to answer?
Then give your marketing a mid-year check-up. The summer is a great time to assess your marketing performance to-date. It gets you on track to build a realistic budget.
This way you can find any gaps or issues. Then refine your second-half plans to meet or exceed your objectives.
Not sure where to start?
We’ve got you covered. Use this Mid-Year Marketing Checklist to evaluate your business.
Even if you have years of experience, this mid-year marketing checklist ensures you don’t miss something in today’s dynamic marketplace.
Mid-Year Marketing Checklist
Go through this mid-year marketing checklist step by step. Skip those items that don’t apply to your business.
To understand your performance to-date, I recommend you compare your results to last year’s results. This shows you how the market or your customers have changed. By contrast, budget numbers aren’t based on actual results.
Most marketers hate dealing with financials and numbers in general. (I should know. I taught graduate level Finance For Marketers. No one took my course voluntarily!!!)
At a minimum, know your way around a spreadsheet. To achieve your business objectives, make sure your results are properly captured and reported. Also, monitor your expenses.
- Did revenues grow at a top level? If not, what’s the reason?
- Did revenues fluctuate by campaign or promotion? If so, which promotions didn’t work? Why? Are they tired?
- How did revenues perform by product category? Examine specific products and pricing. Determine where problems are and fix them.
- What are the sales per customer? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- Are expenses on track at a top level? If not, why? Have you deferred purchases or hiring?
- How did expenses perform by product category? Check costs by product and pricing. Do specific products have problems? If so, what are they?
- Have return rates changed? Check by product and customer segment. Determine if there’s a problem with your product or marketing.
- What is your cost per customer? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- How have agencies and other outside marketing performed against budget? Did they have to make up for your delays or unfilled jobs?
- Are media costs on track? Are there specific media that cost more or yielded lower returns?
- Has marketing headcount and related costs changed? Compare this to past performance and budget.
Other key financial indicators
- Have product margins changed? Check by product category and individual products. One high performing product can obscure several weak ones.
- What are your profits before taxes and corporate overhead?
- What are the profits per customer contacted? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- How is your cash flow? Do you know how much money comes in and goes out?
- Has your headcount changed? Have you lost company knowledge or specific talents you need?
Discover any gaps or issues. Then fix them. (BTW, at Bertelsmann, I learned the hard way that the worst problems are usually beyond your control. Therefore, maximize every promotional opportunity.)
- Has your market share changed? What’s the cause? Is this your business category or just your firm?
- How did your marketing promotions perform? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- Have you changed the number or type of promotions versus last year? If so, what was the impact on your revenue per promotion?
- Did you launch new products? If so, how did they perform compared to past launches and your projections?
Ensure that your brand is consistently portrayed across products and platforms. You must make your brand stand out.
- How does your brand compare to your standard metrics? Has it changed? If so, why?
- Do you have brand standards? If not, assign someone to create them.
- What are customers saying about your brand and your firm? Has this changed in the last month, 3 months or the last 6 months?
This is the media that you own and control. It’s generally cheaper to use but tends to have more limited reach.
- How is your website performing? Go beyond pageviews. What is the time-on-site, where visitors come from, and where they go on your site? Have you made any changes? What are you testing?
- How is your blog performing compared to last year? Do you have an on-going editorial calendar? Does your blog have the resources needed?
- How do your email marketing campaigns perform? Have your metrics changed? Has your mail schedule changed? Are recipients unsubscribing or, worse, marking your email as spam?
- How are your customer communications performing?
- Is there anything you can do to make your physical location more conducive to buyers? Are visitors sharing information about it on social media?
- Do you have a documented content strategy? Do you have a documented content marketing mission? Do you have an editorial calendar for your content marketing?
- How is your content marketing performing? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- Have you audited your content in the last 6 months? If not, this is a good time to schedule one.
Social media marketing
Social media marketing encompasses the marketing related to social media platforms. This includes content marketing distribution. (BTW: If you’re interested, here are 5 social media trends for 2016.)
- Are your social media marketing efforts yielding results? Compare this to past performance and budget. Which social media platforms are you focusing on? Is your content tailored to specific social media platforms? Don’t forget to create social media personas.
- Do you have corporate social media guidelines? If not, assign resources to create them.
- Do your employees support your social media efforts? Do they share your content with their networks? Do they help create content?
- Has customer engagement changed? Is the sentiment positive or negative? Has the sentiment of customer reviews on your sites and third party sites changed?
- Are you using social media advertising? Compare this to past performance and budget.
Third party media
This includes all media that is NOT owned or social media. It can be online or offline.
- How are your digital media strategies performing? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- How is your search marketing strategy performing? Breakout paid search, search optimization and mobile. Compare this to past performance and budget. Are you testing voice and visual search? Do you rank on relevant search alternatives like Amazon and YouTube?
- How are your offline media strategies (including television, radio, newspapers, magazines and direct mail) performing? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- How are your PR strategies performing? Compare this to past performance and budget.
- Do you have a crisis management plan? If not, schedule the development of one now.
- Do you have an influencer program? (Note: Influencer programs may be categorized depending on your firm.) If so, how is it performing?
Your customer base is key to the health of your business. Content Marketing Institute’s Joe Pulizzi laser-focuses on email registrations. It’s not about having the biggest list. Rather you need a healthy list!
- Has your customer base changed in the last 6 months?
- What proportion of your housefile is new in the last month, 3 months and 6 months? Are there significant changes in these proportions? If so, why?
- Are you proactively acquiring new prospects? Are your prospects and/or leads growing at similar rates to last year? If not, what has changed?
- Are more steps needed to convert prospects? This can increase costs and reduce conversions. Has your conversion process changed in the last 6 months? Does it take more time to go from hand raiser to customer?
- Are you using marketing automation? If so, is it providing the results you expected? If not, how can you improve them?
- Which media entities support prospect and customer growth? Are you testing new sources?
- Are you expanding the regions or categories your marketing reaches
- Do your new prospects and customers have the same traits as your existing customers? If not, what impact will this have on your marketing? Do you need new marketing personas?
- Are all of your current customers active? Specifically what proportion of your customer base has purchased in the last 3 months, 6 months and year? Examine customer deciles to see how they rank in terms of buying behavior.
- What proportion of your customer base hasn’t purchased in the last 3 months, 6 months, 9 months or a year? (Of course this depends on your buying cycle. B2B sales take longer.) What can you do to encourage buying? Do you have a marketing reactivation plan?
- Do you continue to service customers who aren’t profitable? If so, are you unmarketing them or, at least, removing them from your house file.
Political, financial and technical events have an impact on your business regardless of its size. In 2016, this means the US Presidential Election and Brexit.
- Is the economy performing as you projected? Consider local, national and international events. Consider your customers’ personal budgets.
- Have major events at the local, national or international level had an impact on your business?
- Has foreign exchangehad an impact on your business?
- Has the weather caused major issues? Global warming is real. What changes are occurring in your service area.
- Have governmental or regulatory issues had an unforeseen impact on your business? Can you change your marketing to reduce the impact?
Many marketers tend to be myopic when it comes to their competitors. Assess your direct competitors and major players. Otherwise you may be blindsided. (BTW, here are 7 competitors every business has.)
- What have your direct competitors done in the past 6 months? Is this a change from what you expected them to do? How did customers react?
- Have the major players in your arena changed in the past 6 months? If so, why?
- Have the major players in your arena made any significant moves (such as expansion or purchase) in the past 6 months? Do you need to respond to them?
- What are the big players across markets doing? Think P&G, Walmart, Amazon, Apple and Google.
- Are there new or emerging competitors in your market(s)? Look at different geographies.
- What are your competitors doing on social media? Which platforms do they use? Is there anything you or they aren’t doing? Are there new options prospects and customers are using?
Look across your business to understand how other functions within your firm affect your marketing.
- Were any significant changes made to the top-level business plans or goals? Include IPO, bankruptcy or purchase. If so, how does it affect your marketing?
- Were there any internal changes (like a strike or warehouse closing)? If so, how does it affect your marketing?
- Were any significant management changes or reorganizations made? If so, how does this affect your marketing? Does senior management communicate regularly? If so, how is it perceived by the public, your customers and your employees?
- How does your sales team work with your marketing team? Do they meet regularly?
- Is your customer service connected with your marketing? How is your customer service performing based on user feedback?
- Do you have sufficient technical support to achieve your marketing goals?
- Do you need additional hardware, bandwidth and/or technical support?
Assess how your suppliers are doing. Where possible use a diverse group of suppliers. You don’t want to be dependent on 1 company.
- How are your suppliers positioned in the market? Do your suppliers also service your competitors?
- Have there been any changes among your suppliers during the past 6 months that may affect your business? Are you dependent on certain suppliers? Do you use a variety of suppliers?
Assess how your distributors are doing. Where possible use a diverse set of distributors. You want to diversify your risk.
- How are your distributors positioned in the market? Do your distributors also service your competitors?
- Were there any changes in your distribution network in the past 6 months that may affect your business?
The mid-year marketing assessment bottom line
A mid-year marketing assessment is important to keep your business on track. This is especially true for companies that depend on fourth quarter results. A falloff in the first half of the year may bode poorly for the rest of the year.
Determine if your marketing plans need to be adjusted. You may have to compensate for an area of the business that has issues.
This mid-year marketing assessment lays the groundwork for your budgeting process.
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Photo Credit: Redd Angelo via https://unsplash.com/photos/zzJmsPVg-9g
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on August 1, 2011 and updated on June 28, 2016.