100 Point Mid-Year Marketing Checklist

2011 is more than half over; is your marketing on track to achieve its goals? If you’re like most marketers, the summer is a good time to give your marketing a mid-year check-up so that you can adjust or fine tune your plans to meet or exceed your objectives. (Here’s the full list of 111 ways to jump start your marketing from January.)

Not sure where to start? Here are 100 points to help you evaluate your business. Even if you’ve years of experience, it’s useful to check if there’s something you’re missing especially in today’s dynamic marketplace.

Year-to-Date Analysis.

Financials. Many marketers breathe a sigh of relief that this is finance’s responsibility but I suggest that you know your way around a spreadsheet to ensure that your department’s results are properly accounted for and your expenses aren’t being wrongly charged.

  1. Have revenues grown at a top level? If not, what’s the reason?
  2. How have revenues fluctuated by campaign or promotion?
  3. How have revenues performed by product category? Where appropriate, look at specific products and pricing.
  4. What’re sales per customer contacted? How does this compare to past performance and budget?
  5. Have return rates changed? Check why this is happening. This can be an indicator that there’s a problem with your product or your marketing.
  6. Are expenses on track at a top level? If not, why? Have you deferred purchases or hiring?
  7. How have expenses performed by product category?
  8. Have product margins changed? Remember to check by category and individual product since one product can obfuscate a problem.
  9. How have agencies and other outside marketing performed against budget? Have they been required to do more to compensate for delays or empty positions?
  10. Are your media costs on track? If not, what’s the cause?
  11. Has your marketing headcount and related costs changed?
  12. What’s cost per customer contacted? How does this compare to past performance and budget?
  13. What are your top line profits? Examine this before and after corporate overhead and taxes.
  14. What’re profits per customer contacted? How does this compare to past performance and budget?
  15. How is your cash flow doing? Do you know how much money you have coming in and going out?

Marketing campaign analysis. Assess your marketing performance beyond financial indicators.

  1. How do your promotions (or campaigns) measure up against budget results and related marketing last year? What’s changed? Here’s a table for your metrics dashboard.
  2. How does your brand measure up against your standard metrics? If it’s changed what are the reasons for this?
  3. How has your market share changed? Is it increasing? Why or why not?
  4. How have your new product launches performed versus projections?
  5. How are your offline media strategies (including television, radio, newspapers, magazines and direct mail) performing? How do they compare to your budget and past results?
  6. How are your digital media strategies performing? How do they compare to your budget and past results?
  7. Specifically, how is your search marketing strategy performing? Breakout paid search, search optimization and mobile?
  8. How is your website performing? How does your traffic compare to budget and past performance? Look beyond pageviews to check time-on-site, where visitors come from and where they go to?
  9. How are your email marketing campaigns doing? Have your metrics changed significantly? Have you changed your mailing schedule? Are recipients unsubscribing or, worse, marking you as spam?
  10. Are your social media marketing efforts yielding results? If so, how do they compare to your budget and past results?
  11. How is your content marketing performing against budget and past results?
  12. How are your PR strategies performing? How do they compare to your budget and past results?
  13. How are your other marketing communications performing? How do results compare to budget and past results?
  14. Have you changed the number of promotions to increase sales versus last year? If so, has this resulted in an overall increase in revenues? Has it hurt revenue per promotion? Is the timing still on track?

Customers. Examine your customer base and housefile.

  1. How has your customer base changed in the first six months of 2011? Is it growing or stagnating? How does this compare with your 2010 end of year results?
  2. Are your prospects and/or leads continuing to grow at similar rates to the past? If not, check why.
  3. Are more steps needed to convert prospects? This can increase costs and slow your revenue stream. Has your conversion process changed in the last six months? Is it taking more or less time to go from hand raiser to customer?
  4. What proportion of your customers are new in the last month, three months, six months? Are there significant changes to these proportions? If so, examine more closely.
  5. What are you customers saying about your brands and your firm? Has this changed in the last month, three months or six months?
  6. Has customer engagement changed? Is increasing or decreasing? Is it positive or negative in sentiment?
  7. Has the sentiment of customer reviews on your site and third party sites changed?
  8. What media are supporting new customer growth? Are there new sources generating leads?
  9. Are you expanding the region your marketing reaches? In other words are you serving a broad geographic area?
  10. Do your new prospects and customers have different traits than your existing customers? If so, what impact will this have on your marketing and your marketing personas?
  11. What proportion of your customers are active? Look deeper at deciles to see how customers breakout in terms of buying behavior.
  12. What proportion of your customers haven’t bought in the last 3 months, 6 months, 9 months or a year? Have you done anything to encourage buying? Do you have tailored marketing to reactivate them?
  13. Do you have a set of poor performing customers who aren’t profitable to serve? If so, are you unmarketing them?

External factors.

Environment. Here’s where you explore what’s been happening in the world, assess how it affected your marketing and what additional impact it may have for the future.

  1. Is the economy performing as you projected? Consider local, national and international events. Think in terms of individuals’ budgets.
  2. Have there been major events at the local, national or international level that have had an impact on your business? For example, has the earthquake and tsunami in Japan or the revolution in Egypt affected your firm or your customers?
  3. Has foreign exchange had an impact on your business?
  4. Has the weather caused major issues? 2011 has been a very active weather year beyond just hurricanes. Think snow, flooding and fires.
  5. Have governmental or regulatory issues had an unforeseen impact on your business?
  6. Is your business affected by the political climate? With the 2012 campaign season already dominating the news, your business may be profiting.

Competitive landscape. This is an area that many marketers undervalue. It’s critical to be aware of what your direct competitors as well as major players in your field are doing or you can be blindsided.

  1. Have there been changes to the marketing landscape that cause a ripple effect?
  2. What’s happening on the social media ecosystem? Google+ anyone?
  3. What is the buzz about your competitors on social media platforms?
  4. What are the big players across markets doing? Think P&G, Walmart, Amazon and Starbucks.
  5. Have the major players in your arena changed in the past six months?
  6. Have the major players in your arena made any significant moves in the past six months?
  7. What have your direct competitors done in the past six months? Is this a change from what you expected them to do? How have customers reacted?
  8. Are there new or emerging competitors in your market(s)? Don’t forget to look at different geographies.

Internal Elements.

Corporate Factors. Look across your business to understand how other functions with an impact on marketing have changed.

  1. Has there been a major change in business goals or objectives? If so, why?
  2. Were any significant changes made to the top-level business plans? If so, what was the reason?
  3. Were there any major business changes such as an IPO, bankruptcy, purchase, etc.?
  4. Were there any internal changes such as a strike, warehouse closing, etc. that have an impact on marketing? If so, what were they?
  5. How are your suppliers positioned in the market?
  6. Have there been any changes among your suppliers during the past year that could affect your business?
  7. How are your distributors positioned in the market?
  8. Have there been any changes in your distribution network during the past year that could affect your business?
  9. Were there any significant management changes or reorganizations?
  10. Is your customer service area connected with your marketing department to ensure that they are aware of what’s in the pipeline?
  11. How is your customer service performing based on user feedback?
  12. Do you have sufficient technical support to achieve these goals?
  13. Do you need additional hardware, extra bandwidth, computers, and/or programmers?
  14. Are you missing specific types of expertise? Can this support be outsourced or should you hire this talent?
  15. Are you at risk of loosing key staff members?
  16. Do you have corporate social media guidelines?
  17. Do you have a crisis management plan? If not, when will you develop one? If you have one, how often do you update it?
  18. Does senior management communicate regularly? If so, how is it perceived by the public?

Rest of the year marketing. This is the time to make modifications to your end of 2011 plans to make sure that they’re on track to maximize results.

Product.

  1. Does your product mix need to be fine-tuned based on demand? If so, how will this effect your marketing and your profitability?
  2. Are there new products emerging that you need to incorporate into your mix or that will have an impact on your offering?
  3. Do you have any product gaps that need to be filled due to market and/or technology changes?

Place.

  1. Are you using every customer touch point to reach your prospects and customers?
  2. Are you leveraging your physical presence (if you have one) to merchandise your business?
  3. Are you planning to open new retail establishments?
  4. Are you planning to put your marketing in different media and/or locations?
  5. Are you planning to use new social media platforms?
  6. Are you using mobile marketing? If not, it’s time to start integrating mobile plans since you need to be ready when your customers are. (Here’s data on the US mobile market.)
  7. Are you using tablets including iPads to deliver content? (Here’s data on tablets.)
  8. Have you made any other changes to marketing channels? If so, why?

Promotion.

  1. Have you incorporated promotions to stay in front of customers for Back-to-School, Halloween and Thanksgiving? Here’s how to look at an offer.
  2. How are you planning to build your brand(s)? Are modifications needed to keep it on track?
  3. Are you expanding your digital footprint? If so, how does it relate to your existing plans?
  4. What are your offline marketing plans? Are costs still in line with your budget and acquisition forecasts?
  5. Are changes needed to your social media marketing strategy? If so what is the impact on your budget and related forecasts?
  6. Are there new platforms or marketing formats that you want to test before including them in your 2012 budget? If so, how will you incorporate the test into your remaining plans?
  7. Have you developed an editorial calendar? How do the changes in your marketing plans affect your need to create content? Who is going to create the content?
  8. Are you leveraging consumer created content? Think galleries and customer comments?
  9. Do you have customer-initiated communications and/or promotions such as welcome, purchase, and post purchase?
  10. Has your a PR strategy changed? If so, how?
  11. Have your marketing communications changed? If so, how?
  12. Are you planning any offline meetings or events?

Pricing.

  1. Has the market caused a change in your pricing?
  2. Have changes in your promotions caused related changes in your pricing? What does this mean for your budget? What do you have to do to meet your goals?
  3. Have you included sales to meet the changing holiday season?

A mid-year marketing assessment is critical to determine if your plans are on track or whether an adjustment is needed. This enables you to fine-tune your marketing for the rest of the year and lay the groundwork for your budgeting process. Further, you may have to compensate for another area of the business where there are issues and you need to make up the shortfall.

Is there anything else that you’d add to this list? If so, please include it in the comment section below.

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen


Here are some related columns that you might find useful.

Photo credit: Florian via Flickr

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  • http://www.gfwebsoft.com Glenn

    Wow. Comprehensive ! Would take me a few pots of coffee to meaningfully work through this but it also makes a great annual pre-strategic planning punchlist.

  • Leo

    Thanks for the list – incredibly comprehensive and well considered. Marketing is instrumental to a successful business and it astounds me that many companies don’t dedicate themselves to ensuring that they properly manage their marketing campaigns. I’ve found that many companies can yield massive dividends from even the most rudimentary of marketing endeavours such as using promotional products – such as branded pens, t-shirts and clothing. It’s a simple trick but one that remains incredibly effective to this day.

  • http://takepart.com Sayo Martin

    This list is fantastic. This will definitely help me refine my strategic plan.

  • Jared Bernotski

    Hi, I wondered if I could re-use the “Check-up” image in an educational text. Do you happen to know where the original image came from? I couldn’t find it, and I’m trying to do proper citations. Thanks!