Are You Ready For The New Year?


There are exactly 30 days remaining in 2015 and with the year quickly coming to a close – are you ready for 2016?

I realize the days of long term business planning are long gone. Today’s heavily fragmented media environment means consumers can demand constant on-the-go services 24/7. The smart phones and tablets have forced business leaders to be nimbler, scrappier and creative to ensure their message isn’t lost in the clutter.

Sure there’s still some forward planning involved, but we all know the concept of “annual planning” seems like something out of our college history books. However, as we look forward to the beginning of 2016 – it’s not too late to get that plan in tighter shape.

Below are five questions your plan should address to ensure you’re ready to ring in 2016:

1. What does success look like?

This is a tough question for many business leaders and marketers to answer. The idea here is to define what success for your company, team and you personally entails.  For some business executives this may mean – have a meaningful 1:1 with each employee in the company. For marketers it may be related to sales growth and establishing new clients or new sales channels. For engineers this may refer to innovation and developing new products. The fact is that defining success across your organization is a critical step in your planning efforts.

2. What are your biggest threats?

Do you understand the competitive landscape? The brands that move swiftly don’t necessarily have the biggest budgets – but they do tend to understand their competitors and what sets them apart. In some cases they are the ones willing to take a risk. Understanding your competitors can range from looking at competitive messaging, media spend or even mystery shopping to understand the experience from the consumer point of view. Without this knowledge – it becomes nearly impossible to develop winning strategies that move the needle.

3. Do you have the winning team?

The expression “you are only as strong as your weakest link” comes to mind. One of our business mentors, Brad Herrmann from Call-Em-All put it best in a recent blog; “Don’t invest in finding ways to make people stick around. Just make it easy for them to leave.” Looking ahead, do you have a plan that allows disgruntled people to leave easily? Do you have a program that rewards the “good apples” and ensures your work environment is a destination for top talent? If not, build one.

4. Do you have the right resources?

The right resources may sound similar to the winning team, but there’s a critical difference. The right resources involve providing the right tools that improve the way your team performs key functions. Whether it’s a CRM tool for sales or a project management tool for your work groups, this can be a daunting task for many leaders. This may also refer to funding for expansion, new hires or a new communications campaign. For many small businesses having the right resources may mean additional expenses. There are plenty of resources available to help you in this area. We are also lucky to live in a time where technology has made it possible for any business to have access to resources that streamline operational/communication functions. Apps like Google Apps, XERO and Capsule are a few of the ones we use.

5. Do you have it in writing?

Our team believes in the power of the written word. Besides giving you a good snapshot as to where you’re at today and where you want to go, it also gives structure for your team. Ideally you would have your direct reports heavily involved with areas of your plan and ultimately share it with team leads. You then would need to consolidate it and share a vision, plan or hurrah with your overall company. Knowing where you stand and what the possibilities are is a great way to end the year strong and more importantly begin it stronger.

If you don’t have these areas covered – it’s OKAY! At least you’re discovering this on December 1st and not December 31st. Our team specializes in helping clients answer and develop a plan for these types of questions and we would love to help you define your winning marketing/communications strategy for 2016.

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