The fourth quarter is a critical time for many agencies and brands. Not only are you rushing to meet the end of year crunch, you are also planning for the next year (or at least you should be). If you aren't ready, here are seven tips to help you prepare.
1) Set goals for the following year
It's necessary to take the time to look back at your benchmarks and other targets from the past year so you can assess how things have gone. Which marketing plans succeeded? Which ones failed? Take note of what worked and integrate it into your campaigns for the coming year.
2) Start planning for the end of year now with your existing customers
People who work in retail know how crazy the fourth quarter gets, but it's not only retail that's affected. Many industries, including marketing, take strain during the fourth quarter as people rush to beat the end-of-year shutdown. To relieve some of the pressure from the final quarter, start planning with your customers in advance to help reduce some of the end of year stress.
3) Lock down your budget
At any agency, the final quarter is critical. This is when many businesses put together their marketing budgets for the following year, so you need to make sure you're addressing the needs of your existing customers, as well selling your skills to potential customers, so that you can nail down your financial plan for the upcoming year — otherwise you may find yourself in a situation where you miss the bus and are desperately chasing down leads or stuck waiting for work.
4) Ensure your marketing is consistent, even at the end of the year
Many agencies slow down during the fourth quarter. Take advantage of this by ensuring you are communicating consistently with your customers so that you can get a head start on your competition.
The advice above is aimed specifically at the fourth quarter, but there are steps you should be implementing all year around to ensure you don’t suffer in the last few months. Follow these tips to ensure your fourth quarter isn’t more difficult than it needs to be.
5) Create benchmarks
You need to ensure you gather performance data all year around so you can create benchmarks. Benchmarks are critical to gather at each quarter, but they are extremely vital in Q4 so that you can set your goals for the upcoming year.
6) Have the right team, and get it if you don’t
It doesn’t matter whether you're a CMO or CEO, you'll often find yourself sitting at your desk at the end of the day, wondering how the day flew by so quickly. You’ve handled so much in your day, and you haven't even finished the work that you needed to do. It's time to focus on the things you do best and pass responsibility for everything else onto others you can trust.
This is something you should be considering all year round, but if you feel this way during the first three quarters of the year, you’ll definitely feel it in the last quarter. If you don’t have the right talent at your agency, start looking for people who may be considering new employment opportunities in the first quarter, which is when most people switch jobs.
7) Analyse your systems and processes
Regardless of whether you're in marketing or manufacturing, you're dealing with systems and processes. Often, these aren't as efficient as they could be, and if they aren’t, the fourth quarter is when you’ll notice as the end-of-year crunch hits.
And yes, while you may be thinking "if it isn't broken, don't fix it", just because it isn't broken, doesn't mean it doesn't need a few tweaks. Take the time to assess your agency’s processes so you can identify any areas of improvement before the problems compound in the last quarter of the year.
If you haven’t yet taken steps to prepare for the fourth quarter, contact us so we can help you prepare for the end of year! You can also check out MPULL’s latest blog on succeeding in the final quarter for more information.