One essential characteristic of a marketing plan is flexibility: having room in the process for testing, failure, change and improvement. The key to maximizing the benefit of this flexibility is a dedication to monitoring and measurement.
A midyear evaluation provides the forum for everyone involved to present his or her accomplishments to date, understand the success of the original plan and determine whether it is best to stay the course or change direction for the remainder of the year.
Everyone on Board
Please note that this isn’t a regular marketing meeting. The midyear marketing evaluation should be a priority for the company and include everyone from the top down, including the CEO, each member of the executive team that had to buy-in or sign-off on the plan from the beginning of the year, as well as representatives from sales, business development and outside marketing consultants.
This is an evaluation of marketing efforts in an attempt to understand if the strategies and initiatives are on track to meet the goals and objectives of the business and, as such, requires all those who help execute or who are impacted to attend.
A half-day, offsite meeting will focus the team, underscore the importance of this exercise and ensure that you have committed the time necessary to explore what you’ve learned from the first half of the year and recommit to a more successful latter half. The agenda for the meeting should include an honest assessment of your marketing efforts and an unbiased appraisal of the results you have garnered versus the success measurements you put in place. Be prepared to refine the marketing plan as deemed appropriate by those in attendance.
The success of this process will be anchored in the team’s ability to be brutally honest about the success of each initiative you review: did it meet your benchmark for success and what factors supported or undermined the success of the specific tactic? You will want to ensure that your discussion includes both an internal as well as external focus.
Did the allocation of your resources impact the success of your strategies and tactics? Are your current vendors delivering on the objectives you set for them? Are your resources aligned correctly? Do you need to further supplement your team with outside help to meet the year’s goals? Are you accomplishing everything by deadline or did you overshoot and compromise your team’s success?
Do you have the bandwidth to take on new initiatives and execute them successfully?
And looking outward, what have you learned about your customer? In the development of your original plan, you defined your target market and set forth messaging and tactics that you felt would resonate with them. Take this time to explore whether you were correct: Is your messaging connecting with your target consumers? What campaigns have worked and why? What have your competitors done that resonated with key markets? All of this information can be utilized to further hone your message, redirect your efforts or, in an extreme case, redefine your target market.
Your schedule should also allow time to celebrate achievements, refocus on strategic business goals, remind the team of items that may have fallen off the radar and address new opportunities and threats. By the end of the meeting, you should be able to cut your least-performing marketing activities, adjust moderately performing activities, double down on your best and determine what new initiatives you may want to take on.
By taking the time and effort to hold a midyear evaluation, you improve the effectiveness of your marketing strategy, ensure that all activities are supporting overall business objectives and expand corporate visibility of marketing’s impact on overall business success.