Independence Day is already in the rearview mirror, and hopefully, you’ve had the opportunity to enjoy a little R&R. But, let’s not forget that July also marks the start of Q3, which is, without question, one of the most opportunity-rich quarters of the business cycle. What you accomplish over the new few months can significantly impact results for the year as a whole, so put the cap back on the sunscreen for just a minute, keep reading, and make sure these critical tasks are on your Must-Do List for Q3:

1. Take a health check. Over time, all marketing strategies prove their strengths . . . and all marketing strategies expose their weaknesses. Perform a thorough –and honest –assessment of your initiatives and how your team is executing them. Keep what’s working. Tweak (or scrap) what isn’t. Your objective, as always, should be growth. Which areas of the business are holding you back? Once you’ve identified what’s dragging you down, make the necessary adjustments. It’s never too late to be a change agent.

2. Lean into the market. Most companies have their largest quarters in the second half of the year. Why not start on that kind of trajectory today? Define your market relevancy. Assess the current status of your product/service. Are you doing everything possible to respond to customer needs? Are you sure you know what these customer needs are? Q3 is the perfect time to re-examine the market and establish plans for mid- and long-term growth and success. What can you do to improve the customer experience?

3. Make sure your team is aligned behind metrics. I’ve seen too many CMOs drown in the sea of business intelligence applications currently available. Here’s my suggestion: KISS. Keep It Simple, Sally. Sure, newer engagement metrics, such as opens, clicks, shares, etc., are essential, but rows of numbers unattached to actionable insights tell only a part of the story. The bigger picture needs your attention, as well, and you must be tracking the contribution to pipeline and revenue –that’s the only way you’ll be able to determine ROI and provide the accountability the C-suite now demands.

4. Take the CIO to lunch. Marketing is now a fundamental driver of IT purchasing, and it’s time for CMOs and CIOs to start forging true, strategic partnerships. Make it a priority to get together with IT to talk about how you can start integrating data, marketing technologies and processes to improve the customer journey and deliver results.

5. Inspire. Marketing, which in most companies represents the largest indirect, variable spend, is at the epicenter of today’s shifting business landscape. That means today’s CMOs must be leaders, fearlessly embracing change and driving towards data-driven, customer-centric campaigns that span the omnichannel. But, how can you inspire your team to achieve new goals when everyone is already operating at full-tilt? Know where to say “no.” Prioritize. Aligning behind metrics (as above) will help keep you on track. In addition, as you proceed into the second half of the year, make a commitment to better assess when you need to be a linebacker and when you need to be a coach. There’s a fine line between knocking down roadblocks and disempowering; your team needs you to recognize the difference.

Are you ready to start taking advantage of all the opportunities Q3 offers? I know the summer months are valuable for reconnecting with family and friends away from the office –I’m certainly not disputing that. The key is to find balance. Realize that Q3 is also your chance to reconnoiter and set a course for profitable growth as you close out the year.

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/courtneyrian/5750960959/