What did you do this year that worked?

What did you do this year that did not work?

What are your goals for next year?

Those are the three questions that you need to ask yourself before starting to put together your marketing budget for next year. And you need not only to ask them, you need to have the answers. If you don’t, then you need to set out to find them.

Create a list of everything you did in 2014. Try to include everything on that list, from where you advertised and how much you spent, to changes in strategy, design, messaging, pricing, etc.

Once you have a full list, do your best to define the results, both positive and negative, for each item on the list. Was the advertising effective? What was the return on investment? Did changes in strategy lead to increased sales or more traffic to the site?

Now you have a full list of what you did in 2014. You know to some degree what worked and what didn’t (and the more accurate your analysis, the better you’ll be able to plan for 2015). Next you need to write down your goals for 2015 – revenue and sales targets, and the initiatives you think will get you there.

You’ve now answered all three questions above. It’s time to start on 2015.

  1. Get rid of all activities that did not work in 2015. Rather than trying to find ways to tweak them to make them work, I recommend wiping them out completely so that you can focus on those activities that did work.
  2. Find ways to grow the activities that did work. Maybe there was a particular advertising channel that outperformed all the rest. Can you grow it by spending more and still achieve those stellar results? Take the money you saved on the things that didn’t work and spend it on things that did. You are essentially doubling down on your winners.
  3. Finally, add in those new activities that you believe will have the biggest measurable impact. Prioritize those things that will have the most immediate impact, because if you’re able to hit or exceed your goals early in the year, you’ll have more room to test new, riskier activities later in the year.

Your marketing plan is built. The next step is to get input from other members on your team. Present it to them, along with the goals for the year, in a clear and easy-to-understand way. Get input, and revise where needed.

And you’re ready to go! Good luck to all marketers in 2015, except all those competing with me directly of course