As Q3 winds down in the coming weeks, it’s time to look at your to-do list and prioritize those projects you want to wrap up before year end, especially if you are sitting on a surplus budget with a use-it-or-lose-it philosophy from above.
Here are 7 ideas for year-end marketing projects that not only “use it,” but also “prove it.” These projects are meant to also prove the effectiveness of your marketing efforts, one of the greatest challenges today’s inbound marketers face.
Which will you kick off for fourth quarter?
1. Media Audit
Audits can take many different forms, but all are a great way of reviewing what has been done, what the results were, and why those efforts were or weren’t effective. What you learn from an audit can then be used to set up your next year’s strategy for greater success.
A media audit provides a snapshot of your brand’s presence in business, vertical and consumer media, along with the primary messages being published. It can provide your marketing and public relations teams with benchmarks for goal-setting, as well as identifying opportunities for targeting additional topics or outlets.
Find a complete list of the data points a media audit should include in Media, Messaging & Marketing Audit Checklist. Any audit, however, should go beyond a list of data points, especially if you are enlisting the help of an outside agency. An agency audit should also include strategy recommendations for your media plans moving forward.
2. Marketing content and strategy audit
Another audit to consider as you enter the last quarter is a marketing content audit. This review should look at:
Types of content developed and used
Stages of the sales funnel included in the content strategy
Customer personas targeted with specific content
Utilization of calls-to-action and landing pages that drive lead generation.
A full audit of your marketing content can pinpoint gaps in your content variety, targeted customer personas or stages of the sales funnel, allowing you to include plans for filling those gaps with your upcoming inbound marketing campaigns.
3. Competitive messaging audit
A messaging audit should look at your own media presence and marketing content AND at the media coverage and content of your competitors. This helps you see what messages are being projected and where there may be opportunities to introduce a new message or capitalize on something no one else is talking about.
Check out one of our audit success stories: Using An Audit To Guide Communications.
4. Brand positioning audit
A brand positioning audit could be done in conjunction with a media or competitive messaging audit, since all three look into how your company is presented and perceived in the marketplace, just from slightly different perspectives.
Consider whether your current content and strategy match with the positioning you are seeking for your brand, and whether your brand’s current perception with customers and the public is the one you are targeting. The strategy recommendations you should receive as a result of a brand positioning audit should include messaging to be used by both PR and marketing, a strategy for developing content (blog, social media, contributed articles, etc.) that supports your brand position, and the specific messaging to be used in those applications.
5. Internal case studies and results reel
Sometimes it is important to sell your own success to internal audiences. CEOs and CFOs want to see the results of your marketing efforts, not just in completed content, but the ROI – customers that can trace back to specific marketing content and marketing’s share of customer acquisition costs. (Find the 6 Metrics Your Boss Actually Cares About in this free download.)
Include those metrics, plus your showcase content, in a highlight reel or presentation to use when it’s time to make your next year’s budget request. You can also present specific success stories with internal case studies that provide a road map for similar success in the future.
6. Consumer surveys and research reports
If you need source material to drive next year’s inbound marketing campaigns, now is the perfect time to complete a market survey. Consumer surveys and independent research can be used not only for internal decision making, but can also provide fodder for some of the most engaging content you will create.
Surveys have the potential to:
Gather marketing and industry data and feedback.
Create content that generates leads.
Drive brand awareness and thought leadership.
When surveys are done well, with goal-focused planning, exhaustive data analysis and a comprehensive content strategy, a single 50-question survey can yield more than 100 pieces of engaging marketing content. (Our ebook, Maximizing Marketing Surveys, will tell you how.)
7. Blog audit
Here is one more audit/critique project that can both prove your current level of performance and help you identify opportunities for greater growth: audit your business blog compared to your competitors’ blogs.
Compare traffic, topics and engagement, then use the results to plot a blog strategy focusing on the most successful formats and subjects. One result of taking on a blog audit in Q4 is that you could start the new year with a complete strategy and blog calendar in hand, ready to hit the ground rolling.
Which of these projects fits your year-end needs and resources? Which will give you the edge at budget time in proving your department’s effectiveness to the C-suite?
If none of these fit, there are six more options for using your remaining budget for 2018 so that you are less likely to lose it as 2019 rolls around. Find more on all of the options in this download: 13 Ways To Use Your End-Of-Year Budget.