We might still be closing the book on 2017, but in the world of marketing, it’s time to get started with 2018 so that your business can hit the ground running from day one of the new year.

Getting started now allows you to take advantage of the relative quiet of December and, more importantly, lay the groundwork for early January activities so that you can start off 2018 with a full funnel and keep that funnel flowing all year long.

2018 Marketing Success: The Clock Starts Now

In November you may have created a marketing wishlist for the new year, but now it’s time to make those ideas a reality. With a matter of weeks until 2018, you need to develop a firm plan for 2018 marketing success. That includes setting your strategy, making sure you have everything you need to bring that strategy to life and starting to implement the early stages of it all.

More specifically, what exactly do you need to do now to set yourself up for 2018 marketing success? Start here:

  1. Document your goals, strategies and KPIs: Start at the very top by setting your goals (e.g. improve lead gen, increase brand awareness, etc.) and outlining your strategies to achieve those goals. As you do so, make sure to bake in KPIs as well, that way you have a clear vision of what success looks like and how you will measure it. Perhaps most importantly, document all of this so that you can refer back to it throughout the year and keep your team aligned.
  2. Take stock of your technology: Once you outline what it is you want to achieve and how you plan to achieve it, you need to make sure you have the right technology in place to do so. Specifically, you should confirm that you have all the platforms you need, that those platforms are integrated appropriately and that you have the right team in place to manage it all. If you find that you’re lacking in any of those areas, develop a plan to fill that gap sooner rather than later.
  3. Capture a baseline of 2017 performance: As you gear up for 2018 marketing success, you’ll need to know what you did in 2017 in order to compare results and understand any improvements in your performance. Of course the key to doing so lies in the data, and you’re best off capturing 2017 data now so that you can use those numbers as a baseline against which to measure your progress in 2018.
  4. Revisit your channel and content mix: Based on your plan for 2018 and your performance in 2017, ask yourself whether you have the right channel and content mix to drive success in the new year. Specifically, make sure that you’re on the right channels and producing the right types of content based on where your customers are and what they want. On the flip side, confirm that you’re not wasting time and effort on channels and types of content that aren’t paying off.
  5. Get a handle on your target audience: Next, it’s important to make sure that you have a good handle on who your target audience is and what their goals are for 2018. To do so, talk to your sales and customer service teams, do some research on 2018 trends and priorities for your target roles and industries and — most importantly — reach out to your customers directly. All of these efforts should help you create buyer personas or update existing ones for the new year.
  6. Do a content audit: What content do you need to develop to bring your 2018 marketing plan to life? The best way to find out is to do a content audit that looks at what content you have for different personas and buyer’s journey stages, that way you have a clear picture of where you’re strong and where you have gaps. As part of this audit, you should also take a look at what content you have that might be outdated and should be updated or retired.
  7. Tidy up your marketing automation program: Every marketing automation program needs housekeeping once in awhile, and what better time to take on those activities than the start of a new year? To set up your program for 2018 marketing success, you might do things like clean up your database, run an email template refresh, give your landing pages a facelift and/or make sure your lead scoring is in order.
  8. Tighten up your processes: As you begin to map out tactics to bring your 2018 marketing strategy to life, don’t forget to evaluate the processes you’ll use to do so. Specifically, make sure that you have hand-offs within your team and with sales ironed out and that you’re taking advantage of opportunities to automate workflows as it makes sense.
  9. Read up on the top trends for 2018: We now live in a fast-changing world, and marketing trends are no exception. Make sure you’re up to date on the top trends for 2018, because those trends turn into necessities very quickly. For example, remember when B2B video marketing, mobile marketing and influencer marketing were new to the game? They’re now must-haves, and those who weren’t paying attention early on were forced to play catch-up. In general, it pays to carve out time to attend webinars, read blog posts like this one, etc. so that you can stay up to date on everything going on and continue to hone your skills as a marketer.
  10. Plan for regular improvements: Finally, in addition to improving your own skills, you should also have a plan to regularly improve your marketing campaigns. This plan should include monthly and quarterly campaign performance reviews as well as reminders to test new efforts (both big and small).

Bring on the New Year!

The bar for marketing success will no doubt be high in 2018, but with the proper planning and resources, every team can come out of the gate swinging. It’s all a matter of preparing now, when you have the time to step back and get some perspective, so that you can develop a clear strategy and goals and ensure you have everything you need to execute in the year ahead.