News and views to improve the strength and vigor of all your direct response marketing activity.

In first quarter, many companies are entering planning season. There are a number of critical to-do’s to consider to plan for ASAP to not only assure this year’s success, but set up track to inform your efforts in years to come. Fall and winter are advertising-heavy seasons for many diverse verticals including insurance, healthcare, and retail verticals.

One thing they all have in common is that there is a small window of opportunity to get maximum results. Her are three steps to consider now — today — to help make sure you reap optimal success when that critical window to “make hay” opens.

#1 Planning — Setting Up Your Success Sooner Than Later

Before you can charge forward, it is helpful to reexamine the big picture. This evaluation should be as broad as your wider organization goals and objectives and as narrow as recent campaign performance. Top things to think about in your planning phase:

  • Do you have the right data to inform future decisions? (For example, a complete set of hard numbers across all program aspects: product and service sales, customer segments, prospects, sales channels, etc.)
  • Are your questions and goals clearly defined? Do you know exactly what you want to achieve?
  • Is there organizational alignment? (For example, is Marketing promoting what Sales is selling?)
  • Have test scenarios been outlined to continually optimize results?
  • Are you truly differentiating yourself from the competition: in your consumer’s mind?
  • When you develop creative, are you being mindful of all the ways messaging may be used (e.g., TV, online video, blog posts, infomercials, etc.)?

Your most important question: Do all your answers revolve around the consumer? If the answer is “Yes” across the board, you’re in good shape to move forward with your planning. If the answer to any of these questions is “No,” “Kinda” or “Maybe,” then stop! Evaluate why and try to resolve it. Because if your activities are not customer-centric, then why are you doing them?

#2 Execution — Getting It Done Right

If your planning was successful, you can set your sites on execution. Top things to think about during the execution phase:

  • Have you defined what you’re testing so that you can deploy and track to get statistically relevant results?
  • Is the creative complementary? For example, does the email have commonalities with the radio spot and social posts? This applies to language and phrasing, as well as brand standards and imagery.
  • Is everything set up to track properly (e.g., URLs, phone numbers, tracking tags, creative, etc.)?
  • Have you outlined reporting so expectations are set on all ends?
  • Is there organizational alignment on KPIs, reporting formats, and what you’re hoping to learn in order to make both short- and long-term improvements?

As you can see, tracking and measurement are integral to your success. Tracking the right details will enable you to monitor your progress, make mid-campaign adjustments, and review upon completion so that you’re ready to do it all again next time.

#3 Communication — Sharing Along the Way Is Critical to Success

You’ve planned the work, and worked the plan. Congratulations ... but you’re not done yet! Make sure you are in constant communication with both your internal and external teams as the campaign is underway. Ensure that everyone is on (and stays on) the same train from the beginning of the season all the way through to the wrap up.

Not sure where to start? Begin with your partners, agencies, and vendors. No matter what vertical you work in, your agencies, partners, and vendors are there to help you be successful. Everyone has skin in the game and wants to produce the best plan, creative, and results.