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

When you’re playing “Q4 Marketing Whack-A-Mole” — scrambling to tactically execute and make year-end numbers — it’s challenging to sit back and strategically contemplate how to optimize your marketing for 2023.

Then you remember how long ago Q1 2022 feels. And how quickly the days and weeks are speeding by, confounding your efforts to get timely efforts in market NOW!

And — oh no — January 1 is coming fast! If only there were a quick, neat way to ignore the “squirrels” just for a bit, and focus on getting a couple of your ducks in a row and get ready for a great new year.

Maybe you’ve seen this T-shirt design, available on Zazzle, Etsy shops, and others.

The challenge is especially acute for many of our clients working in 65+ health care. For both Medicare insurers and primary care providers working with Medicare Advantage, it’s hard to look past the crunch of each fall’s AEP. An article written to help financial advisors market their practice — “Start Planning your 2023 Marketing Strategy Now.” — caught my eye and got some wheels turning. And the insights there turned into a practical set of Response Marketing to-do’s you can put to work — today.

The 1-Week, 15-Minute-Per-Day Plan To Get A Jump On 2023: Starting Now!

A proven management principle is when you need to tackle a big goal, you break it down into smaller pieces. It makes taking that first step to completing the proverbial journey of 1,000 miles, easy-peasy.

Who’s got time to figure out a full game plan for the coming year? No one. But finding 15 minutes a day, at lunch even, to jot down a few points that come to mind? Can do! So here we go, starting with the first day of the week:

A proven management principle is when you need to tackle a big goal, you break it down into smaller pieces.

1. Monday: Assess Your 2023 Goals. It’s critical to start with pertinent goals and objectives in mind. Some questions to springboard your thinking in this first step:

  • What do you hope, or need, to accomplish next year?
  • How have your objectives changed year-over-year?
  • What worked, what didn’t in 2022?
  • What “kinda worked” but can use tweaking or dialing up?
  • What shortcomings were exposed, and lessons learned?

Getting some of this down in writing, even in 15 or 20 minutes of reflection is invaluable to help crystalize and focus all of your thinking in the next steps.

2. Tuesday: Identify What’s New & Different in Your Marketing Mix. Next, use a coffee break to capture some topline items across your programs. Ask yourself:

  • Any new competitors in the mix?
  • Shifts in your marketing/selling partners, care network, or distribution channel?
  • Product innovations: yours or theirs? Achieved or daydreamed?
  • Surprises (up or down) in response rates and sales in recent months?
  • Shifts in consumer trends, attitudes, habits … or trends in your industry?
  • Regulatory and/or compliance changes (either at CMS, or internal)?
  • Any offers or events you promoted that were booms, or busts?

Having a handle on these aspects is needed as you go into “hump day” …

Your 2023 marketing activity probably shouldn’t be a rubber stamp of 2022.

3. Wednesday: Prioritize Marketing Efforts. Now you’ve got a few goals and objectives rising to the top. And a trend, an insight or two that pop out. That’s a start on where to place your “chips” for the coming year to get more bang for your 2023 marketing bucks.

  • Which programs, marketing/communication channels or tactics promise larger payouts?
  • Any of the usual go-to’s looking like lower-percentage plays going forward?
  • Are you hearing of any corporate goals or initiatives that may impact your area?
  • Objectives requiring more from your area? More empirical results and metrics?

At this point, you’ll likely see some filtering criteria for acquisition efforts firming up in your mind as you write down this initial back-of-napkin analysis. But don’t stop with prospects …

4. Thursday: Marketing to Current Customers, Members, Clients. Most often, acquisition rules the roost. Even when commiserating over the dreaded “leaking bucket” paradigm, most of the budget inevitably goes to getting new sales in the door. It’s natural, as the media expense is greater to reach out. Of course, that’s also true for your competitors, who are out to steal your members and market share!

Meaning: your retention initiatives need to be smarter; more focused; more efficient in coming months. That takes some thought time, and now’s the time to start thinking!

  • If your brand were a chess player, what are the weaknesses in your position?
  • Where is the competition most likely to strike against you?
  • What messages will your member/customers be susceptible to?
  • Are there product holes you need to plug or counter-messages you need to craft?
  • Any strengths you can shore up and promote to reinforce your side?

While email, social, and digital targeting can give you cost-efficient media channels … it’s the thoughtful, impactful messaging that may be most important to give your marketing a valuable boost here.

5. Friday: Refine Your Messaging and Processes. The last couple of years have demonstrated the next 12 months are likely not going to be a clone of the 12 months prior. So, your 2023 marketing activity probably shouldn’t be a rubber stamp of 2022.

Let’s look at where the first 4 steps above have taken you … goals, emerging trends, what worked and didn’t, the needs of different target audiences. What do you see needing to happen?

  • Do you need to scrap what you did last year? In total, or in a specific channel or product area?
  • Should dollars move from one area to another?
  • Can you identify 3 specific tweaks and adjustments to make?
  • Is there a challenge or opportunity that cries out for a truly big idea?
  • Do you need to do some brainstorming about an opportunity?

That last item brings us to a great resource to move past this 5-day approach: tapping into your colleagues!

First, you may want to give your work above a second go-around. Look back over your lists and notes. Chances are, you’ll see places to expand or revise your initial thinking in another round of 15-minute time slots. Then, take a deep breath and invite colleagues into the process and share your thoughts.

Bonus Round #6 — Share the Burden! This is the best way to overcome the “I don’t have enough time to do this” hurdle, and the “I can’t think of anything else” pitfall. Whether your title is Manager, Director, or Coordinator, you’re judged by getting things done. That doesn’t always mean doing all the work yourself!

Even if you can’t authoritatively delegate your 2023 planning initiative, you can open the door and encourage others to chime in and assist.

In real life, we can’t usually get others to “paint the fence” for us. But you certainly can draw them in to help ease your task.

Share your first-blush thinking with colleagues. With the above 5-step exercise under your belt, you’re just asking for them to react … not expecting them to start from a blank sheet.

At the very least, experience says people are often quite happy to tell you where you may be going wrong, or give you the infamous “yes, but …” And that’s better than okay — it’s great!

Take any feedback you get and factor it in. Adjust your rough draft ideas, and/or prepare a defense of how and why your ideas overcome the objections that surface. Look at the comments you get as advice, suggestions, or even half-baked asides.

Regardless, you can use it all to polish up your ideas, conclusions, and rationales before you share with “the powers that be” (aka, upper management).

And now what?

You’ve got some concrete notes, at least. Perhaps some insights. An idea or two. Maybe just a lot of questions. Regardless, you’re ahead of the game, with a number of thoughtful places to kick off a discussion with your colleagues, supervisor, or staff … or with your ad agency.

Many winning marketing programs that DMW has launched for clients spawned from a conversation that began as, “You know, I’ve been thinking and started wondering how I might … [you fill in the blank].”

Got an idea, train of thought, or marketing challenge you’d like to bounce around?

Maybe you’re ready to delegate a project to an outside resource. Whatever you have in mind, DMW is here to help. Contact us for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.

For planning, implementing, executing, or just doing some “blue sky” thinking, we’re ready to help inspire direct results for your 2023 marketing efforts.