For those of you out there who plan based on a calendar year, take note that you are now two thirds of the way through the first quarter. It's a good time to ask the following questions about your plan:
- Is the plan progressing as you expected? You start the year with a set of assumptions, and most of the way through your first quarter, you should probably check to make sure those assumptions are still valid.
- Are you spending at the right pace? This is one of the areas that concerned me the most as a marketing leader. Are your marketing managers putting your budget to work to achieve the objectives, or are they going to be playing "catch up" in the last month of the quarter?
- Is your plan and budget approved? I can't tell you how many times I've gone several months into a plan year without an approved plan. This can be paralyzing for the team because you need to get special approvals to spend without an approved plan, and it can lead to slower progress, and poor results. If you aren't in an approved state, make sure you are driving the plan process much earlier next year.
- Are there any pleasant surprises? Now is a good time to look for those efforts that are delivering better-than-expected results. If you find them early, doubling-down on the investments will accrue more benefit in the plan year.
- What has changed in your world? Has there been a competitive change? Overall market or econcomic changes? Lookings for those changes and adjusting will make you more effective.
As discussed in an earlier blog post, Is your marketing plan a paper map or a GPS?, a nimble plan that allows you to re-route when conditions change will help you make the adjustments you deem necessary based on your inspection of the plan.