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October 9, 2023


Dear Marketers,

It’s that time of the year again, Q4’s final stretch, characterised by a whirlwind that firmly holds us in its grasp. For many, this period represents the most crucial phase of annual marketing planning. It’s when we must simultaneously wrap up the current year’s activities and chart the course for the year ahead. The pressure can be intense, and the stakes are high.

Drawing from my own experience of being caught in this whirlwind for several years ,and insights from fellow marketers we collaborate with as an agency, I want to share some tips and tricks to help you navigate this annual planning season with poise and composure:

  1. Start Early, Stay Ahead:

Commencing your annual planning well in advance, though easier said than done, significantly reduces tension. While the full annual numbers might not be available yet, you can begin gathering the necessary data early, which will be vital for the upcoming review, strategising, and planning phases.

  1. Learn from the Past

A substantial part of this process involves analysing past marketing initiative performances to drive our brands forward. However, don’t forget to take an honest look at the outcomes of the last planning season. Identify what worked well and what didn’t. For instance, were team members adequately briefed before strategy sessions to ensure maximum participation? Building on successes and improving or discarding ineffective strategies is paramount.

  1. Strategise Cross-Functionally

Acknowledge that you can’t tackle everything alone, nor should you attempt to. Collaborate with your team and the broader organisation to secure buy-in early. Marketing plans affect the entire organisation, so involving key stakeholders upfront can significantly impact implementation. Just be sure to clarify each function’s expected outcomes before engagement, unless you want the finance team suggesting advertising campaign ideas! 😊

  1. Embrace Technology

This time of the year can lead to data overload and analysis paralysis. In the digital age, technology is your ally. Enhance efficiency by employing digital tools to gain valuable insights and ensure your strategies remain data-driven and adaptable throughout the year.

  1. Leverage Your Agency Partners

Your agency partners are invaluable during this hectic period. Don’t hesitate to reach out to them for support, creative brainstorming, and execution. They are experts in navigating the annual planning season and should provide you with valuable insights and fresh perspectives.

  1. Take Care of Your Well-Being

It’s easier said than done, but we all know that the intensity of annual planning can lead to burnout. Therefore, incorporate practical healthy practices into your routine during this time. These small steps can alleviate the mental and physical strain that often follows the planning period.

Yes, the challenges may be great, but so are the opportunities during this period. With preparation, collaboration, and a touch of tech-savvy finesse, you can transform this whirlwind into a journey of growth and accomplishment.

So, take a deep breath, embrace the journey, and here’s to your success in the year ahead!