Each year when the calendar turns to the fourth quarter, budgets move even higher up everyone’s priority list. How are we tracking against this year’s budget? What is the plan for next year?
Sometimes we are more efficient than we anticipated, or maybe we had tactics throughout the year that got nixed or shifted in scope. For whatever reason, some years we find ourselves headed into Q4 with budget surplus. Understandably, some companies are looking at the economic environment and pocketing any savings they can find. There are ways, though, to spend your dollars before the end of the year while providing long-term, strategic value.
1. Crisis planning and media training.
2. Social media audit.
3. SEO audit.
4. Review DEI progress.
1. Crisis planning and media training
You can read all about why media training is important in this Forbes piece; but, to paraphrase Benjamin Franklin, when you don’t prepare, you are preparing to fail. When you get that call from the media to let your brand shine or find yourself in a crisis, it is too late to figure out how to do what is best for you and your brand. And that adage goes far beyond media training. Crisis planning is another important piece of any business plan, and a crisis plan should be updated at least annually. Especially for Alaska’s many seasonal businesses, winter is the perfect time to focus on this vital planning.
2. Social media audit
Social media is already one of the most critical pieces of any brand’s marketing strategy, and somehow its influence in consumer decision making continues to grow. To make sure your social media accounts are providing optimal support for your brand, it is necessary to do a deep dive into the data every once and a while. From a better understanding of your audience demographics to exactly what kind of content performs best on each channel, an audit will provide a clear picture of what to focus on moving forward.
3. SEO audit
The same goes for your website. Having regular search engine optimization audits can be the difference in ranking near the top of Google search results and not ranking at all. It is so much more technical than just knowing what your customers are looking for. It can be as simple as people searching for “vacations in Alaska” not “Alaska vacations,” and not knowing those little nuances will cost you website traffic and dollars. Dive into this and more 101 info in this T&C blog all about SEO and keywords.
4. Review DEI progress
Internal check ins are also important, and the end of the year can be a good time to review important diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives and ensure they are priorities for the year ahead. If you haven’t put together a plan to actively promote inclusivity, it is never too late to dig in and do the work. Not sure where to start or how to keep the momentum going? There are plenty of resources available! There are a lot of valuable tips to unpack from this webinar featuring DEI specialists Hyphens and Spaces. At T&C, The Open Doors Initiative offers an internal agency team as well as a council of community members to provide strategic counsel and ensure messaging is inclusive of complete populations. Looking for ways to get your employees engaged in DEI? Check out this blog from Dr. Nika White.
No matter what you’re planning for 2023, there is one key element to any strategic effort: research. Maybe it’s designing a survey for employees to find out what motivates them or maybe you need in-depth focus groups to dive into a complicated issue, but understanding obstacles is critical to overcoming them. Whether developing surveys or holding focus groups, there is still time in 2022 to get the answers you need to inform your marketing strategies for next year.
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Another idea? Invest it in your people. Bonuses, activities to boost company culture, professional development opportunities — these are always appreciated. And they can be even more valuable at a time when retention and hiring are tough.