Yesterday, November 4, was the 2018 New York City marathon. Although I didn’t run in this year’s race (I’m currently training to run the Philly marathon in a couple weeks), I ran the NYC marathon back in 2015.
I went through my old notes from the time, and I had 3 major takeaways from my training and race experience. There are a lot of similarities between training for a marathon and growing a successful business. These takeaways that are sure to help as you create your marketing plan for next year.
1. Before You Look Ahead, Reflect on the Past
After that marathon I was pretty disappointed because I didn’t accomplish my goal time. My first reaction was to sweep the failure under the rug and try to forget about it as quickly as possible. In other words, I wanted to move forward without taking time to reflect on what had just happened.
You may have that same reaction when things don’t go as planned with your marketing campaigns. Maybe an ad campaign didn’t work, or your SEO traffic plummeted, or an email marketing campaign didn’t generate any sales. Whatever the case, it’s much easier to look ahead and get excited about a new project than to relive your failures.
But if you want to improve, then you must resist this urge! As we approach the end of the year, now is the perfect time to reflect on all of your marketing campaigns this past year. Most importantly, what can you learn from the failures (and the successes) that you can apply to your marketing next year? If nothing else, make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again!
2. Establish Your New Baseline
Unless nothing changed in your business this year, which is highly unlikely, then your current situation is a bit different from last November. You may have a bigger or smaller team and more or less cash to invest in marketing. Whatever your situation, this is your new baseline. It doesn’t matter how things were going last year or the year before.
For example, I already mentioned that I did not hit my goal time in the marathon pictured above. In fact, I did a little worse than the previous year. That means my new baseline changed and I had to adjust my goals accordingly for the following year. If I ignore this small step back, then my training and goals will not fit my current situation, which ultimately leads to frustration and failure down the road.
The key here is to be honest and realistic about where your marketing is right now. I’m not saying you shouldn’t set lofty goals that get you and your team excited. I’m saying your business has changed over the past year (for better or for worse) and it’s important to reestablish your baseline to ensure you’re setting attainable goals. Don’t be afraid to throw away last year’s goals, because they may not be relevant to where your business is right now.
3. Plan to Stop
Most businesses start the year strong, just like every marathoner looks great in the first few miles of the race. But then as the year progresses, we tend to wear down, lose focus, or just get stuck in a rut. For this reason, it’s important to plan specific days next year (I recommend quarterly) when you’ll take a break and refocus your marketing.
This was a huge takeaway for me in my marathon running. Unfortunately, I used to resist the urge to stop early in the race despite tightness and pain in my legs. In the marathon mentioned above, my calf eventually tightened up so much that I was forced to stop, stretch, and even change my stride so that I could finish the race. If instead I had planned to stop a few times in the race, then I would have prevented this injury and likely achieved my goal time.
In our fast-paced society, it’s hard to take a break unless you lock it into your calendar right now. Remember, if you don’t set aside time throughout the year, then you’ll miss opportunities to prevent potential marketing “injuries” that will prevent you from hitting your goals!
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