Keeping The Holiday Drill In Check: How To Plan Rather Than React
It’s that time of year. Once again, we are awash in holiday projections — and with those projections come seasonally specific recommendations for marketers.
This includes everything from capitalizing on mobile’s first true holiday to investing more in programmatic as that trend ramp steepens into 2014. Assuming you are more dexterous than you were this time last year (which most of us are), the seasonal imperative suggests you raise the bar on testing offers and calls-to-action.
But, rather than enter into a seasonal frenzy which you may or may not be able to sustain, or which may not have any real relationship to your overall strategy, I think year-end brings another key opportunity. It’s an opportunity to evaluate your prospects as compared to a year ago and tune your plans for the couple years ahead, with industry progress and expanded options as your backdrop. Take a look:
How Much Better Do You Know Your Audience?
If you’ve moved beyond basic demographic targeting and ventured beyond the cookie into truer people-based audience targeting over the past few years, chances are you are more intelligent about your audience. Now that you have a better picture of their behavior relative to your brand and products, perhaps this is the year you put it to use on mobile.
After all, mobile is more than ready, with those systems and tools in place. Maybe you discovered completely new audiences that are producing impressive ROI for you. So, do more with those audiences, leveraging programmatic at a higher scale and intensity to implement your strategic thinking with the help of the technology — to do what you’ve discovered is working at a larger scale and more quickly.
Relax And Get Creative
With the comfort of higher levels of validated audience intelligence (described above), why not investigate the opportunity to implement dynamic and/or rich creative to test out visuals, message, and calls-to-action in a programmatic environment? There’s far less risk than ever before to developing multiple creatives and iterating on the fly, relying on your team and systems to do so.
Step It Up On Social
There’s been a lot of talk about expanded capabilities on Facebook as the platform’s data scope and tool set has continued to advance. But, rather than rush yourself through the holiday season to test audience modeling within a limited, possibly reactive e-commerce execution, why not sit down with your team and come up with a strategic game plan for using categories and custom audiences in the next year? Determine what Facebook might yield for you and how big a part it should play in the mix. This may prove especially powerful for retailers; use whatever you execute during the holiday seasonal shopping period as a 2014 foundation.
Who Should You Hire?
You may be heading into the year with positions to fill or the restless feeling that there’s some key talent missing. Perhaps you’ve got either more business or higher, more technically-oriented expectations from your clients and partners. I think hiring is becoming less about traditional organizational planning and recruiting to fill customary slots — client services, media, creative, data analytics — and more about keeping a new ethos of fluidity.
Might your sales team be well served by a closer working relationship with data scientists? Is your new seller actually a data scientist? Might you look more closely at cross-platform experience vs. focusing on separate specialists? What kind of folks do you need to hire or train to work effectively with your data suppliers?
After all, your relationship to your own data — on behalf of your clients — has never been more important. You’re going to need to aggregate all kinds of data in order to navigate the year(s) ahead. So, be flexible in your thinking when it comes to hiring.
Open The Next Year Strong
While the reports on holiday trends are intriguing and there are plenty of recommendations for maximizing this period — take a deep breath. Evaluate how far you’ve come and how you might incorporate industry progress (and your own) into longer long-term planning, outside these few short weeks.
It’s easy to feel urgency about the rich opportunity at hand, thanks to technology, tools and an opening up of true cross-platform options — but it takes discipline to keep the longer view. Don’t let this period feel like a fire drill. Let it be an opportunity to shore up and open the next year strong.
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