Take an Agile approach in your Marketing Plan this year!
You've probably been inundated with articles about how you need to step up your business game in 2016 and plan, plan plan! I'm totally guilty of this too (sorry!); I even made a template a few weeks ago for you to work off.
However, rigid plans and strategy documents aren't everyone's cup of tea, and I don't think every business needs it.
Yes, it's good to have goals and a direction to focus on, but if you're anything like me, your ambitions and plans might change within a couple of months, rendering your Business or Marketing Plan outdated.
A less formal approach? Try a 'Retrospective'!
What is a retrospective?
A Retrospective is an Agile project management technique that is traditionally used in software development teams at the end of a 'sprint' (aka, an iteration within a project).
It is essentially a structured way of reviewing your previous activities, and looking for ways to improve for next time, and can be used in lots of scenarios (not just software and marketing!).
How do you complete a retrospective?
If you work with a team of people, get everyone together for a meeting. If you fly solo, grab a coffee and find a good space. This requires sticky notes, markers, and either a whiteboard or a large sheet of A1 paper.
Firstly, start writing sticky notes for each marketing activity you currently do/have been doing this year in your business. I've made a few examples below so you can see how specific you can be:
If you're with a team, you may want to define exactly what you mean by each one when you write it out, just so that everyone is clear.
You then want to draw a 3 by 2 grid on your whiteboard or sheet of paper, with the headings as shown below in each section:
You'll be adding your 'Currently Doing' sticky notes under each section, so here's an explanation of each heading to help you decide where to place them:
Start - These are activities you want to start doing next year, but that you haven't done yet. You won't be putting your 'Currently Doing' sticky notes under here.
Stop - These are activities you are currently doing but that you (all) agree you should stop doing because they aren't working out.
More - These are activities that you are currently doing but that you think you should be doing more of because they're working really well.
Less - These are activities that you are currently doing but that you think you should be doing less of because it isn't clear that they're working well.
Keep - These are activities that you are currently doing and that you want to keep doing as you are, because they are working well.
Puzzle - These are activities that you are currently doing but that you're not sure how well they're working, or (if you're in a team) these are causing some disagreement on whether they're successful or not. You can also place activities here that you're considering doing, but that you're not sure if they'll be worthwhile or not.
Once you (and your team?) have placed the sticky notes where you think they should go, you can discuss each one in more detail, and consider the 'why' behind each one.
It may be that after some thought or discussion, you move these around some more, or come up with a plan for activities under the 'Puzzle' heading.
The last step is to add things that you'd like to start doing (I like using a different colour sticky note for these so that it's clearer):
What are the next steps?
Using this tool, you should now be able to see some clear action steps for the direction of your marketing activities.
You could write this up into a more formal plan, or you can leave it up on a whiteboard somewhere for your own reference (remember to take a photo just in case some sticky notes fall off!).
It's generally a really useful tool for analysing your activities and ensuring you're not just doing the same things over and over without thinking about whether they're worthwhile or not.
(It's also quick and easy to do, so you can get this done in time for the New Year if you don't have time for lengthy planning and brainstorming!)