Seven Tips for an Effective 2018 Planning Session

If you haven’t started your business and marketing planning for 2018, December is the month to pull it together and focus on developing your marketing strategies. It’s also a month full of distractions, so follow these tips so your planning session will be efficient and effective.

1. Review 2017 To Define The Agenda
Gathering information for your agenda’s topics is critical to having an organized and successful meeting. Start by reviewing your 2017 strategic marketing and business plans.  Is the business doing what you and your team agreed was important in 2017? Examine the strategies perceived as necessary for your 2017 planning and conclude - were these indeed the most important for 2017? Next, examine how you can capture new opportunities and improve sales. Engage your entire team by asking them for feedback on last year’s strategies.

2. Prepare With Pre-work
If pre-work is needed for the planning session, be clear and specific with the team about what requires their preparation. Determine the particular topics needed on the agenda and information for the details. This prework allows everyone to be fully prepared and focused. The point is also to prevent the session from getting derailed by extraneous topics or employee concerns.

2. Have A Problem-Solving, Time-Bound Agenda
Pull together a strategic agenda focused on solving the highest-impact issues and examining new opportunities. Create the agenda based on the information gathered in the pre-work to generate appropriate time frames for discussing and planning.

4. Have An Experienced Facilitator
Whoever is leading the planning session can make or break it. The facilitator should be armed with more than an agenda for brainstorming. They should also be able to discuss the topics while being open and objective. At the end of the planning session, your strategies should be mapped back to your anticipated results. If the goal of the day is to identify key strategic objectives, an experienced facilitator can help guide the team through the session more effective.

5. Document The Meeting
Begin and end the planning session by reviewing the agenda and objectives. Make sure to assign a team member to document the discussion, conclusion, and post work. Provide an action plan with a summary of discussions and deadlines. Documentation allows better communication for the follow-up sessions.

6. Have An Immediate Follow Up Meeting
Have a scheduled follow-up date listed on the agenda for a meeting within two weeks. Prescheduling gives the team time to reflect on the first session and any unresolved issues to surface. Immediately following up allows time to refine the findings of the meeting, tighten up the strategy, and create metrics for measuring success in 2018.

7. Meet Regularly To Examine Metrics
The final strategies and required follow up should help you determine how often to meet during 2018. Whether weekly, monthly, or quarterly, these meetings should be to examine your metrics for measuring success and review the sales and marketing progress.  Allow for immediate adjustments to be made to identify and solve issues. Plan to be flexible and evolve your strategy as 2018 progresses.

As strategic marketers, we are continually scanning business and consumer environments for our clients. Feel free to reach out for our expertise if your company needs help getting your marketing strategy and sales aligned with your business goals for 2018. Our job is to search what is happening and seek emerging or robust opportunities and target markets to produce a higher return on investment.