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The end of the year looms. And after it, the start of a brand new year.

This is a time of year when many retail and B2C companies are watching the holiday orders come in, fretting about inventories and shipping obstacles, and measuring to figure out the ROI on sales and promotions they ran in the fourth quarter.

But someone has to also be thinking about the future. Holiday sales are all but locked in by now. And your first quarter sales must be earned.

With that in mind, here are five things marketers and small business managers should do before the new year starts:

1. Review performance from last January

Whether it was a great year or a not so great year, it’s important to understand performance in order to set a strategy. You need to know what you did, and what impact it had. What was the ROI on certain campaigns? How has pricing changed? How has the website changed?

To help set expectations, as well as meet next year’s goal, you need to have a solid understanding of what happened this year.

2. Finalize a promotions calendar

What products are going to be on sale? How are you going to promote them on your website? What special offers are going out to existing customers?

Planning all your promotions at least a month at a time is critical to ensuring your strategies don’t conflict, you have enough time to get everything done, and everyone in the company is on the same page from a messaging standpoint.

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3. Develop a testing plan

If you have never run A/B testing before, it’s time to start. If you have, it’s time to continue. Either way, it is important to develop a plan.

How will you determine what to test? Who will be involved in the process? How will you measure results and implement changes?

Developing a clear plan takes time, so start now.

4. Assign out content deliverables

Whether its feeding your social media, posting to your blog, or updating the product pages on your website, you have content to create.

A surefire way to miss deadlines is to wait until the last minute to assign tasks. Take advantage of the end of the year to make sure everyone knows what is needed and when in Q1.

5. Schedule all mailings

Emails and direct mail, text messages and push notifications – they all serve a purpose. For marketers, these are the messaging channels we use to reach customers and grow sales.

And though it is obvious that postal mail needs to be sent in advance to allow time for mailing, digital messaging should be planned in advance despite the immediacy of delivery. It allows you to map out all communications in advance to ensure the right frequency, provides ample time for content development, and testing.

Here’s to a successful New Year!



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