We are quickly approaching the time of year when Marketing and Business Development teams dive into their budget planning and proposals for next year. If you thrive on numbers, strategy, and piecing it all together, then this is your time to shine.

For everyone else, I can hear your collective groans.

It’s so easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day work that, for some, this will be the first chance you’ve had to revisit your perfect-on-paper marketing strategy. You’ll quickly note what worked this year, what didn’t, and what you didn’t have time to get to… before you get a jumpstart on planning for 2019.

Chances are, planning ahead will take priority over making strategic adjustments to finish this year strong.

Let’s stop right there.

We have four months left in 2018. An entire quarter to evaluate, adjust, and THRIVE.

We usually count our wins, move our maybes from our 2018 spreadsheet to 2019, and then move on. Instead, this month let’s take a moment to pause. We’ll make the necessary plans for next year — with every bit of determination and strategic planning needed — but not at the cost of losing work that can be done in Q4.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist — or a marketing professional — to know that digital marketing is evolving at an exponential rate. Human behavior has changed, which means how we sell to people has changed, and our businesses have no choice but to keep up.

If your 2018 marketing plan is still word-for-word what it was when your leadership team signed off on it, then we can all but guarantee that your plan is now as stale as the overused metaphor I just used!

My point is this: our budget is a plan, a guideline, a reference. It’s not something set in stone. And the strategy we base it on — must remain fluid all year long.

Some key trends to highlight how quickly marketing is changing.

Remember when mobile was the future of marketing? By next year, mobile will account for 72% of all digital ad spend. It’s no longer the future. Mobile marketing is a must.

Have you started integrating voice search into your marketing plan? You’ll want to rethink your strategy (or likely, lack of strategy) to optimize for voice. Over the last year, 60% of people started using voice search.

Social media is the most popular content marketing tactic for 90% of business-to-consumer (B2C) businesses, and 94% of business-to-business (B2B) marketers use LinkedIn as part of their content strategy (Forbes).

In our blog last week, we shared four more marketing trends for 2018.

Your plan should evolve with the latest marketing trends. This doesn’t mean you should jump at the first shiny object that comes your way, but it does mean you should adjust your strategy as you go along.

As you now take time to review what worked and what didn’t, re-evaluate your strategy for fourth quarter while also planning ahead for next year.

Here are ten questions to help you get started while considering your fourth-quarter marketing review:

  1. Have your sales increased over last year at this time? What do your analytics show as the top marketing efforts that may be contributing (or not contributing) to these numbers?
  2. Has your target customer changed since launching your marketing efforts?
  3. How is the economy? Has it changed since January? How is it expected to be in December?
  4. How has your competitor landscape changed?
  5. Are your company goals progressing as you predicted?
  6. Are your marketing efforts in line with your budget?
  7. How have your marketing efforts aligned with your sales?
  8. What trends do you see in your analytics for your website, social media and paid advertising?
  9. What is your average cost per lead for online advertising?
  10. How have your campaigns’ performances aligned with company sales and goals?
Download & Print: Top 10 Questions to Consider in Your Mid-Year Marketing Review

Every good marketing and business development professional will be making adjustments. No one had a perfect plan that didn’t require tweaks along the way to make it better. And, if you did, we want you on our next podcast!

We’re in this together, so let’s share: What’s working for you? What didn’t work this year? How will you tweak your plan to finish the year strong?

Head over to Think Tank of Three on Facebook to share your feedback.