The start of a new year is my favorite part of every year. We are filled with anticipation for a fresh, new start. I feel reenergized from the holiday break and ready to take on the world. Well… maybe not the whole world, but at least my little realm of it.

For many, it’s the time for New Year’s resolutions. I personally do not believe in New Year’s resolutions. Shouldn’t we take care of ourselves, our families, and challenge ourselves at work on a regular basis and not just at the start of a new year? After all, those resolutions tend to lose steam and fade by February or March (at best). Do you notice how everything health and workout-related goes on sale by the end of January? Exactly! I do, however, believe in using the start of a new year to look back and evaluate how things went and identify specific areas where I could use improvement.

The start of a new year means the start of a new marketing plan for many companies. I start building out the next year’s marketing plan in August, so by the end of the year there are a lot of things that could have changed in the last quarter. But I also want to look at the full year. What were our goals and did we achieve them – increased brand recognition, sales goals, customer interaction, or new product launches? What projects were successful? Which projects didn’t perform as expected? What’s changed in the marketplace – competitors, technology, or trends?

Taking the time to look back and truly evaluate a marketing plan’s performance over the last year and the external landscape will enable marketers to learn from their experiences, identify new opportunities for the coming year, and continue to evolve.

Each year I include a few key components in my marketing plan:

  • Try something new – I stretch my comfort zone and try at least one new tactic that is completely different from what we’ve done in the past, but still compliments the marketing plan and strategy. The world of marketing is continuously changing and we need to keep up. Not everything you try will work, but if you don’t try new things, you may miss out on major opportunities and fall behind competitors.
  • Let go – Truly evaluate the performance of the past year. Don’t continue doing something just because it’s what you’ve always done. Every part of your marketing plan needs to provide real value. This may be the year to rethink parts of your marketing plan to get the most of your marketing dollars. Marketing budgets are limited and should be put to the absolute best use.
  • Listen to your customers – Are you truly listening? Customers can communicate with companies in a number of ways, but why invest in websites, customer service lines and social platforms if you don’t listen to your customers? If you notice a trend in customer comments, take note. These are likely red flags that you should pay attention to and work to change.

Throughout the month of January, I’ll cover new trends in marketing and advertising that we expect to see in 2015 and I’ll break them down into new ways for you to help your brand succeed in the coming year. What are some new trends you’re anticipating for the new year?