4 Tips for a Successful Fourth Quarter
August 24, 2021
As we approach the start of September and beginning of fall, thoughts of pumpkin spice, cooler weather and cozy sweaters may be swirling around your head like the yellow, orange leaves falling from the trees. While the transition to fall, or any other season for that matter, isn’t nearly as evident in Southern California where Orange Label is – the transition to the fourth quarter is. That’s why we’ve gathered four points to help you get down to business and ensure your fourth quarter marketing is on track for success.
Conduct a Comprehensive Progress Review
If you’ve already begun your 2022 company planning, kudos to you! Whether your plans are set or just getting started, it’s important to revisit what your 2021 goals were and where they currently stand. With one quarter left to optimize and a new year ahead, here are a few items to review.
- Revisit your key performance indicators (KPIs) from a holistic level from the past three quarters. Compile a list of “what worked” and “what did not” to optimize your strategy this last quarter. Common KPIs to check include: new business growth, leads and conversions (prospects taking a desired action) and cost per lead (how much it costs each potential fan to convert). For a complete list of sales, social media and website KPIs, visit our ROI Roadmap!
- Check in on benchmarks as often as you check your email. We’re kidding! That would be excessive. To best utilize the time you have left, the cadence for check-ins should be weekly, bi-weekly or monthly depending on your industry and what you’re reviewing. For example, Orange Label Marketing Services Director Michelle Komala advises that in the fast-moving world of e-commerce, daily checks are definitely warranted to check how campaigns are progressing. When it comes to healthcare, it can be useful to monitor micro-level activity daily and weekly with a more significant macro-view of results conducted monthly. Ultimately in healthcare, your sales cycle (for medical devices) or the patient journey will guide you on how often you review.
- Take a deep dive into your reviews and feedback to see what your audience is saying. A major key in lead generation, Statista finds that 62% of U.S. online users read online reviews before selecting customer services and deem recency as the most important factor when judging a local business based on reviews. Serving as a direct line into the mindset of your audience, both positive and negative reviews provide invaluable information on what areas to promote and address within your business and your marketing.
- Last but not least, take a closer look at your budgets. Are they on track? This is especially important if your industry is one that implements a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy in which unused dollars result in a smaller fund in the next budget cycle. The scramble to use all all funds by year-end often results in lower quality spending, according to American Economic Review study. Checking your budget early on before Q4 begins (and throughout the year) can ensure funds are saved and used appropriately to maximize results. On the other hand, if your campaigns are performing well or you’re looking for that year-end push increasing your marketing spend may be necessary. The 2021 CMO Survey reports an 11.5% increase in digital marketing spending in the last year and the focus is expected to continue with marketers expecting digital budgets to grow by 10.1% in the next year.
Check for Market Changes
With uncertainty from the pandemic continuing, it’s more important than ever to remain aware of market changes and trends. As the saying goes, “the best offense is a good defense,” so these market changes should be checked nearly as often as you check your email. This time we’re only half kidding. Here are key factors to keep in mind.
- According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the occupational outlook for market research analysts is expected to increase by 18% by 2029 – a percentage it deems to be “much faster than the average for all occupations” with growth driven by an increased use of data and market research across industries. Whether your market research is conducted by in-house or third-party sources, critical factors to analyze and keep track of ahead of 2022 include: supply chain management, what’s trending in your industry and in the eyes of your buyer, market challenges, factors influencing purchases and conversions among your target demographic, and what your competitors are doing, Hubspot shares.
- As the exhibition, convention and meeting industry continues to evolve, maintaining a pulse on event status, attendance and networking or educational opportunities can inform your budget spend and strategy. Checking in with your stakeholders, whether its your internal team, target audience or industry peers, on their comfort level can help determine what events are worth attending or holding in Q4 and into Q1 2022. For example, knowing that attendees’ conference preference is about 50-50 on hybrid versus in-person meetings, according to Statista, may inform your strategy on how to plan for events.
Ensure Your Team is Aligned on Goals
As emotional intelligence expert Lindon Crow shares in The 19: Entrepreneur Edition podcast, a leader has to be able to unite their team and move them toward their goal. “A brand’s mission is based on values and purpose. So, it’s not just saying, ‘Here’s where we’re going,” it’s… having the ability to bring somebody onboard when they’re off,” Crow says. There are a variety of methods to ensure this is achieved.
- To start, check in with those in day-to-day operations. Since frontline employees most often know your customers best, they may be able to identify areas for improvement and, like your target audience, inform you on what’s working and what’s not. Not only can this boost customer happiness or user experience, it can boost employees’ as well. As the National Fund for Workforce Solutions states, “By empowering frontline workers, you create an organization where people want to stay.”
- Since brand perception relies heavily on the experience individuals have with your frontline employees – Harvard Business Review finds that 64% of customers avoid brands after a bad experience – it’s essential that no team members are “off board” as Crow says with your brand mission. Areas of focus can include: making sure training is sufficient, well-paced and helpful, confirming that team members have what they need and empowering employees to feel a part of the brand story.
Take Your Insights Into 2022
We’ve looked at the detailed steps in optimizing your Q4 strategy, now let’s look at the big picture when it comes to your 2022 goals. These tips will ensure your budget, marketing strategy and resources are all set.
- In reviewing this year’s data, you’ll be able to see top performers and areas of improvement to forecast your budget for 2022. The other key to forecast is your sales. As Brixx, a financial planning SaaS company, shares, the results from your profit and loss, cash flow and balance sheet statements will help you form a plan of action for best-case and worst-case financial scenarios – because, as 2020 confirmed, the ability to pivot is invaluable.
- We’ve talked about brand perception from the eyes of your frontline employees. Now it’s time to talk brand perception from the eyes of key stakeholders. In addition to sifting through reviews and feedback, seek out and set times to meet with these stakeholders to ask them questions. As year-end can become extra hectic, it’s best to reach out early on or get something in the books for early 2022. At Orange Label, we call this research process the “Orange Exploration,” in which we ask stakeholders a variety of questions ranging from brand perception to brand improvement that we transform into an actionable plan that resonates with target audiences.
- Lastly, don’t be afraid to bring in other resources. In analyzing your company and marketing data, you may find holes or areas that are lacking. If your market research department or marketing department can use a boost, Q4 is the time to find out and make improvements for the remainder of this year and the one to come!
When it comes to Q4 , it’s more than just prioritizing the ability to “finish strong.” It’s about fine-tuning your strategy to create success for the long-run. For marketing that drives action and response, contact the Orange Label team at firstname.lastname@example.org.