Top-Shelf Tip No. 233:

"It takes as much energy to wish as it does to plan."

Eleanor Roosevelt

Tips To Prepare For Your Best Year Yet

With the holiday season upon us, people are ramping up for quality time with family, holiday parties and plenty of fantastic food. As the year's final quarter comes to a close, many sales professionals are also headed straight into planning meetings. This is the time of year for companies to assess performance and set goals for the coming year.

Michelle Van Slyke, senior vice president of marketing and sales for The UPS Store, Inc., says that successful planning now can change the trajectory of an entire year. In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Van Slyke's best pieces of advice to make 2020 your best year yet.

Start with reflection. Van Slyke encourages leaders to begin every planning meeting by reflecting on the prior year. What worked? What didn't? What did you think wasn't going to work, but did? The answers to these questions lay the groundwork for what your organization needs to prioritize in the coming year.

Leaders should also look at last year's numbers. The data can show how close you were to hitting your goals and bring to light missed opportunities. By identifying the gaps, you can plan to fill those holes in the upcoming year.

Go big and then scale down. After a time of reflection, have some fun and throw some big, bold ideas out on the table. See how people react and take note of what raises eyebrows. Open the conversation for complete creativity, says Van Slyke. Allow wild and crazy ideas to flow and refrain from saying "that would never work." Sometimes big ideas are the ones that make millions. Encourage your team to be creative, then challenge them to find ways to make those ideas practical.

Think globally. Sales professionals must consider events that will affect the world stage during the next year. Consider what the conversation will be during the year and what consumers will be most interested in hearing about. An obvious example in 2020 is the national election, and while that creates a lot of competition for attention, look for creative ways to position your brand amongst the noise.

Make S.M.A.R.T goals.Van Slyke reminds leaders to create quantifiable goals. The best way to do this is by creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. What you strive for should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based. When your goals for the upcoming year have each of these characteristics, you are setting yourself up for a success story that is practical and allows you to strive toward tangible outcomes.

Remain flexible. It's always important to stay flexible. New trends will arise, hot topics will spark out of nowhere and unexpected course changes will happen. Marketing plans should be used as a foundation for budgets and priorities. But when the opportunity presents itself to go off your plan, don't be afraid to step outside of the lines, notes Van Slyke. Planning three to six months before the year begins can't always predict timely opportunities.

'Tis the season for merriment but be sure to set aside time to plan. When you remain nimble and diligent, you set yourself up for success in the coming year.

Compiled by Audrey Sellers

Source: Michelle Van Slyke, senior vice president of marketing and sales for The UPS Store, Inc., is a results-oriented marketer who transforms brands and marketing teams into top performers in highly competitive environments.

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