At the start of the year, every marketing department needs to update their materials and documents and make sure they're ready to use. Now that I'm done with mine, I put together a checklist that you can use too.
1. Revise Dates
It sounds obvious but you would be surprised how many people forget to check the footers on their documents and sales presentations. I still see websites that say Copyright 2010! You might also want to update file names to make sure everyone uses the correct version. Do a quick inventory and set aside time to make these small changes: it takes little time but makes a big difference to your image.
2. Update Statistics
Hopefully, since 2011 began, your client base grew, the number of employees increased and revenue has gone up. If you cite these kinds of numbers in your materials to show your company's size and strength, now is the time to make adjustments. You should also be including any new products and services you introduced in 2011 so collateral reflects all you can do for clients. Maybe you even have new locations and different contacts information. In any event, it is a good practice to review your materials periodically to ensure they are accurate. We usually do this several times in the year, but once should be the bare minimum.
3. Review Market and Industry Conditions
Have conditions changed in your target markets? Have research, whitepapers and/or articles been released recently that point to a need for new messaging to better resonate with market challenges or objectives? Has your positioning evolved as you've learned more about your clients' and prospects' needs? Are there more competitors in the field meaning you have to work harder to differentiate? These are all good reasons to read through and spend some time refining your copy.
4. Enhance Appearance and Themes
We always have trade shows early in the year and use them as an opportunity to freshen the look of documents to have something new to share with prospects. Mel did an especially good job this time around with our brochure and price sheets for Graphic Services and earned kudos from the division leader. Next, we are turning to other segments to add a new look. There is no need to completely change your brand. Rather, you can simply interpret it in a new way with layout, visuals and other details.
5. Check Your Website
Your website should never be static but if you have not added or updated content, it makes sense to do some housekeeping at the beginning of a new year. Phase out releases and articles that are several years old. Add new items (such as those revised brochures and client logos you forgot to add when you won their business). Take photos and post them. Provide more frequently-asked questions and the answers. Update the samples you feature. We introduced quite a few new digital services in 2011 and are currently expanding our work section so people can see our breadth of services.
6. Case Studies
Think about projects that went especially well in the last year and clients who were pleased with your products and services. Reach out to them and get permission to create case studies you can publish on your website or blog and hand out to prospective clients. It's best to produce these when you get that grateful call or email but better late than never. We just updated our Hearst case study to include new details and comments from our interview with Mike Fogel.
Ideally, you get testimonials and rave reviews from clients all the time and publish them regularly. But busy people can fall behind in these kinds of tasks. While you are updating, call or visit some additional clients and see if they will go on the record with how happy they are. Even if you can't get permission to put their names and quotes online, you can create an offline collection that sales can use in meetings.
8. Create Missing Items
If there was a sales tool or some content you didn't have in 2011, why not go ahead and create it to fill the gap and start the year off well? Maybe there is a feature you wanted to promote but, in the end-of-year rush to meet revenue goals, you didn't have time. Make the effort now. You'll be able to build on the fresh new look you've created for other documents.
9. Get Organized
If you have all your materials organized on- and offline, the updating process becomes much easier. For example, we have a marketing library in Google Docs that is structured to support the end users. Each market segment has a folder and we also have ones for Human Resources, Finance and Accounting and other functions that need access to collateral, logos, product images and more. In January, we systematically work our way through each folder to update and then notify the appropriate teams. You might also prioritize by what is used most often so this doesn't become an overwhelming chore.
10. Enforce Branding Guidelines
The reality is that people tend to upload and file away materials on their computers. When they need something such as a sales presentation, they reach for the one they used recently versus checking to see if there is a more current version. That means you have to be assertive about communicating to your team and letting them know they should always go to your library or other repository to get the latest and greatest.
At the beginning of the new year, it should also be a standard practice to remind team members to check the dates and other details of any of their frequently-used documents. This might also trigger them to request that you prioritize updates to the materials they use often.
Although new marketing priorities and projects come up all the time, most successful marketers have an annual calendar of important events and activities. The updating of marketing materials should definitely be on your schedule for January. If the project is managed well, you'll have a reason for a champagne toast at the end of the month as well as the beginning!