In sports, the last quarter, inning, or half is often considered the most important in the game, the period of time that determines the winner and loser of the match, and in most cases, this is true. When it comes to business, if you think that Q1 is inconsequential to your company’s success, think again.

In business, the first quarter is the most important in the game. Although Q3 and Q4 get more attention in the press, Q1 can actually have the biggest impact on your organization and set your business up for success or doom it to failure. Proper goal setting and prioritization in Q1 will dramatically increase your chances of achieving your organization’s loftiest marketing objectives for the year.  Here are four steps to ensuring that your business sets its digital marketing strategy up right in Q1 to eliminate as many success-blockers as possible for the rest of the year:

  1. Plan Ahead

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, then you plan to fail.”  Strategic, thoughtful planning is essential for achieving your personal, business, and marketing goals. Most people don’t achieve the business goals that they set in Q1, kind of like failed New Year’s resolutions, simply because they don’t plan correctly. If you want to take charge and lead your organization more effectively than ever before, then you must sit down with your team, have everyone participate in the conversation, and collectively plan for the marketing objectives that will most positively impact your bottom line.

  1. Prioritize and Align Your Goals

Trying to achieve marketing goals that aren’t aligned with your overall business objectives will get you nowhere. You’ll be pulled in too many directions and even if different departments achieve their niche goals, they won’t have as much of an impact on your entire business if your goals and team aren’t aligned and focused around the same strategy.

In order to align your goals properly, start with 1 to 3 core marketing goals for the year that directly impact your bottom line. If you’re unsure where to start, ask yourself this: “If I could only achieve 1-3 things this year, what would I want them to be?” Write these goals down with accompanying deadlines and prioritize them from most important to least important. Then, share your ideas with your team and seek their feedback. Your employees are the ones helping you work toward your goals, so it’s crucial to get their opinions and define who takes care of what to ensure all energies are working efficiently.

Prioritizing your marketing goals will help keep you focused. When life inevitably starts throwing curve balls to distract you and your team, you’ll know what your priorities are and you’re not sabotaging your overall goals for short-term benefits. Don’t get distracted by shiny objects or get flustered by bumps in the road. If you keep those core 1-3 goals top of mind throughout the entire year, they’ll help drive your decisions when obstacles come up.

Once your core goals are prioritized, choose 3-5 supporting goals that will make achieving your core goals easier. Throwing the hail-mary touchdown pass to win the game is always thrilling, but the game is also about reaching those first downs and gaining powerful scoring drives throughout the entire game. If you chunk your larger goals into smaller ones that are easy to manage, have achievable deadlines, and keep your employees continually working towards the goal instead of in a hectic whirlwind at the end of the year, you are sure to be more successful.

  1. Celebrate Small Victories

Now that you have your core goals and supporting goals, break down the tasks associated with accomplishing them. This will give you a realistic understanding of the amount of time and effort you’ll need to plan on giving them and any challenges that you’ll need to overcome along the way.

As you and your team start checking tasks off of your to-do list, celebrate them! Although games where teams are down the whole time and miraculously make a comeback in the last few minutes to score the win are exciting, it feels overall much better to “win” every quarter and keep the lead strong throughout the entire game. Pat yourselves on the back, reward yourself, and then re-focus on the next set of goals. This keeps your team’s morale up and drastically increases the likelihood that you’ll stick with your marketing strategy and make it to the end.

  1. Communicate Your Goals

Don’t be shy about your plans for the future. By announcing your goals to your entire team (even if you think a certain department is unrelated), it will give everyone a vision to work towards and make sure that everyone in your organization is on the same page. Being transparent with your team generates mutual trust and creates a better relationship for solving conflicts when those curveballs do, and will, come your way. You never know how the year will progress or what opportunities may arise, but by communicating your goals, you’ve tapped into the creativity and ideas of an entire organization to help you achieve them.

Don’t waste Q1! By properly organizing, prioritizing and aligning your goals, you’ll be light years ahead of most other leaders and well on your way to accomplishing big things in the year ahead. If you would like some more advice on how to achieve your marketing objectives or need help staying ahead of the game all year long, please contact us!

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