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Can This Wait Until January?

“Can this wait until January?”

How many times have you heard this in the past couple of weeks? How many times have you said it? A late Thanksgiving and Christmas Day on a Wednesday (which, you know, throws out that entire week for productivity) certainly shortens the month of December. Between PTO, holiday parties and wrapping things up before the year’s end, there isn’t a lot of time left unless something is urgent. And even then, you are moving so quickly that the task suffers from lack of true attention.

So why do we wait to start budgeting until the end of the year (OK, November at best)?

Traditionally, marketers wait until near the end of the year to start budgeting – by then you have a good idea of your revenue for the current year and can better project what you need to attain the following year (sales numbers) and how much money you need to do so (marketing budget). Also, the calendar year ends on Dec. 31, and heaven forbid you start Jan. 1 without a clean slate. Just like that 15 pounds you want to lose, Jan. 1 holds a magic power to everything you want to accomplish.

Here is the thing: That 15 pounds isn’t going anywhere on Jan. 1. In fact, Jan. 1 is a Wednesday, and it is never good to start a diet and exercise program in the middle of the week (weekend is too close), so you are better off waiting until the following Monday. But that Monday, Jan. 6, is when you get back to work from the holidays and have to catch up … the week of the 13th makes more sense. Plus, this way you can plan your exact exercise routine and the foods you are going to eat. There is no way I can get to the grocery for healthy food by the 1st. The 13th is much more realistic.

What is the point if you can’t calmly put a plan together that you can realistically execute?

The same is true for budgeting. Why is it this mad panic at the end of the year when there are a million things to complete before year’s end? Why not wait until the calm after the storm in mid-January, when things are quiet, business is not as active and you have time to actually sit and think. Your entire brand will not fall apart if your fiscal budget begins in February or even (gasp) March.

In fact, it might be much improved. You have time to truly recap the previous year, develop a strategy, and find the right people, tools and budget to implement. A well-thought-out, planned strategy will take your brand further when you can analyze where you have been and use the data to tell you how to move forward. The data should tell you what you should be doing and how to focus efforts, rather than an emotional (and stressed) reaction to just get numbers approved before the end of the year. If you don’t have time to look at the data, however, you do just that – make emotional, quick decisions that might not pan out later in the year. If you have a weight loss plan with defined metrics that you have thought out, don’t you see better results than just saying, “I am going to lose weight today?”

Isn’t your brand’s marketing plan worth a little more time and planning? Care to weigh in?