It’s just a few days into the new year. Happy 2017!

Welcome to a world of new opportunities and unlimited possibility. Now, while every new year is a turning of a page and a clean slate of sorts… have you realized that before you know it, it will actually be 2018?

We know, we know, party foul for totally skipping over the current year and fast forwarding twelve months from now… But before you bounce out of this post, hang with us for a minute because we’d like to share a technique we successfully use that helps us stay on course through the year and achieve results that our clients are pleased with come year’s end. And it just might help you with your internal clients or leaders…

For many, the end of the year is typically a time to reflect with client teams on achievements and plan for the future. We renew contracts and adjust time allocations and budgets to coincide with anticipated plans. You probably do/did the same. Maybe you’re like many we know that are in that process now.

During these planning conversations as the laundry list of tactics and outcomes are put on the board for consideration, we pause to ask an important question:

“If it were 12 months from now and you were presenting those achievements (whatever is on the screen/board) to your board/leadership chain, would they be pleased with the story you were telling? Does it communicate the value you desire as a marketing leader to put forward?”

If your answer is yes, then you’re on to something. But if not, then it’s time to keep digging and refining.

Our team has found that asking a question like the one above results in a different priority set that comes out… and a more focused conversation when it comes to budget allocation. It helps to push past status quo and changes the conversation from one of tactics… to one of outcomes. And the best part? Everyone will have a better idea of what is really important… and understand the guard rails that need to be worked within (and that actually provides the marketers in the room some freedom to be creative in what they focus on to achieve the desired outcome).

And you know what else? It’s a commitment from everyone in the room that we know what the priorities are… and at the end of year, should those results not be achieved… well, the impending conversation should be expected. BUT WHEN THOSE RESULTS ARE ACHIEVED there’s an exuberant energy in the air to know that we pulled all the right levers to achieve those things that would help the brand move further fasterTM.

In an era where marketing continues to be an undervalued player, just imagine how great would it feel to know that everyone is aligned around the outcome priorities… and will be glad, no, overwhelmingly proud, to share those results at the end of the year. It’s time to do more than imagine. Ask the thoughtful questions that will keep your 2017 on target… and set you up for some amazing conversations come 2018.