Jeremy Johnson new mug

Jeremy Johnson

The start of a new year isn’t always the easiest time for reflection. A fresh calendar feels like a blank slate. You’re staring at 12 months of potential growth for your business. Why waste time looking back when opportunity lies ahead?

As difficult as it may seem, reviewing the recent past is the key to successfully shaping your business’s vision for the future. Most companies accredited with Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific can attest that effective marketing plans require an understanding of what works and what doesn’t. Developing a path to success in 2020 starts with an assessment of tools, tactics and results from 2019.

Channeling your inner Marty McFly and going back to the future likely means performing some organizational inventory. Marketing expert Diane Seltzer recommends asking questions to evaluate your business’s performance during the previous year. Identifying which activities to incorporate in plans for 2020 may be as easy as finding answers to the following:

  • Did you achieve the desired results from your marketing efforts?
  • Which specific marketing activities were effective?
  • Should you reallocate resources to better performing targets, markets or marketing tactics?
  • Were you able to stay within a marketing budget at the end of the year?
  • What areas of your marketing budget do you want to invest more in for the coming year?

You may realize that some of those answers end up leading to additional, more in-depth questions. When that happens, dive into the data. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) from the previous year, for example, offer valuable insight into successes worth building on.

Amanda Retzki of Weidert Group notes that some KPIs are especially useful when assessing past performance, particularly for smaller B2B businesses. Metrics related to website sessions provide a unique look into users’ decision-making processes. Factoring those metrics into marketing plans is essential to ensure your business is answering questions and removing barriers for consumers.

The same can also be true for data related to Marketing Qualified Leads and Sales Qualified Leads collected via your website. Be on the lookout for successful content that may lead to a purchase further down the road or significant actions taken by consumers that have them ready to buy now. Evaluating the number of last year’s leads that converted to actual sales may be valuable as well.

Past results add context to the items that ultimately make up your marketing plan. They add perspective that allows you to determine which goals are realistic and what it might take to achieve them. The alternative is a lot of guesswork and unmet expectations.

There’s no better time than now to think about the past. Your business’s future depends on it.

Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. Contact the BBB at 208-342-4649 or email to