I read this post from Gopal Shenoy on 5 Suggestions product managers can adopt in the new year, which got me thinking about my marketing new year’s resolutions.  I have 10 of them and here they are:

1.  Make this the year you track ROI on everything – Now that we’re trudging through a recession, it’s time to make sure you can justify every single penny in that budget of yours because you know it is going to get hacked by the end of Q1.  We all say we are tracking ROI on everything but I know there are a couple of little tactics that you’ve been hiding in there.  Chances are you have classed them as “branding” hoping that nobody will notice that you have no clue what sort of results you are driving with that bucket of money.  Make this the year you drop your “branding” crutches and run, Forrest, run!
2.  Hang out with customers more – You know you want to do it but all that marketing work gets in the way.  Set a goal, be it one sales call per week or per month but set it and schedule it and make it happen.  Deep customer knowledge is the only thing that gives you credibility.  Invest in that.
3.  Do something once a quarter to make your sales force love you – Did you know that research shows that sales professionals consider up to 90 percent of sales materials created by marketing as valueless?  Resolve to do one thing a quarter that you know your sales team will love. How will you know that they will love it?  You do talk to those folks, don’t you?
4.  Stop writing boring press releases – Seriously!  Just stop it!  If your press releases look more or less the way they did a few years ago, you’re doing it wrong!  Experiment with social media, get some multimedia into your press releases, make a headline that doesn’t put people to sleep.  Anything.  Just, please for the love of Pete, no more boring press releases.
5.  Drop your 3 worst performing generation activities – there’s that tradeshow you’ve been doing every year that doesn’t deliver any leads but “customers will wonder if we don’t show up”.  Well folks, this year they won’t because chances are they are at home due to travel restrictions.  The ones that do show won’t wonder why you didn’t show up this year.  They read the news just like the rest of us.
6.  Try 3 lead generation tactics you’ve never tried before – Never tried a podcast before?  This is the year!  Have you been toying with the idea of offering a free trial?  Launching a blog?  It’s easy to get stuck in a rut of running the same lead generation tactics over and over again.  Make sure to try a few new things this year.
7.  Start/Improve your Customer Advisory Council – I’ve been running a Customer Advisory Council and it has been one of the most valuable marketing things I’ve done in past year.  If you don’t have one, now is the time to start.  If you are already running one, think about how you can make it better this year.
8.  Make a list of people you want to develop a relationship with and build a plan to make it happen – Maybe there is an analyst that you’ve briefed once but you didn’t really click.  Maybe there is a hot shot VP of marketing in your city whose brain you would like to pick.  Maybe there are a couple of journalists or bloggers that you admire (or who write about your competition more than you would like).  Make a list and figure out how you are going to get to know them better this year.
9.  Hire an intern – You had no experience once and someone gave you a break.  The next time you are complaining about your latest budget cuts, think about the folks trying to get a bit of experience on their resume’s so that they have some sort of hope of finding a job when they graduate in this lousy economy.  You are short of people at the moment, aren’t you?
10.  Be a mentor – I personally have been a bit of a networking maniac for the past year but I will be the first to admit that I spent more time meeting with folks at my level or more senior than me, than I did with folks that were more junior.  This year I’m thinking about how I can help junior marketing folks get where they want to go, in much the same way I was fortunate enough to be helped along when I was a little marketing sprite.

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