Annual Kickoff Agenda: Mix the Personal and Professional

Sponge just got back from our first kickoff — a retreat in Puerto Rico with five kids, four partners, three ear infections, two Jeeps, and one giant AirBNB!

We set annual goals for the business, but also for ourselves with the help of Holiday Council.  Mixing professional and personal was funny, poignant, intimate, and generally awesome.

>>Related: Happy Hour Will Resume After Quarterly Planning<<

Here’s the annual kickoff agenda we used, and what we’re holding ourselves accountable to:

Looking Back — an Honest (but Constructive) Assessment

Any business plan needs to be backed by data from your previous performance.  We started by asking the toughest questions: What worked?  What didn’t?  Why?

  1. We opened with Then and Now — a comparison of our website, team, skillsets, tech stack, marketing materials, and client deliverables from January 2019 to January 2020.  We grew so much in 2019, and this exercise was an energizing start to a long, honest day.
  2. Next we reviewed our Progress Against Goals, particularly our financial goals.  All good news there!  😉
  3. Then the hard stuff:  Start, Stop, Continue.   We ran this as a speed round, with each teammate scribbling down what did/didn’t work across a number of topics.

Reflecting and reviewing our Start, Stop, Continue answers as a group quickly brought visibility to areas we needed to improve in 2020. It also helped simplify and prioritize the meat of our annual kickoff agenda — mapping out 2020.

Looking Forward — From Lofty Goals to Specific Plans

  1. Quarterly Bookings/Revenue were the first (and easiest) goals we set.  This is the mountain we need to climb, and the way we get resources for all our other goals.
  2. We set a vision for Team Growth.  The Sponge team tripled last year, so we’re focusing on growing our skillsets, rather than headcount this year.
  3. We broke down all other ideas into Quarterly Milestones:  how would we incrementally deliver new logos, better client experiences, community programs, greater word of mouth, and a matured brand? These went straight into Asana with owners and milestone dates.

This conversation was positive, fruitful, and collaborative.  We disagreed, found consensus, built project teams, and ended up collectively bought-in to our annual plan.

Sponge Goals in 2020

One amazing consequence of our annual kickoff agenda was seeing two themes emerge:

1. Bring the MOPS community together.

It’s not a coincidence all Sponge-ies love hosting dinner parties and coffee dates.  This year we want to build ties within the (small) Marketing Ops community.  We’re developing an ambitious collection of programs, including:

  • Marketing Masterminds – enrollment open now!
  • The Sponge Conference on September 24, 2020.  We’re in the beginning stages of planning, and we’d love to know what’s in your fantasy marketing event.
  • The Sponge Podcast – more details to come!

2. Empower small teams to move beyond random acts of marketing.

Marketing must create new business, expand existing business, and consistently drive growth.  But many teams think they need MORE (budget, tactics, staff) to reach those goals. 

No matter the size of your budget or marketing team, we can all work smarter.  Sponge has a trove of tested resources and methodologies we’ve used in our 45 years of MOPs and demand generation.  This year:

Our Personal Goals in 2020

I mentioned that we mixed our professional and personal goals on this retreat.  It was inevitable:  you can’t spend a week with each other’s families and not talk about sleep training, getting engaged, and politics.

One challenge we posed during the retreat was to make volunteer days routine.  Each of us put together a Community Impact Plan for how we can put our time and Sponge’s $$$ to good use.  Jess and I were blown alway by the team’s plans and I’m excited to share our pet causes soon.

We also set individual goals, most of which were around:

  • New technology certifications
  • Prioritizing health (especially important as a remote team)
  • Spending focused time with our young children

We can’t wait to share more with you this year, as we move from planning to reality!

 

Planning doesn’t have to be painful.  The Modern Marketer’s Workbook for Annual Planning will help you answer marketing’s toughest question:  what worked?

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