Ahhhh Q4. The leaves are turning, social media is arguing about PSLs, and marketers are trying to figure out how to spend their remaining budgets before the ball drops at midnight on January 1st.
From an agency perspective, use-it-or-lose-it marketing budgets have always seemed super weird to us. But each year, without fail, Q4 brings a steady flow of client emails asking for help putting leftover funds to good use. Quickly please. The briefs are loose and the timelines are tight.
We’ve already started getting a few of these notes in recent weeks (in fact, 3% of Fortune 100 companies have already asked us for help), and naturally, we’re happy to oblige.
So we thought we’d get ahead of the rush this year and share helpful ideas about how to spend leftover budgets, including some of our most common Q4 projects. Here are a handful to skim through…
Upgrade your newsroom page
One of the best ways to get media coverage is to make it easy for the media to cover you. It’s helpful for journalists to have an interactive newsroom page or at least a media kit to get things like a company description, exec bios and headshots, company stats, b-roll for broadcast spots, and recent coverage. They’re super useful and not that hard to build.
The 2024 Trends Report
We produce a ton of trend reports each year, and they’re popular for a reason: Easy end-of-year coverage in trades and good engagement on LinkedIn. These typically take a few weeks to a couple of months to research, write, design, and roll out, which means if you want an asset ready for December, we should kick it off soon. Side note: One unnamed Codeword client spent an entire year developing and overthinking their trend report, which prompted us to make a massive report in a single afternoon to show it can be done quickly and creatively.
The 2024 Anti-Trends Report
Even better, we can one-up the traditional trend report. Negative stories tend to get more attention than positive ones, so why not lean into that with a report about what won’t be trending in 2024? Dead memes, outdated jargon, bad investments, obsolete tech… we could have a great time with this.
Turn sad PDFs into awesome micro-sites
We’ll say this until we’re blue in the face: Every white paper should be a micro-site. It’s better for search, more accessible, more immersive, easier to share around your customer’s org, easier email capture, and not that much more expensive to produce. So if you have a PDF, a pitch deck, or a sales-enablement tool sitting around with interesting content but an outdated format, hand it over and we’ll gussy it up for you.
The end-of-year sizzle video
Every company can use a quick recap of their year, especially if it’s been a good one. A rah-rah sizzle video is one of those all-purpose assets that can be quickly shared with sales prospects, shown internally at an all-hands pep rally, included in a news briefing with the media, and shared on social channels.
[This is the most boring idea but also the most responsible use of your funds.] Sometimes you go to the doctor for a physical even when you aren’t sick. The same goes for “hygiene projects,” those workstreams that are easy to put off throughout the year but which can really help your marketing org do better work. When was the last time you had a full content audit? Have you done any keyword analysis lately to plan your 2024 content calendar? How about an EOY sync with the sales org to hear their top customer themes from the past year? A few weeks of strategizing in Q4 can lead to a much better Q1, Q2, and beyond.
Invest in customer advocacy
If you don’t have a formal customer advocacy program, maybe it’s time to build one and show some love to the bottom of your funnel. If you already have one, great! Give it some end-of-year attention, like small gifts or swag for your most loyal customers, content creation with customer testimonials, a fan community on Discord; the creative opportunities are endless.
Take your agency out for lunch
Kidding but not really. If you’ve been in the industry a while, you know that some of the best work between agencies and clients is done when we’re not technically working. It’s done when we’re day-drinking, gossiping, eating too many carbs, and shooting the shit over what we’re excited about and what hasn’t been working. We’ll both come away with pages of notes and insights that will make our work even more effective next year. It’s so much better than a remote touch base, and let’s be honest, we tend to pick up the tab for these anyway.
Give the money to your favorite media outlets and creators
It’s hard out there for an independent creator or small media outlet. We’re big fans of writing them checks. Focus on the smaller titles that niche audiences really love and trust, but maybe aren’t on the radars of the big media agencies — think podcasts, newsletters, indie media, zines, YouTube channels. You’ll find they’re exceptionally creative and helpful about connecting you with their audiences, who will love you for supporting their favorite creator. We’re doing this ourselves in Q4, so you’ll see Codeword pop up in some of your favorite newsletters and podcasts over the next few weeks.
Thanks for reading to the end. Even if none of these ideas are a perfect fit for your EOY budget dump, we hope your creative juices are flowing and you’re dreaming of projects that will set you up for an amazing 2024. Our inboxes are open for chatting, operators are standing by: [email protected].