The new year still seems sort of far away, right? We’re currently waist-deep in holiday cookies and shopping, and turning the calendar page to January 1 (and re-upping our gym membership, committing to Whole30, etc. etc.) seems so far away.

But it isn’t! Time flies. (We’ve somehow already made it through almost a year of the Donald Trump presidency — so that’s something.)

Bearing all of that in mind, it isn’t too early to start client planning for 2018. Slotting in the big dates, updating media lists that reflect now-relevant journalists, and generally getting your shit together to start 2018 off with a bang is so important. Below, we explain a bit more in-depth:

    • Schedule a year-end meeting with your client. At that meeting, provide a detailed list of that year’s hits and misses. Perhaps more importantly, discuss your client’s plans for 2018. Are they opening new locations? Are they switching gears and taking their products in a new direction? Do they have plans for a rebrand in the new year? All of these are important for you, their agency, to be in the loop on for planning purposes.
    • Use this year’s data to inform next year’s goals. Did you kill it this year in reaching client goals? Aim bigger next year, peeps. Sifting through Google Analytics data helps you determine what goals are realistic and what numbers to recommend for next year.
    • Use your notes. Take the info you wrote down at your client meeting and slot it into a calendar for the new year (or at least for Q1). We all know that launches and plans can shift, but having big dates on the calendar will help you back into dates for pitching, sending invites, and so on.
    • Update all relevant lists and docs. Has the brand story evolved? Brand documents like executive bios and releases should reflect that. Or maybe your client has a new product that caters to a different demographic or customer base. That probably means there are new media to target; update your media list.
    • Plan an internal team retreat. Maybe that retreat is just a morning at your favorite coffee shop with the members of your team who work on the client account, or maybe it’s a full-on weekend at the sweat lodge. However it manifests, make the time for you all to get together and brainstorm new tactics for the new year so that you’re bringing fresh, relevant ideas to your Q1 meeting.

There will be more planning in January, but crossing the above items off the list can help you wrap up 2017 in a tidy bow—and celebrate every win you earned along the way.