We should always use planning in business – in every aspect of it, including marketing. Here, we’ve composed some of the essentials that you find in successful plans for marketing, as well as a couple of ideas that will make the planning process a bit smoother.
One thing that can slow the planning for marketing down, and even slow down implementing the plan is language. Teams might use a variety of terms, including things like out of home media, or OOH, for defining the process as well as the success of it all. That can create confusion.
Within the entire process, be incredibly clear about what you mean by both the strategy and the overall plan, and on how it all goes together. Your business might have its own terminology, and this means it’s important to design your structure so that it fits with your internal language.
It’s critical to anchor the plan you produce in both prospects and customers on a couple of levels.
First, make sure that you address how the customers and markets are changing. Learn where the specific changes in needs or behavior might impact the way your business considers the tactics for marketing in the coming year.
Secondly, gain an understanding of what key segments/audiences, both with prospects and customers, will be the focus of the year. These needs have to be mapped to your business mission and strategy. This can assist with sequencing your activities based on your priorities and where the best opportunities are in order to achieve the marketing goals for your organization.
Introspection and Reflection
This step should actually be done before you start planning. Try to involve as much of your team as possible as well as people from the sales, finance, and product departments. Run a retrospective that answers three questions about your previous year:
- What worked well?
- What didn’t?
- What can be done differently?
Work with your leaders to go through and use your findings when planning for the coming year.
Is there a difference between a strategy and a plan?
You can’t produce a good plan for marketing if you don’t have a strategy. Your strategy needs to set your north star in place. It needs to be completely aligned with your key pillars for the year as well as your business strategy.
Your marketing strategy needs to lay out what your marketing has to do for it to support those moves in the coming year. The plan spells out how you’ll get there and includes which tactics you’ll use. Underlying that will be the who (resources), and the enablers (capability alignment) that show exactly how you’ll execute your plan. Finally, you need to produce a budget, identify your needs for headcount, and have an approach for measurement. With some businesses, it can also be helpful to plan for specific scenarios.
All of us are aware that things don’t always go as planned. Competitors don’t remain static, markets change, and prospects and customers don’t always do as expected, but that keeps things interesting. Plan by the quarter but don’t over plan. Produce a detailed plan for the first quarter, but then focus on your higher-level objectives for subsequent quarters. That allows you to remain flexible.
Come up with a plan that will be able to stick. It’s simple to have a plan that just sits on the shelf and gets ignored. Success is in delivering the numbers and allowing the business to grow. A marketing plan that’s successful will be one that all of your employees are aligned with, helps everyone work efficiently, and gives you room for innovation, to be creative, and to respond to whatever might come your way throughout the course of the year.
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