Developing Your Marketing Plan

An annual marketing plan helps keep businesses on track with goals and objectives for the year and ensures that your marketing opportunities are maximized. A solid marketing plan should be structured with a disciplined approach to reaching your business goals and objectives, yet flexible enough to adapt to changing market conditions and business opportunities throughout the year.

Review Previous Marketing Performance

Before you begin the annual planning process for the coming year’s marketing efforts, you’ll want to take a close look at how you performed over the past year to review past marketing activities and results.

Here are some questions to ask when evaluating the performance of a previous annual marketing plan or year’s activities:

  • Did you achieve desired results from your marketing efforts (such as improved brand recognition, X number of leads generated or sales/revenue figures)?
  • Which specific marketing activities were/were not effective?
  • Should you reallocate resources to better performing targets, markets or marketing tactics?
  • Has your target market, audience or geographic area changed over the year?
  • Were you able to stay within a marketing budget at the end of the year?
  • What areas of your marketing budget do you need to invest more in/cut costs in for the coming year?

The answers to these questions will play a big part in building an annual marketing plan for the coming year. Each year adjustments should be made to your marketing planning efforts that incorporate learning from the past – what works or what doesn’t work.

Develop Essential Components of your Marketing Plan

The first step in developing an annual marketing plan is getting organized. Make a list of all the marketing components or categories that are important for your business.

Typical components in a marketing plan include:

  • Advertising (print and/or online)
  • Branding and Graphics (promotional items/branded merchandise, photography, video production, graphic development)
  • Collateral (sell sheets, brochures, business cards)
  • Events (trade shows, webinars)
  • Direct Marketing (email, direct mail, list generation, promotional incentives/contests)
  • Public Relations (press release distribution, PR agency)
  • Research (focus groups, surveys, marketing reference books)
  • Social Media (social media networks)
  • Website (search engine optimization, web development/hosting)

Of course the actual components for your business may vary depending on your business, industry and marketing budget. The important thing is to identify all the potential components in your marketing plan so you can decide how to address those components for your business. Be sure to allocate budget and resources to every category you plan on marketing in so strategies and tactics can be planned and implemented easily.

Define Marketing Plan Strategies, Tactics and Budget

Once marketing components are outlined for the business, all potential strategies and tactics should be defined per category or component.

Here is an example of defining strategies and tactics for the “advertising” category:

Marketing Category: Advertising
Strategy #1 – Drive traffic to website via print mailing
Tactic # 1 – Include a promotional code for a product/service redeemable on your site
Tactic #2 – Email blast to recipients after mailing is sent
Tactic #3 – Targeted phone call follow up to specific prospects/customers

Each tactic will also need to have an allocated budget, if applicable. The marketing plan should allow you to track your allocated budget, actual spend, and budget variance so you can make any adjustments as needed. For example, if you are tracking under budget in one category you can shift funds to another category where you may be tracking over budget.

Flexibility in an annual marketing plan throughout the year is important to adapt to a changing business environment and be “opportunistic” in marketing efforts. Be sure to take advantage of available tracking tools for marketing efforts whenever possible so that you can make adjustments to maximize performance of campaigns (or dump marketing efforts that are not producing desired results).

Metron can assist you in the creation and implementation of your marketing plan. We’ll help you in setting and achieving goals so you can measure the performance of your marketing tactics and get real, lasting results. Contact us today and let us know how we can help.