How organized are your marketing efforts? Do you take the time each year to map out a cohesive strategy for the upcoming year? Will next year be business as usual and simply repeat the efforts done in previous years without regard to the success of these strategies? Are you simply going to read a few blogs highlighting current marketing trends and implement the key talking points you find in them?
Your marketing efforts are critical to the success of your business. They are the primary way to connect with your audience, grow your brand and establish yourself as a trusted industry leader. However, these things don’t happen on their own. It takes a well planned, cohesive marketing strategy to ensure your precious resources – both financial and manpower – are used wisely and maximize the return on your investment.
We’re firmly in the fourth quarter of the year, and this is the time to conduct annual planning. While it’s important to invest the time in an annual plan that addresses your overall business goals, you also need to create a specific annual marketing plan that will help you achieve these overarching business initiatives. Ideally, this plan should be finalized and ready to go at the start of January so that you can hit the ground running next year. In order for that to happen, you need to begin your annual marketing planning now.
At Webolutions, our purpose is To Empower Passionate People to Thrive. This drives everything we do for our clients, and it has compelled us to go beyond simply providing marketing services. In order to ensure our efforts generate the best possible results for our clients, we actively engage them in an annual planning process each year which helps them crystalize their goals for their marketing efforts. This plan then forms the blueprint for our ongoing recommendations as the year progresses.
In order to better understand what is involved in annual marketing planning, we recommend reading the following article from HubSpot:
Key Takeaways from this Article
This article breaks down the process of creating your annual marketing plan into three parts:
- Outlining your marketing plan
- Creating your marketing plan
- Creating a marketing plan timeline
While there is significant overlap between the components of these parts, it’s beneficial to examine each one separately.
Outlining Your Marketing Plan
The more granular you get in your marketing plan outline, the easier it will be to create and implement this plan. In addition, having a strong outline will provide important guidance regarding the metrics you should use to assess the success of your efforts.
Your marketing plan outline should include the following elements:
- Business summary – A summary of your organization that includes your company name, where you’re headquartered and your mission statement.
- Business initiatives – This should focus on specific initiatives related to marketing as opposed to big-picture company initiatives.
- Customer analysis – Conduct some market research to build your buyer personas (a fictional description of the traits associated with your ideal customer).
- Competitor analysis – As part of your market research, evaluate your primary competitors to more clearly understand what they do well and potential opportunities for you to provide value to your customers/clients that they do not.
- SWOT analysis – Conduct a deep dive into your business to identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. The strengths and weaknesses should focus on internal items specific to your company, while opportunities and threats should focus on external items related to the state of the world today.
- Market strategy – Based on the legwork completed in the previous steps, create a plan for how your business should compete in your market. This can include items such as product/service mix, price, process, and more.
- Budget – Determine how much money your company is going to dedicate to the marketing team in order to pursue the initiatives and goals you’ve established in this outline.
- Marketing channels – Identify the marketing channels you’ll use to publish the content that will educate your audience, convey your brand story, and generate leads.
- Financial projections – Based on the budget you set and the marketing channels you choose, you can develop financial projections that establish your expected ROI for your marketing efforts. While these won’t be 100% accurate, they will provide a useful guide to measure your results against over the coming year.
See our article: How to Get Your Marketing Budget Approved
FREE Annual Planning Consultation with a Webolutions Expert
Creating Your Marketing Plan
This article outlines a 5-step process to creating your annual marketing plan:
- Conduct a situation analysis – Use your SWOT analysis and your competitor analysis to develop a clear understanding of your market positioning. As part of this process, identify what you can offer that gives your company a competitive advantage and make you stand apart from others in your industry.
- Define your target audience – Use the buyer personas created during the outline phase to understand what your ideal customer wants. This information can be used to help you define your goals (to be created in the next step).
- Write SMART goals – You can’t improve the ROI on your marketing efforts without a clear understanding of your goals. Use the information generated from your situation analysis and defining your target audience to create SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound. The SMART goals you establish will be used to identify the best tactics to achieve these goals.
- Analyze your tactics – Once you’ve defined your goals, determine which marketing tactics will most effectively achieve these goals.
- Set your budget – Before you begin implementing the tactics identified in step 4, you’ll need to set your budget for each tactic. This budget should include the time, financial resources, assets, and manpower required to implement the tactics in your marketing plan.
Creating Your Marketing Plan Timeline
Since this is an annual plan, you need to establish a timeline for implementing the different components of this plan. This allows your team to understand all appropriate deadlines for the projects, campaigns and events associated with your marketing plan. If you prefer greater granularity, you can break up this timeline on a quarterly basis.
When creating deadlines for the components of your marketing plan, make sure to:
- Estimate how long each task will take
- Account for holidays and other special events which may impact the ability of your team to complete these tasks
As you work through the tasks in your plan, track the time it takes to complete them. This will allow you to compare the actual time to your time estimates to determine how accurate your estimates are. If necessary, you may need to adjust some of your upcoming deadlines to reflect the actual amount of time these tasks have taken to complete.
Use Pre-Existing Templates to Organize Your Efforts
The article also provides several marketing plan templates you can use as you work through this three-stage process. Using one of these templates may help you stay organized and ensure you don’t skip an important step in the process.
Additional Resources to Help You Understand How to Conduct Annual Marketing Planning
We recommend the following articles to further expand your knowledge of how to conduct your annual marketing planning. Many of the tips you’ll find in these articles are similar to the takeaways from the HubSpot article, but when taken together, they can help give you a deeper insight into how to approach this process.
- How to Create a Winning Marketing Plan
- 6 Steps to Simply Build Your Annual Marketing Plan
- Developing an Annual Marketing Plan for the New Year
Putting this Information into Practice
Creating an annual marketing plan can be a daunting process. The key to navigating this process is to take it step by step. By working through all the components listed above in sequential order, you’ll compile the data necessary to understand your goals. This will then help you identify the right tactics to include in your plan.
Let Webolutions Help
At Webolutions, we provide comprehensive strategic marketing services to help your business grow and thrive. We leverage our exclusive Intrinsic Multiplier™ Approach when working with our clients on annual planning. This unique approach leads you on a collaborative journey to identify what is special about your company. As part of this journey, we will work through the components of the marketing plan outline to understand your specific goals and the best way to position you as an industry leader.
Based on these goals, we’ll recommend a tactical strategy to best use your resources in order to convey your brand story, generate more leads, and grow your client/customer base. We’ll also set up Real-Time Performance Intelligence Dashboards which provide up-to-date data regarding the performance of your marketing efforts in an organized, visual, easy to understand format. This data will help us make any adjustments as needed over the course of the year to more effectively achieve your goals.
Webolutions is a full-spectrum management consulting and strategic growth implementation company. We help businesses across the country identify and effectively bring their unique story to life, allowing them to scale faster, smarter, and easier.
Areas of expertise:
- Differentiating Brand Development
- Marketing & Communications Strategies
- Customer Journey Mapping & Execution
- Enterprise Website & Application Development
- Cross-Platform Data Systems Integration
- Organizational Development Strategies
- Team Alignment, Culture, & Performance Solutions
- Business Performance Intelligence Systems
To speak with one of our experts about how we can help you implement a successful annual planning rhythm for your company of at least $5 million in annual sales, call us at 303-300-2640 and request a Free Annual Planning Consultation. During this 60-minute introduction, we’ll help you start outlining your plan. You can also email any questions to [email protected].