The end of the year is the ideal time to build your marketing plan for the year ahead. After all, having an annual marketing plan offers a high-level view of your marketing program, keeps your marketing team accountable, ensures your budget stays on track and identifies any gaps in your existing strategy.
In order to put together an effective marketing plan, it is vital to include all pertinent information without overwhelming yourself with unnecessary details. Check out our suggestions for must-have elements to make sure your business is ready for the year ahead.
A company snapshot involves analyzing what is and is not working for your business. Going through each element of your business to see what’s most effective can be quite enlightening for your team. While you are certainly focusing on marketing, you will want to look at the business as a whole, too, to see how marketing fits into the big picture.
Only when you understand your target audience and their needs, goals, challenges, and behaviors will you be able to effectively capture their attention and dollars. Working with a media partner like Zimmer that provides a customer needs analysis (CNA), can help you gain a deeper understanding of your target customer. You can utilize this information to create ideal customer profiles, which will help to further guide the creation of your annual marketing plan.
What are your marketing objectives or goals? Be sure to establish SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely) goals that support business growth. Putting these goals and objectives in writing makes them "real" and keeps your team on track while carrying out daily marketing tasks and activities.
Marketing Tactics and Channels
Once you know what your goals are, you must decide what channels and strategies you will use to achieve your goals. Will you focus on branding, take advantage of live endorsements or utilize digital solutions? The options are endless. Based on findings from your company snapshot, perhaps it is time to try something new or rejuvenate an old campaign.
At this point, you’ll be able to build your budget for the year ahead. This is easier than you may imagine. Simply set aside time to review your needs (like the tactics and channels you’ve selected) and compare them with your allotted marketing budget. Making sure you have your budget in line and ready to go will help you find areas where you can save and areas where you can spend a bit more to improve performance.
Finally, you need a way to measure success in the year ahead. Now is the time to identify your KPIs (key performance indicators) to track. Then, you can most easily measure the success of your strategy. Only with a good measurement strategy in place will you be able to determine the actual success of your marketing plan.
While it can be all too easy to relax and take it easy these last few weeks of the year, that would be a big mistake. Now is the time to give your marketing department a great launching point for the year ahead by creating a marketing plan, which can lead to better business in the new year.