It feels like we were just finishing up our mid-year marketing plan checkpoint and here we are halfway through September and already thinking about the end of the year. The end of the year means it’s time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future with a marketing plan update.
It’s easy (and ok) to make a marketing plan complex but whether it’s ten slides or as many as 250, you want it to still be useful and manageable. Also, it doesn’t have to be slides. Some people do create Word documents for a plan but in the age of the micro-moment and quick scanning, we feel that slides are the best way to easily articulate the plan. However, if your executive team finds a Word document more appropriate, going that route can be just as efficient.
Although the options for a marketing plan are endless and there’s always room to beef it up and add even more detail, there are six basic, must-have components to build a meaningful plan. Once you have the overall plan in place, you can then build more detailed campaign and communications plans based on what is needed to help you be effective.
The 6 Key Components to a Marketing Plan
Previous Year Recap: You should always level set by recapping the previous year. Share key accomplishments and potential setbacks experienced during the year. In this part of the plan, there is typically a slide for commentary to set the stage with highlights from the previous year. Then there are multiple slides based on the data you have available to share KPIs and ROI from the previous year.
New Year Goals: Putting a stake in the ground by setting goals and objectives is essential to ensure you stay on track and prioritize your efforts. It is appropriate to have both soft and hard objectives. However, make sure that you include quantifiable metrics to measure success. Also, to give them more credibility, these goals should tie back to revenue targets and in some cases, company strategic initiatives.
Key Messages: For plan purposes, the key messages you include are in the main messages or themes that will be woven into your communications and campaigns. Defining them is an important first step but the next piece down is understanding what marketing assets (i.e. eBooks, calculators, videos, infographics, etc.) you have available to support those messages. You should also look for any holes you may have and make a list of content you will create.
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Target Audience: Defining your target audience is an area will you will want input from others in the organization. Much of your success will depend on the sales team agreeing with you on what the ideal profile is for a potential customer. You should review the characteristics of your current customers as well as review any untapped markets that you could serve but may have potentially overlooked in the past. By getting this down on paper as part of the plan, you can ensure everyone is on the same page as to who it is you will be going after with your future marketing campaigns.
Calendar: Provide a calendar snapshot of your planned campaigns. Depending on your business and needs, this can be at a quarterly or monthly basis. Your calendar should really just provide a snapshot of the upcoming year. It is not intended to be a detailed calendar with every tactic. For example, you may have a webinar listed in Q1 but you wouldn’t include the 3 emails and 4 social posts you would have leading up to it.
Budget: Finally, there is the all important budget. A budget is pretty straightforward and should represent what is budgeted and the percentage of the budget it is – such as 20% for tradeshows, 30% is direct mail, 15% for tools and technology, etc. Additionally, it may be worthwhile to include the previous year’s actuals alongside the new year’s budget to provide perspective on what is changing.
Are you ready to start thinking about next year’s marketing plan? After going through the process of completing the 6 must-haves above, take a look at our template library and work on creating individual plans for each part of your marketing strategy. Start working on your 2017 marketing plan update and get next year started on the right foot.