I know it feels like we are just starting this year, but we are halfway through November, and we should be already thinking about the end of 2016. The end of the year means that it is time to reflect on the past and prepare for the future with a good Marketing Plan review.
Although the options for a Marketing Plan are endless, and there are always options to beef it up with more details, you need at least six components to build a meaningful guide for 2017. Once you have the core plan, you can then build it up with details of the campaigns and programs needed to achieve its objectives.
1. Recap the Previous Year: You should always start by reviewing the previous year. Share key accomplishments and main problems experienced during the year. In this first part of the Marketing Plan, you need to set the stage with highlights from the previous year. Include results based on the data you have available and share effectiveness metrics from a year earlier.
2. Set the Objectives for the New Year: Putting a stake in the ground by setting goals is essential to ensure your Marketing Plan stays on track and prioritize the efforts. It is important to give them more credibility, and tie back to revenue targets and in some cases, the company’s strategic initiatives. Let’s remember Doran’s S.M.A.R.T. way to write business goals and objectives. Ideally speaking, all the objectives should be:
- Specific – target a particular area for improvement
- Measurable – quantify an indicator of progress
- Assignable – specify who will do it
- Realistic – state what results can be achieved realistically given available resources
- Time-related – determine when the results can be achieved
3. Identify the Target Market: Defining your target market is an area you should have input from others in the organization. Much of your Marketing Plan’s success will depend on the sales team agreeing with you on what the ideal customer. You should assess the characteristics of your current clients, as well as review any emerging markets that you could target but may have potentially overlooked in the past. For example, this evaluation will help you determine if you need an acquisition campaign or a retention program. By getting external input and documenting the final target audience, you can ensure everyone is aligned with who should you aim with the marketing efforts.
4. Define the Key Messages: For planning purposes, the key messages you should include in the Marketing Plan are the themes that will help your company appeal to your target market. Defining the key messages is a significant step to understanding what marketing strategies you need to connect with customers. This part should be helpful in determining if you need a campaign or a program if there a need for advertising or public relations, among other strategic decisions.
5. Develop a Calendar: Provide a calendar snapshot of your planned campaigns and programs. Your schedule should take in consideration seasonality and business quota to allocate resources accordingly to the market opportunities. The calendar can be just snapshotted for executive review. At this stage, it is not intended to be a comprehensive calendar with all the tactics.
6. Assign the Budget: Finally, there is the most important part of the Marketing Plan… the budget. The budget needs to be pretty straightforward and should include how it should be allocated. It is always important to include the previous year’s actuals alongside the new year’s budget to provide perspective on what is changing. Also, it should take into consideration marketing effectiveness measurements, including cost-per-acquisition (mCPA), return-on-investment or any other profitability metric aligned to the objectives. For higher returns, start by assigning budget and quotas to effort with your existing customer base. This focus will lower the dependency on mass advertising, a strategy that can be expensive if it is not done correctly.
Are you ready to start thinking about 2017? It is important to start working on your 2017 Marketing Plan and begin the year on the right foot. If you need help, one of our advisors can guide you with the marketing planning process.
DuartePino is a management advisory firm that combines in-depth customer knowledge with practical expertise in marketing to help clients create sustainable business growth. We can provide your organization with a fresh perspective, a proven process that invests in the outcome, and the tools for successful execution. From Fractional CMOs to business advisors, contact us to learn how our team can help with growth strategies for your organization.