Whether you’re a seasoned vet or have been tasked with the job for the first time in your career, outlining a marketing plan for the upcoming year is a huge undertaking.
Responsible for guiding the overall strategy and purpose behind the entire marketing team—even touching cross-functional departments—there is much to consider and account for when building your marketing plan. After all, whatever you create will serve as a benchmark for success, uncovering what is or isn’t working throughout the course of the year.
That’s why it’s crucial to carefully plot each facet while also leaving room for improvement because you can’t predict the future. But you can look back, leveraging your data to make smart decisions moving forward.
This article will help you navigate the key questions you’ll need to answer as you build a marketing plan that will ensure 2018 is your strongest year yet.
1. What did and didn’t work last year?
The easiest jumping off point when looking to develop a new marketing plan is to take a look back at last year’s plan. Even if there wasn’t anything formalized, just diving into the initiatives, campaigns and tactics will provide excellent insight into where your focus should lie.
For example, if improving your newsletter was a key priority last year, how well did you accomplish what you set out to achieve in terms of subscribers, engagement, and conversions?
Then ask yourself:
- Is this still a key priority?
- What can be done for continued growth?
- What resources will be required?
- What does success look like?
You may decide to sunset the newsletter due to dismal results, or maybe you’ll glean some qualitative feedback from subscribers that has left you with a glimmer of hope and the desire to revamp your priorities and strategies.
2. What are your competitors doing?
Don’t let ego get the better of you. You may think you are the best in the market, but that kind of self-indulgent, neglectful thinking will keep you from realizing crucial areas for development and potential growth.
Consider how you stack up in the following areas:
- Content development
- Social media engagement
- Demand generation
- Sales enablement and collateral
Running an audit on your competitors is no small feat, but with this new-found treasure trove of information comes a more insightful and data-driven approach. Without it, your marketing strategy might be aiming high—only to fall short.
Plus, you’ll be able to identify potential opportunities that are unique to the space you can carve out for yourself. It’s a win-win scenario, just the kind I like.
3. Which outcomes are the most important?
There’s no use funneling energy into activities with worthless returns. Everything you do should tie back to a larger business goal. Trust me, I love a good meme as much as the next guy, but does it prove valuable for anyone other than myself? In a business context, no it does not. (See reason 4 in my 9 Crucial Branding Mistakes post.)
As a marketing team that serves many different functions and areas, it’s easy to get swept up with numerous incoming requests, making it difficult to see the forest for the trees.
Outline and prioritize by determining which business goals must be met for any given project. If it doesn’t serve any of the following functions, kick it to the curb:
- Brand awareness
- Lead generation
- Customer acquisition
- Thought leadership
- Customer retention/loyalty
- Website traffic
- Lead management/nurturing
- Repeat clients and/or website visitors
Pave the course for 2018
The marketing plan is about more than the paper, Google sheet or Keynote deck it’s documented on. While it’s important to get something formal in writing, the point is to truly pave the course for what marketing intends to accomplish in the coming year. Even when initiatives, campaigns or tactics might be unsuccessful, the team can still learn and iterate for the future.
Not only that, the plan will also have a direct impact on individual members of the team, their responsibilities and ultimate contributions to the organization. So be thoughtful, be strategic and make 2018 your best year ever.