If you are an existing business, it is time to review and update your marketing plan! Here are a few steps to prepare for your planning session and create a marketing plan that gets results. If you are a start-up, use the second half of the guiding questions to get started.
How do you get the best results from your marketing plan?
A marketing plan that gets results must be strategic. When developing a strategic marketing plan, you must understand what you want to achieve as a business, have a thorough understanding of your market and your audience(s), and provide the necessary resources to get the job done. You must also include SMART objectives, which are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Include how you will evaluate success (methods and metrics) and a timeline that includes milestone reviews so that you can pivot mid-year if necessary. Your marketing plan is typically done annually and supports your marketing strategy.
Related article: What is the difference between a marketing strategy, plan and campaign.
A marketing plan will include tactics, both digital (e.g. website, social media, video, etc.) and traditional (e.g. print, events, public relations, etc.). Each of these tactics may have their own plans, such as a content marketing and social media plan.
Steps to updating your marketing plan
Get the right people in the room, or at least their insights
First thing you need to do is get all the key decision-makers or support team "in the room" to review and brainstorm ideas for the upcoming year (strategic planning session). This may be a day to get together physically in the same room, or it might be a couple of virtual meetings. Or if you are a one-person business, set aside some time to work through this exercise.
Who are the right people?
Partner(s), marketing team/consultant/director, key stakeholders, or a trusted advisor with experience in business and marketing planning would be helpful. If you are a solopreneur, or a small group, it is recommended that you consult with those who can provide the information you need to make the right decisions.
What to bring to the meeting?
Make sure to bring to the discussion all the information you need to be able to reflect on the past year and plan for the future.
- Samples of marketing work (brochures, advertisements, flyers, digital content)
- Metrics (e.g. website traffic, social media engagement, email campaign metrics, etc)
- Feedback from the audience
- New research (primary or secondary)
- Budget – what was spent, plans for the upcoming year.
Guiding Discussion Questions
Review the past year
- Did you reach your goals last year?
- Where did you fall short, and where did you succeed?
- What were some challenges and successes from last year? What can you do better and what do you want to continue to do?
Looking forward to this year
- What do you have planned for your business this year?
- What are your goals?
- What action items do you have in place to help achieve these goals, and what are their priorities?
- What resources are available? Are there any contingencies with these resources? human resources and financial budget.
- What are your expectations from marketing? What is success? SMART objectives, reporting, etc.
- Capture the notes from your planning session.
- Update your marketing strategy, if necessary - Do you need to change your tactics? E.g. new social media channel, attend tradeshows, change the metrics you are tracking, update insights about your target audiences.
- Develop your marketing plan – including marketing/content calendar and any other campaigns.
- Review and get any necessary approvals
- Gather the necessary resources that you need to get the job done (e.g. interns, employees, freelance creatives, marketing consultant, finances)
- Get started! Put your plan into action.