As we enter a new year, businesses should be looking ahead and reviewing their goals and targets for 2020. Many will have already completed this as part of their yearly budgeting process. One of the biggest tasks for any company is to formulate a marketing plan for the next 12 months. A marketing plan is vital to keeping you and your team focused and on track. Whilst it might be tempting to create a plan which goes beyond the next year, be mindful that much can change in 12 months. Even your one-year plan should be continuously reviewed and updated as necessary.
Here, we look at the key components of a marking plan.
Set a goal
This is vital to measuring the success of your plan. A goal is something you can continuously refer back to, ensuring everything you do relates to your overall aim. When making decisions about marketing, always have your goal at the back of your mind and ask if your actions fulfil the aims of your goal.
Don’t just set an end-of-year goal. Create goals for key points, or the half-way point. Setting a goal for six-months will help you stay on track for your end-of-year goal and give a realistic idea if this is achievable.
Set a budget
It’s important to set a budget for marketing early on. It’s no good creating a plan detailing big budget advertising campaigns if this isn’t achievable with the funds available. A budget will help you be realistic about your plan and the constraints of what can be achieved throughout the rest of the year.
For many businesses, marketing budgets are often determined by annual sales revenues, with a percentage of this being allocated up to around 10 per cent. However, if you are a start-up business and don’t yet have funds available from sales, you may need to invest more in marketing from the outside to drive business.
Your budget should then be broken down for each month. You may want more for particular months, such as for seasonal campaigns.
What strategies you will adopt
Next you need to figure out what are the best strategies for achieving your goal, and you are going to implement them. Detail the things you need to do to achieve the strategies, so it is clear to you and your team exactly what needs to happen.
This will include deciding where to focus your marketing, and how much you will use each of the resources available. How much will be based around social media, television, consumer magazines, newspapers, radio, direct mail, point of purchase, trade publications, content marketing etc? You need to decide which will work best for your business and how. Does it make sense to focus on just a few, or can you justify using them all? This will bring you back to your budget and what you can afford, as well as your goal and what you hope to achieve.
A timeline is really important to keep you on track. Set deadlines for when you want to achieve specific targets. Be prepared to alter these when things don’t go according to plan, but a rough guide of when things should be done will mean that your end goal should be achieved by the end of the year if deadlines are met.
Major campaigns take time and resources to implement. These should be included in your timeline first, so everything else fits in around them. Detail is key to ensuring major campaigns run smoothly, hopefully ensuring they aren’t delayed by lack of preparation.
It can be overwhelming looking at your marketing plan for the year, particularly one which is ambitious. However, sharing out the workload and breaking it down into small segments will help ensure it is achieved.
Everyone on the team should know what they are responsible for when it comes to a marketing plan. Detail who is responsible for what, so that all staff have a clear idea of what their own individual targets are.
Start by allocating the major campaigns, breaking them down into achievable aims for individuals. Consider the resources you have available to you, and who needs to do what to achieve the actions to complete it. What do you need to outsource?
Don’t leave evaluating your marketing plan until this time next year. Continuous evaluation of your plan will ensure that you learn from any mistakes or hiccups along the way. If something didn’t work, figure out why, and see if you can make changes to avoid it happening again.
Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. All businesses make mistakes. The key is to ensure you learn from them. Turn mistakes and failures into positives, by using them to guide you going forward. This is particularly important for start-up businesses, which will be shaped in the early years.
At the end of the year, have a thorough review of your marketing plan, and use it to help shape the one for the following year.