Ideally, marketing planning is like career or job planning. The development of the annual marketing strategy, whether it is for an internet / ecommerce business or offline business, should be done at the end of the year. It should be based on market research. This applies to small as well as corporate businesses and not for profit organizations.
How To Write An Annual Marketing Plan
This guide to an annual marketing plan shows what needs to be done, how to do it and pitfalls to look out for. This marketing plan should ideally support and complement business plan.
An annual marketing plan ideally should have the following elements (basics of marketing):
- Mission statement
- Description of your niche markets
- Detailed description of your products or services
- List of your closest competitors
- Marketing goals
- Marketing calendar with monthly and weekly list of marketing activities to be completed
- Marketing mix – advertising, public relations, media, corporate communications, promotions, events etc
- Description of how the marketing campaigns will be monitored and measured
When you have finished doing everything suggested in this easy How-To marketing tutorial, you will have a blueprint of your marketing efforts. It will give you a lot of clarity, especially when you are working in a team. Make sure you revisit the plan every year, as well as during the year.
Now, whether you are selling watches or digital products, it is important to watch your spend to make sure that your marketing ROI (return on investment) is on track.
But Why Should You Plan?
It gives you a lot of clarity of purpose
You can control your expenses
When you are working in a team, or with external agencies or suppliers, you everyone knows knows who-does-what
You can take corrective action if the marketing plan is not progressing as desired
Are You Ready To Begin?
Just answer the following questions, and you will have the blueprint of your marketing plan in less than 90 minutes:
- Which of my marketing and selling activities bought the most business for me last year? Was it public relations, events and conferences, social media, print advertising, Google Adwords, SEO marketing and so on
- What mistakes did I make that I should avoid this year?
- What worked well, but I can improve on this year?
- What can I learn from my successful campaigns last year?
- What can I learn from my campaign that did not perform well last year?
- What is my target market like this year? Which factors of my market changed – geography, demography, income, habits, culture etc.
- Has my competition changed? How?
- If my target market or competition has changed, what do I need to do to adopt to that change?
- Now that I know my target market, and I know what worked last year, which marketing channels will I use this year?
- How much am I willing to spend this year? What's my marketing budget? How do i intend to spend it?
- How will I monitor my campaign?
Now that we have an overview, break this strategy down into monthly marketing plan. Chart out monthly and if required weekly activities.
Identify key events that are likely to influence your marketing calendar. Is there an industry event or international trade show coming up? Are there local elections? Is there a major sporting event?
Make sure you are realistic in your marketing strategies and in your marketing plan. Try to spell out as many details as possible. Leave some scope for contingencies.
Now that you have the blue print, do not forget the key point – action. Act on your plan, re-visit it often and change your course if required.
Your marketing plan is just that – a plan. Nothing is set in stone. If marketing environment changes be prepared to change.