How to build a winning Marketing Plan for 2024

A marketing plan is the most significant and strategic document marketers will create in a year.  The issue is that marketers don’t always approach it in that manner. Many of us rush to finish our plans at the end of the year to meet deadlines related to executive team presentations because the urgent often seems to take precedence over the important. The marketing plans are frequently developed in isolation, with little input from the product team or sales.

This article will dive deep into how you can avoid the common planning mistakes in marketing and set your year up for success.

Why do marketing plans fail

Here are the top five reasons marketers conduct directionless marketing campaigns and cause the marketing plan to fail:

  1. The team could not use the marketing plan created because it was not sufficiently detailed.
  2. The team defaulted to what they know how to do rather than operating in a way that is in line with the objectives because they never fully understood how the marketing strategies fit with their roles.
  3. Although the plan was sound, it is currently hidden in a presentation deck and will never be used.
  4. Each team member created their own plan, which was never incorporated into all marketing activities.
  5. There wasn’t a thorough, goal-oriented plan.

Key questions and elements for a marketing plan

There are a number of questions you should ask whenever new campaigns or initiatives are introduced in order to make sure you are aligned with the marketing strategies and do not get sucked into the busywork marketing cycle.

  1. What is the objective that we are aiming to achieve?
  2. What is the best tactic, strategy, and channel to achieve this objective?
  3. Who are the intended recipients?
  4. Based on their needs, what are the messages we want to convey to that target audience?
  5. Is there a connection to a bigger theme here?
  6. What are the metrics for success?

Excellent marketing leaders also create and oversee a comprehensive system-wide view of marketing for their organization. An integrated marketing system view, such as this image from plannuh, is important. This will help marketers understand the entire go-to-market system.

Integrated marketing system

What is a marketing plan?

Marketers and businesses use a marketing plan as a strategic road map to plan, carry out, and monitor their marketing strategy, tactics, and campaigns over a specific time frame. According to PR Smith’s SOSTAC model a marketing plan should contain the following elements:

  1. Situational analysis (historical data)
  2. Market research and analysis
  3. Company goals
  4. Marketing goals (these roll up to company goals)
  5. Marketing strategies
  6. Target audience (segmentation and need)
  7. Positioning and messaging
  8. Product and services direction and definition
  9. Pricing and packaging
  10. Competitive analysis
  11. Sales channel strategy (distribution model, customer acquisition and lifetime value)
  12. Sales support (messaging, training, tools)
  13. Partner/channel strategy
  14. Product and services launches
  15. Campaigns
  16. Marketing channels/vehicles (PR, trade shows, social, email, website, direct mail, etc.)
  17. Programs
  18. Marketing activity timeline/calendar
  19. Marketing team structure/growth/responsibilities (org chart)
  20. Technology (software)
  21. 21. Budget allocation
  22. 22. Testing (messages, ideas, markets)
  23. Metrics
  24. Assumptions, Dependencies, and risk

You might not be in charge of all of these plan components unless you are the director of marketing or the director of marketing operations. However, each person contributes to the success of the plan, so find out more about your role with your team.

Situation analysis

Utilize the knowledge gained from the prior year and make a current assessment of your company’s position in the market. Analyze past performance data and perform a SWOT analysis to get a more in-depth understanding of your current situation.

Examples:

• SWOT analysis
• Sales numbers
Lead gen numbers
• Win/loss analysis
• Marketing team skill set

Market Research and Analysis

The process of gathering data on consumer wants and needs for analysis and decision-making. For goals and strategy decision-making, your marketing plan should integrate your situation analysis and market research.

Example:

  • Analyst report data
  • Competitive analysis
  • Independent surveys
  • Economic conditions
  • Expansion opportunities • Technology trends

Company goals

This refers to business goals that marketing will help to achieve. Typically, this would be sales, new customers, retention of customers, and product marketing.

Examples:

  • Revenue goals
  • Net promoter score
  • Awareness

Marketing Goals

These goals are more tactical and derived from company goals. It’s one layer deeper and more specific on how marketing can measure their contribution to the company goals.

Examples:

  • Click through rate
  • Reach
  • brand Lift
  • Number of PR articles
  • Number of shares

Marketing strategies

A marketing strategy is a proactive approach and a comprehensive game plan for any company. Achieving sustainable growth and competitive advantage is the strategy’s goal. You can use various tactics to accomplish various objectives. Create strategies in your marketing plan for achieving each of your objectives.

Examples:

  • Search engine optimization
  • Examples of marketing strategies
  • Growth
  • Promotional
  • Expansion (new markets)
  • Competitive replacement
  • Land and expand
  • Wedge issue
  • Product/services leadership
  • Customer retention/ loyalty
  • Content marketing
  • Viral marketing

Target Audience

The ideal target person or company who will likely find value in your product. Essentially, your potential customer. Having an ideal customer allows you to build an impactful message and campaign.

Positioning and Messaging

A positioning statement includes your product or service definition, benefits of the offering, a target audience, their needs or wants, and how you differ from the competition. A messaging guide should contain the supporting messages that flow from the positioning statement. The messaging guide ensures that the message is consistent across various communications with various audiences. Your strategy should include both the positioning statement and topline messages.

Product and Service Direction

The product roadmap strategy must be incorporated into the plan for businesses where brand management or product management is included in the marketing function. In order to prepare for go-to-market launches, it will be crucial to have a clear understanding of what is to come.

Pricing and packaging

The process of determining the best price that the customer will pay for your goods and services while taking into account profitability and competition. Based on the requirements of the target audience, packaging develops product/service configurations. Both are vital components of your marketing strategy.

Competitive analysis

A competitive analysis evaluates the advantages and disadvantages of your competitors. This assessment provides a strategic context that is both offensive and defensive to support a distinct competitive messaging.

Sales channel strategy

The main goal of marketing is to increase sales to support the company, so a crucial part of the marketing plan will be to explain how the marketing strategy fits with the sales strategy.

Sales support

It is crucial to have a sales support strategy and a tactical execution plan if the product you sell is complex or requires a lengthy evaluation process before a purchase, such as an automobile or enterprise software. This will include tools to help them close deals and sales training. Include a sales support strategy in your marketing plan if needed.

Partner/Channel Strategy

Some businesses only engage in direct sales to customers, but the majority either fully utilize indirect selling or combine direct and indirect selling. This is a company’s sales strategy if they only sell indirectly.

Product and service launches

A key component of the marketing strategy will be to plan out the launches of new products and services in conjunction with the roadmap. One of the most crucial campaign types is the launch of new products.

Campaigns

Campaigns are large-scale marketing initiatives that have measurable goals, a defined target audience, promote a predetermined set of messages, and use multiple channels of communication. Campaigns typically have a deadline. The marketing plan should cover every campaign.

Marketing Channels

A marketing channel is a means of getting your main points across to the intended audience. The best marketing channels should be chosen based on the target audience’s habits, including where they go, what they read, and watch, and who they consult. Determining which of the many offline and online marketing channels has the best chance of connecting with your target audience is essential to building a relationship.

Programs

Programs are ongoing projects with objectives and a budget but are not always time- or audience-bound. Since many of the activities are developed throughout the course of the year due to opportunistic marketing, programs are not campaigns.

Marketing activity

All of the major plan milestones are included in the timeline for marketing activities. The timeline will include campaigns, product launches, significant occasions, etc. The timeline will be included in a more thorough project plan that will be developed separately from your strategic marketing plan.

Marketing team and structure

Your marketing plan must make sense to support any additional staffing and offer a framework for the new team member’s success.

Technology – Software

Include the systems you currently use for marketing as well as any new ones you intend to implement. Talk about any efficiency improvements the marketing team might experience due to technology.

Budget allocation

Include a topline budget that is segmented by time, campaigns, and key functions. Budgeting is an essential step in the process and is required to carry out your plan as intended. Create your strategy first, then specify the resources you’ll need to carry it out.

Testing

There are various ways to test. Using a test market is a good way to gather information on a particular demographic or geo to determine consumer interest in a product or service before launch. A/B testing compares different messages to ascertain cu stomer preferences. Focus groups and surveys can also help gather insightful information to boost marketing effectiveness.

Metrics of achievement

The metrics refer to the measurement of crucial, goal-based performance indicators that reflect marketing effectiveness. The majority of marketing metrics serve as gauges of sales effectiveness and ought to be evaluated in terms of return on investment.

Assumptions, Dependencies, and risks

Now that you have a plan, including a list of presumptions that must be true for it to work as well as the dependencies your team will need. Recognize the main internal and external risks to the marketing plan’s successful implementation. Lastly, prepare best case and worst case scenarios using scenario planning.

Conclusion

Thinking through all the elements of the marketing plan list above might seem daunting. By developing the plan in collaboration with your marketing team, you can ensure that everyone is focused on what is important, rather than marketing in silos. Agile marketing starts with planning.

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