Why You Need an Annual Marketing Plan
There are many reasons why annual planning should be a top priority for the marketing strategy of every company. Unfortunately, too many businesses view an annual marketing plan more as a luxury than a necessity. Along with helping companies implement marketing strategies more effectively, an annual marketing plan will save time, money, effort that can be used elsewhere and to stay the course.
Here is a closer look at why every marketing department should engage in and develop an annual marketing plan and how it benefits every stage of the marketing campaign.
The first and most obvious benefit of creating an annual marketing plan is its impact on the strategic marketing efforts of the marketing department. The essence of marketing is to attract and win customers. Attracting and winning those customers happens through processes designed to stir interest and share information that produces qualified leads and ultimately customers.
Strategic marketing will enable companies and organizations to best utilize their resources to best focus on the most promising opportunities (e.g. customers). The end goal is to eventually achieve a sustainable and competitive advantage to increase sales and meet business goals.
Knowing how to attract those customers and which customers to target, however, is where strategic marketing flexes its power and purpose. That is also why strategic marketing works as an integral part of creating an annual marketing plan.
Sales and Marketing Alignment
Many companies have had to deal with the problem of sales and marketing alignment. More accurately, that problem is a lack of sales and marketing alignment. The primary reason this occurs is due to not having or implementing an annual marketing plan.
The greatest issue when companies recognize this problem is that it is too late to recover the resources invested in both their marketing and sales efforts. That means that the time lost can’t be recovered and it is often well into the fiscal year before companies become aware of their lack of sales and marketing alignment issues.
When sales and marketing alignment works, the results look like increased leads, improved quality of leads, more customers and increased sales. Equally as important is the efficiency a solid sales and marketing alignment structure provides. Without an annual marketing plan and strategic marketing techniques, it is essentially impossible to have strong sales and marketing alignment.
Once a company determines who its customers are and how to attract them, it is the job of marketing tactics to influence, attract and win those customers. The right marketing tactics are also an aspect of the annual marketing plan that can’t be implemented without the proper data and information.
The annual marketing plan and specifically the marketing strategy is also where those marketing tactics are defined. It is also how businesses know what marketing tactics to use. Knowing which marketing tactics to use before rolling out the marketing campaign will also save valuable time, money and resources.
Another benefit of having the best marketing tactics in place is that it also permits companies to employ these tools from day one. That equates to getting the most out of the annual marketing plan, the marketing strategy and the marketing tactics, the tools used to make those plans a reality.
Without marketing goals, it is difficult to measure success, define benchmarks or see the steps needed to achieve the desired business goals. The good news is that marketing goals become fairly simple to distinguish once a solid annual marketing plan and marketing strategy are in place.
Marketing goals also help motivate, guide and unify the marketing department. When everyone is on the same page, it is easier to align efforts and maintain aspects such as sales and marketing alignment. Having marketing goals is also a primary motivator allowing the sales team and marketing staff to excel and focus on specific and attainable goals.
While business goals and marketing goals are different, marketing goals are ultimately there to support the business goals. An annual marketing plan will not define the business goals, but it will consider and use them as its guide.
The annual marketing plan is more of a necessity than a luxury and creating an annual marketing plan (and marketing strategy) will act as the guideposts for the entire marketing department. When those marketing plans are led by the business goals, it will help ensure the marketing department works in chorus with other company departments. That includes keeping the accounting and production or service departments in unison with the marketing department and vice versa.
Regardless of how well-planned any marketing strategy and annual marketing plan is, however, without the ability to gauge and understand its success in real-time, a piece of the puzzle will be missing.
Measurement and Analytical Tools
The value of measuring the success of the marketing strategy, the marketing tactics and even the annual marketing plan itself is invaluable. Without measurement and analytical tools, necessary data like closing rates, engagement rates or ROI is impossible to determine.
Like any marketing plan, each part of the plan is connected and interdependent on the others. With effective measurement and analytical tools, it is easier to determine if there is an issue in areas like lead development or with one or more marketing tactics.
Measurement and analytical tools enable department managers the ability to address and fix these issues and to keep the marketing strategy running effectively and efficiently.