What are some tips for developing an annual marketing plan?

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Answered by: Robert, An Expert in the Marketing Plan/Strategy Category
Developing a robust annual marketing plan is an essential tool for achieving your sales and marketing goals. This plan should guide your marketing efforts for the year, organizing all elements into a single document. Keep these eight tips in mind as you develop your next plan.

1. Assess your past marketing efforts.

Begin by thoroughly reviewing the previous year’s work to see which elements were successful and which elements were not. Next, evaluate all of your existing marketing materials. Determining what gaps should be filled by altogether new work, what pieces simply need to be refreshed and what pieces are still useful in their current state.

2. Talk to your sales team.

Ask what new tools they would find beneficial and if their competition has any materials they wish they had too. Observe the work that goes into a sale and consider how marketing can assist those functions. Far too often, the materials developed by the marketing team are not useful to the sales team, rendering the development of those materials a waste of time and resources. Effective marketing materials will assist the sales team in moving prospects towards a sale.

3. Profile your target audience.

In order to be effective, your marketing efforts must be reaching the right people. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming that you have been communicating with the correct group all along. Even if you have had significant success in the past, your target audience will likely evolve over time. As you develop marketing materials, keep your target audience in mind.

4. Develop your value proposition.

Review your features and benefits and consider their importance to your target audience. Then take a look at your competition and determine your competitive advantages. Your value proposition should include points that are important to your target audience and provide advantages over your competition. This proposition should flow through all of your marketing materials and communications.

5. Set goals for the year.

Decide what you want to achieve and state it clearly in your plan. These goals should be specific and concise, such as identifying a certain number of sales leads or attracting a certain amount of website traffic. Your marketing plan should be a roadmap to achieving those goals.

6. Determine your strategy.

Your strategy should be the means by which you will achieve your goals. Included in your strategy should be all the tactics that you plan to utilize, such as content creation, media, and public relations, as well as the timeframe for their execution. This section will be the most detailed part of your marketing plan.

7. Prioritize your budget.

Unfortunately, you will very likely be working with a budget that will not provide you with enough flexibility to execute everything you desire. Review your plans and determine which tactics will go the farthest towards helping you achieve your goals for the year. Some tactics can be pared back, while others will need to be cut altogether. Demonstrating a strong return on investment is essential in the modern business climate.

8. Review your annual marketing plan monthly or quarterly.

Remember that this plan is your roadmap for the year. Review it often to make sure you remain on target to achieve your goals. Remain open to making adjustments as needed along the way.

The time spent developing your marketing plan will pay dividends over the course of the year by focusing your marketing efforts into an executable form. By organizing your efforts into a single plan, you will give yourself a great chance for success.

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