As we enter the last quarter of the year, many of you are thinking about next year’s marketing plan. A lot of marketers find it easiest to create a new marketing plan each year by making changes to last year’s plan.
But if you really want your marketing planning to pay off this year in better results, you might want to consider going in a different direction. Starting from scratch is more work, but it will serve you better than starting with a marketing plan that isn’t right for your business.
Step 1: Base your marketing planning on data.
Instead of starting with last year’s plan, start with last year’s data. Analyze the results from your marketing activities last year in order to better understand what’s working and what should be dropped or tweaked to get better results this year.
Your marketing analytics will provide you with a clear picture of how you’re doing now and what goals are realistic for the next 12 months. They’ll make it easier for you to get specific in defining what you want to achieve and help outline the best path to getting there.
- Make sure your data’s accurate. Don’t let concerns about your data keep you from moving forward, but do give it a closer look to make sure it’s accurate and complete. You don’t have to fix it all at once if you find it’s less than stellar, but you can make sure not to lean too much on the aspects that are less reliable.
- Get it out of spreadsheets and into a format you can use. Spreadsheets are useful for some purposes, but they’re not great for collecting, sharing, and analyzing marketing data. You’ll have a much easier time turning your marketing data into valuable insights you can use if you ditch the spreadsheets and switch to a more visual format.
Step 2: Align your marketing plan to your goals.
Even if you begin with your goals in mind as you create your marketing plan, you might find it easy to get off track. The ideal is to find a way to keep your marketing goals aligned with your plan both at the point of creation, as well as throughout execution.
That can be challenging when you have a lot of different departments with smaller goals and their own subsections of the marketing plan. You can make sure all the moving parts stay connected and are kept in line with the help of technology that makes those connections visible. Marketing performance management software will consistently show you a picture of how your particular actions and campaigns relate back to your overall goals, so you know when to stay on track and when to course correct for better results mid-quarter.
- Have a hierarchy of goals. Too many goals can become a distraction, but having only high-level goals can make it hard for individuals and departments to have something tangible to work toward. Establish your high-level goals first, then break those down into smaller goals that will contribute to achieving the high-priority ones.
- Tie it all back to revenue. Revenue attribution has never been easy, but marketing technology is finally placing it securely within reach for businesses. Make sure that your marketing plan and goals relate back to the ultimate goal of earning your company more money.
Step 3: Make sure your marketing plan includes other departments.
Businesses see better results when different departments work together. Recent marketing research found that top performing marketing organizations are nearly 8 times as likely to be working to integrate their message across sales, marketing, and customer service, and they’re over 17 times as likely to be collaborating with other teams.
Everything just works better when everyone at the company sees the other departments as colleagues working toward a common goal. That kind of collaboration and cooperation doesn’t happen on its own, you have to work for it, and that work starts with your marketing planning. Make working with your sales and customer service departments a key part of your plan and make sure the plan you’re creating incorporates their feedback.
When you have more people on your side (and they know you have their back), your work will only get easier and the results will follow.
- Make sure you use the same language. The tricky thing about language is that we often assume people know exactly what we’re saying without bothering to clarify definitions. Don’t fall into that trap. Clarify definitions and keep communication lines open so you always know you’re all on the same page.
- Share metrics. Data silos don’t do anyone any good. Share relevant metrics with other teams so everyone can easily stay on top of where you are and how well you’re progressing toward shared goals
Planning season may not be a time of the year you particularly look forward to, but you can use it as an opportunity this year to really get your marketing team on the right path to better results. If your marketing plan leads to higher returns by this time next year, planning season may even become a time you do look forward to in the future.Icon made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com is licensed under CC BY 3.0