The drawing to a close of 2012 and start of 2013 is a great time to revisit and revise your company’s marketing plan. Use this opportunity to make sure that the marketing plan is attuned to your business’ realities and its objectives for the coming year.
Some companies use a quarterly rolling approach to marketing planning. Those firms formally modify and record their go-to-market targets and tactics on a regular basis in order to capture and adjust to buyers’ behaviors, track the performance and effectiveness of campaigns and ensure alignment with the corporation’s goals.
There are plenty of other companies that, if they’ve created a marketing plan at all, only work on the document annually. These firms dust off their marketing plans once a year and then attempt to accurately predict what will occur during the upcoming 12 months.
This is a sub-optimal business practice, for as economists and political pundits should acknowledge, it is incredibly difficult to correctly forecast what will occur over the course of a year. Refining and retuning should be done during as real-world events unfold.
Whether your company does its marketing planning frequently, infrequently or somewhere in between, take the time soon to revisit key sections of your plan and ask the following questions:
Corporate Objectives – Have the corporation’s goals shifted? Is the business’ priority to increase market share, enhance profitability, raise funding, expand its product line or something else? Has the market landscape changed due to the emergence or withdrawal of a competitor?
Revenue Objectives – Are new revenue targets in place? Have the quarterly numbers been adjusted? Do the sales forecasts support them? What is the probability that they’ll be met or exceeded?
Success Metrics – Is the marketing team testing, adjusting and measuring results? If the corporate objectives have been modified, should marketing put new metrics in place? Will new measurement tools need to be implemented?
Target Audience – Is the company still selling to the same buyers? Have buyers’ preferences and behaviors remained constant or have they changed? Are there new influencers in the market? Are the buyer and influencer personas that have been developed still accurate or should they be modified?
Marketing Objectives – Given the company’s current priorities, is the marketing team focused on the correct initiatives? Is the team going after the right buyers and influencers? What must marketing do to help achieve the revenue goals? Are new products or services being introduced soon? What tactics should be implemented to support their debut and any revised corporate objectives? Are the tactics tied to measurable goals?
Budget – Is the marketing spend aligned with the company’s objectives? Is it sufficient to achieve all that’s expected? Is it optimally allocated by quarter? If not, can the dollars be shifted around? Must some campaigns or investments be modified or pushed out to a later date?
As Robert Half, the founder and namesake of the staffing firm Robert Half International, once said, “Asking the right questions takes as much skill as giving the right answers.” So ask the questions listed above, arrive at the answers, modify your marketing plan accordingly and begin 2013 with renewed marketing focus, intent and drive.