It is the season for taking a closer look at the annual marketing plan. The annual marketing plan is an essential component to meeting next year’s strategic business goals. The plan is a formalized statement detailing the actions needed to meet specific marketing goals and objectives.
Typically, the marketing plan covers the following subjects: (1) new service offerings, (2) continued expansion of existing service offerings, (3) outlines required activities to meet next year's marketing goals and objectives, (4) reviews prior annual marketing plan, (5) ensures the objectives and strategic approach is in alignment with the firm’s business goals.
In the spirit of the season, I thought it would be nice to lend a helping hand to my subscribers by offering a pathway to developing the marketing plan and reconciling this plan to meet next year’s budget.
Like most formalized business statements, the marketing plan has a standard format. Marketing plans tend to include the firm’s vision and mission statements, market analysis, situational analysis, marketing goals and objectives and strategy. Since "Fresh Ideas" is a blog for digital marketing methods, this flexible format allows for both digital and traditional marketing methods.
Describe the current state of the firm.
Begin the plan by briefly discussing the firm’s current condition. This discussion should cover the following elements:
- A description of the firm’s professional services;
- A description of how the firm markets their professional services offering;
- A description of the firm’s current markets and associated client profiles;
- Provide marketing and business development data.
Analyze the firm's target markets and associated clients.
Follow with a more granular dialog about the firm’s target market. For reference, please check out Market Segmentation: An Inbound Marketer’s “Social” Bread and Butter.” Within each of the target market segments, provide the following:
- Describe the communication channels used to reach clients and prospective clients. Please note an increased number of channels result in a higher probability of awareness and response to your firm’s message.
- Compare and contrast the channels used to reach audiences to other market sectors. Describe preferences and sensitivities.
- Describe and provide any information on the projected growth and firm’s ability to be profitable in each market segment.
Taking the time to really analyze your markets is incredibly beneficial. I encourage you break out each market into segments, i.e. market segmentation. These segments and be broken down geographically, by client type and/or client behavior.
Once you provide a thorough market analysis, explain your firm’s strategic position and describe the marketing and communications strategy. Discuss the annual projections and associated budget to meet the firms goals and objectives. Then briefly describe how the marketing team will measure progress.
Reconciling the marketing plan with the budget.
In addition to the marketing plan, a budget needs to be included to support implementation. If you are preparing a marketing budget for the first time, estimate the budget to be between five and ten percent of gross revenue over the past year. If your firm is planning to market a new service or go into a new market, plan on a budget increase on top of the five to ten percent.
Get feedback from the marketing team; then refine, enhance and finalize.
Let’s assume you are finished with the first draft of the marketing plan. Go over the plan with the marketing team. If you have a plan from the prior year, discuss how the team performed, specifically looking at prior goals, objectives and strategies. Discuss whether the team’s past performance should be factored into the next year’s plan. If the prior year’s performance is factored into the plan, make sure to make necessary adjustments to the budget.
Going through the annual planning of your marketing activities is an essential practice for improving positive client and prospective responses, improving the response of inbound marketing activities, generating new pursuits, and improving the bottom line. Once you start the process, you will have a starting place to track your team's performance. Good luck!