Is an Annual Marketing Plan Necessary?

Is an Annual Marketing Plan Necessary?

An annual marketing plan won’t magically carry a weak business; however, it’s how a company holds ground in a tough market and reaches new heights in a growing market.

Business planning is a given

As a growth-oriented business owner, manager or CEO, you have some form of business plan outlining your operations, financial goals, pricing model rationale, target markets, market share potential, sales and products or services.

If you operate an established company, your business plan is based on invaluable historical data—a track record and extensive customer data. This plan enables you to project, track and reach key performance results thoughtfully and intentionally.

But what if your business doesn’t have historical data? As is the case with many funded startups, your track record may be too small to build a business plan using existing numbers. Without factual historical data, you use research, industry statistics and projections as key indicators to attract pre-seed and seed-funding investors interested in their product’s potential.

For any growth-oriented company, a business plan is an essential benchmarking tool for the executive team. It gives investors and new business partners a reason to believe in the business and its products.

For similar reasons, savvy leaders also implement an annual marketing plan to build on and complement their business plan.

What is a marketing plan?

An annual marketing plan is a roadmap that takes your brand from where you are to where you want to be in a year. It targets and outlines big-picture goals for the next 12 months. For fast-moving brands, an annual plan provides a stable foundation for more agile quarterly reviews and planning.

A marketing plan includes your target market’s motivators and pain points, the overall state of the market for your products or services, who your competitors are and where your brand stands within the market. In addition, a marketing plan describes your organization’s strengths, weaknesses and unique value proposition. Within that framework, an annual marketing plan delivers priorities, new initiatives, initiatives to be dropped, challenges and expectations.

An annual marketing plan builds on the business plan to reach target markets, adapt to change and grow sales through lead generation.

Marketing momentum can grow significantly when businesses take the time to assimilate any previous year’s results. For established businesses, it’s important to note that an analysis of your past year’s successes and failures is central to developing a successful plan. Whereas funded startups will look to market insights and research.

Clearly, a marketing plan has a big job. In fact, it’s the guiding light for the entire marketing program and team.

Do you really need an annual marketing plan?

Are you launching a new company? Trying to scale your business? Increase sales? Enter new markets or niches? These are all reasons to have a solid marketing plan in place. Growth requires planning and expert knowledge that a marketing partner can provide.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant in life is change.” In marketing, things change incredibly fast. An established marketing plan helps your business pivot quickly and effectively, especially when your groundwork is based on solid facts and current data. Market research and situational analysis are integral to your marketing plan’s ability to outline specific marketing goals and the strategies and tactics to achieve them.

Many businesses make the mistake of resting on their laurels. Never mind how you were perceived two years ago. What do people think of your brand right now? And how are you going to change that for the better? Your marketing plan’s detailed actions and resources let your marketing team determine the best steps in the simplest way. It’s all laid out for you before you get there, effectively saving time and resources.

Investing in an annual marketing plan is vital in an ever-changing market.

Activate your annual marketing plan with ongoing marketing

Rather than hiring a marketer for reactive, piecemeal marketing tasks, partner with an agency to lead your marketing program. This allows your marketing agency to be a proactive partner that is strategic in implementation and excels at idea generation and marketing budget management. It all starts with an annual marketing plan, resulting in brand awareness and lead generation that work in tandem with your brand to protect your business during market downturns and push growth and ROI when the market is up.

Is your marketing plan ready to get you where you want to go? Try these questions out.

  • What is the current state of the market overall for your products or services?
  • In what new ways are competitors encroaching on your turf?
  • How has your organization improved?
  • What are your brand’s current weaknesses?
  • Which products or services have you dropped or introduced?
  • Is your unique value proposition still valid?
  • What challenges are your salespeople currently facing?
  • What part of your marketing isn’t working?

If you can’t quickly answer those questions or if the answers reveal marketing gaps, it’s time to get an annual marketing plan. Mindspin can help.