Marketing is an integral aspect of any business. An investment in overall business growth, marketing is key for driving the business forward. However, to achieve marketing excellence, businesses need a strategy. An annual marketing plan can help businesses determine where they are and then identify the steps they need to take to get where they want to be.
The ever-changing marketing landscape can become overwhelming when you’re growing a business. Although marketing can be complex, your Safeguard Advisor can help your business develop an integrated marketing approach. Putting together a cohesive annual marketing plan can help businesses break down their bigger goals into attainable steps.
How to create an annual marketing plan?
Businesses can create an annual marketing plan starting by forming well-defined, specific marketing goals. Your annual marketing plan should be tied to your overall business goals. Then you’ll be prepared to build your marketing calendar, taking into consideration your marketing budget and allocating resources based on importance.
Assess Where You are Now With an Annual Marketing Plan
Before you can get started with your annual marketing plan, you need to determine your current situation. One well-known technique, in particular, is a SWOT analysis. SWOT is an acronym for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, and the SWOT analysis helps you assess those four aspects of your business. You can use the information you gain from the SWOT analysis to develop a solid strategy for prioritizing the work you need to do to grow your business.
Additionally, you will want to look back at the most recent year. Determine what marketing initiatives worked and where you want to improve. You may also want to understand the current market and see how you compare to your competitors. A competitive analysis can help you gain insight into major competitors’ products, sales, and marketing tactics. This can help you identify what you can offer to give you a competitive advantage and help set your business apart.
Identify Your Marketing Objective and Goals
Your marketing goals should always be tied to your overall business goals. An annual marketing plan can help keep your marketing goals aligned with the business strategy and show the impact that marketing is making in achieving those goals. For example, if your business’s goal is to increase revenue, then your marketing goal might be to increase website visitors by a specific amount or generate a certain number of leads each month to contribute to that success.
Other marketing goals may include:
- growing your audience
- expanding into new sales channels
- increasing brand awareness
- improving conversion and retention rates
Whatever your business objectives are, it’s important to have well-defined, specific marketing goals to measure your efforts’ success. Part of having SMART goals, specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound, is that they have clear parameters and timelines, making it easier to track their progress. When setting marketing goals, it may also be beneficial to identify what resources you will need to achieve your goals, such as equipment or staffing.
Build Your Marketing Calendar With an Annual Marketing Plan
Businesses struggle with their marketing plan because they try to tackle too much at once. Start by outlining the marketing channels you are already using and consider using the owned, earned, and paid media framework:
- Owned – Channels your business has complete control over. These may include your website, email, or social media channels.
- Paid – Any channel where you have spent money for increased visibility. This can include print, social media, and display ads.
- Earned – Exposure gained through word-of-mouth advertising. This may include press mentions, reviews, or content on other websites.
The next step in building your marketing calendar is thinking about your budget. You’ll likely need to spread your budget across various marketing channels depending on your specific goals and the tactics identified to reach those goals. You’ll want to allocate your budget across those tactics based on both importance and anticipated costs.
Considering the various marketing channels and your budget, you’ll be ready to build your marketing calendar. As you build your calendar, you’ll want to consider timelines and priorities for your business. Be realistic about how long various projects will take. Some initiatives will likely be evergreen throughout the year, while others may be tied to a specific campaign. A marketing calendar puts marketing projects, campaigns, and other tasks in one place for everyone to see.
Now is the Time to Promote Your Business
As business leaders continue to navigate through an inflationary environment, along with expectations of a potential small economic downturn in the year ahead, there’s no doubt these circumstances influence decision-making regarding spending and other end-of-year planning decisions. When many businesses’ budgets are shrinking, companies almost always reduce spending on marketing first. Yet, organizations that are in the best position to survive and thrive after a recession are the same companies that are strategic in reallocating their marketing budgets.
Instead of helping your business recover, substantially lowering your marketing budget reduces your ability to drive the business forward. It’s important for business leaders to look ahead at the future of their businesses and invest in promoting them.
Your annual marketing plan outlines your strategy and helps guide decisions, ensures consistency, and keeps your employees focused. Safeguard is a partner you can count on to meet your marketing goals. Your Safeguard Advisor is ready to help with marketing ideas and solutions that drive long-term business success.
- An annual marketing plan can help businesses determine where they are and then identify the steps they need to take to get where they want to be.
- An annual marketing plan can help keep your marketing goals aligned with the business strategy and show the impact marketing is making in achieving those goals.
- Your annual marketing plan helps guide decisions, ensures consistency, and keeps your employees focused.
- Your Safeguard Advisor is ready to help with marketing ideas and solutions that drive long-term business success.