Having a plan for anything is very important and there are a myriad of sayings to back this up, ranging from Ben Franklin’s “Failing to plan is planning to fail” to Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” As we approach September, the back-to-school mentality kicks in regardless of how long ago we were in school and it’s a great time to get organized and start planning for 2020 (hard to believe we’re on the brink of 2020—what happened to Y2K?) and put together one’s marketing plan for the year. As one develops the plan, there are a few items to do at the beginning of the process, which we will discuss in this blog.

Step 1: Review the current year

Think objectively and ask yourself these questions:

  • How has 2019 been going?
  • Are you on track with your 2019 goals?
  • Are sales up?
  • How do Google analytics and other key performance indicators (KPIs) look?
  • What worked and did not work this year with your current marketing plan?

It may take some research to find the answers. You may also want to conduct a SWOT analysis delineating strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats associated with the company, product, market, staff, etc. Once you have the answers to these questions you can start to think about goals for 2020.

Step 2: Establish goals for 2020

Think about what your company and marketing team want to accomplish in the new year in terms or products, processes, profitability, market position, sales, and costs Are these goals realistic and align with the SMART goals developed in 1981, which says that goals should be SMART or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based. Once you have the goals, you can think about how you will achieve these goals, including needed resources such as budget, time, staffing and messaging.

Step 3: Know Your Audience

Who are you trying to reach with your marketing plan? There may be several segments including customers, media, investors, and employees. Going through the exercise of determining personas or updating those you are already using may be helpful. Hubspot defines “persona” as “a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers, including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals.” It is also important to consider which channels are best to use to connect with them, and their present challenges and opportunities.

Step 4: What Should be Included in the Plan?

A good marketing plan should have overall goals and then a month-by-month plan for accomplishing goals.

What events will be happening throughout the year? This includes trade shows, conferences, company-specific events such as anniversaries, product launches.

You also need to include strategies and timing for other content, which will also have their own plans. These include:

  • Blogs
  • Press releases
  • Product Launches
  • Newsletters
  • Email campaigns
  • Social media
  • Advertising campaigns
  • Proactive media pitching
  • Webinars
  • Internal communications
  • Thought leadership

This blog has presented an overview of the what and how to compile a marketing plan, but the process should not be taken lightly. It is a complex process that needs to involve executives, product management, marketing and public relations experts. It is never too early to start planning and it is best to start soon in order to be well prepared for 2020.