The marketing profession has become more technical, complex, and dynamic and your planning process needs to keep up with the times. The contemporary marketing plan should consider all the following attributes to make sure you are delivering the right outcomes.
Goal-driven. Every marketing plan should be built on top of SMART marketing goals that are related to the overall business objectives of the organization.
Strategically aligned. Once you have agreed on what you want to achieve (your goals), you need to agree on how you plan to accomplish your objectives (your strategies). For example, you could achieve your objective of growing your pipeline through a content marketing strategy, an indirect channel strategy, a targeted account strategy, or some combination of these and other strategies. Your strategies will be more effective if they are aligned, and do not conflict. Read more on this topic here: What's the difference between a marketing plan, budget, and strategy?
Financially aligned. Now you know what you want to achieve and how - you need to assign your budget to best achieve your goals through your strategies. You obviously can’t overspend your available budget, but you don’t want to underspend either. Your goals, strategies, and budget should all be aligned.
Agile. Conditions change quickly, and you need to be able to adjust your plans accordingly. Always keeping your goals in mind, you need to be able to adjust your tactics and strategies based on unplanned challenges or opportunities. You also need to be able to reconsider your goals themselves. If they are no longer relevant, you should be prepared to remove, adjust, or add objectives at any time.
Measurable. Ongoing measurement of KPIs allows you to optimize the performance of your plan, make sure you are on track to achieve your objectives and know when you need to make adjustments (see “Agile” above). It also allows you to compare results from different campaigns, programs, and tactics.
Thematic. The most effective marketing plans are built based on broad thematic campaigns vs. disconnected tactics. Maintaining a thematic approach ensures that your marketing plan will add up to something meaningful, even if you make adjustments to the tactics along the way.
One of the biggest mistakes that marketers make is creating a blizzard of tactics instead of focused, purposeful campaigns.
Online. Given the dynamic nature of contemporary marketing plans, the plans themselves should be accessible in an interactive, online form vs. traditional static formats like a PowerPoint presentation or a document.
Visibile. Clear communication of objectives, progress toward key milestones, and changes that require adjustment is required to keep plans on track.
You are much less likely to achieve your objectives if your team isn’t clear on the targets and the progress toward achieving them.
Distributed accountability. In team environments, ownership of segments of the plan (including goals, campaigns, and expenses) should be distributed to team members with clear accountability for the results. This requires clear visibility and an online plan format to keep everyone on the same page.
Sophisticated. Marketing continues to get more complex with the growth of digital techniques and data-driven approaches. Marketing plans must have the ability to handle complexity and render the information in summary form to ensure clarity and understanding.
Data-driven. Marketers have unprecedented access to data and should use that data to drive optimization of tactics, measure performance against KPI targets, and build an understanding of their customers and markets. Their plans need to consider the role of data across these contexts.
Experimental. The best marketers are always running experiments to identify new approaches, challenge their existing plans, and continually optimize performance.
If you are not trying new things, you won’t learn and grow, and if you aren’t failing some of the time, you are not trying enough new things.
Benchmarked. Along with efforts to continually improve performance against internal benchmarks, leading marketers also seek external benchmarks to evaluate their performance against peers and leaders in their industry.
High-performance. A culture of performance is built based on the measurement of target achievements that are validated by external benchmarks whenever possible.
Efficient. Marketers should endeavor to continuously improve the performance and efficiency of their spending. Practices like benchmarking and data-driven marketing can contribute to efficiency.
Leveraging thematic approaches can also drive savings because of the re-use of creative assets combined with the improved effectiveness of broad campaigns.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments.