It’s that time of year again — planning time. But why is summer a good time to plan?
- You have results from a couple of quarters to help predict how the organization will end the year.
- You can evaluate current and upcoming market and economic trends.
- You can align your plan to the broad organizational and business goals.
Annual planning is important for organizing resources in an efficient and effective manner. To move your brand forward, your annual marketing plan should showcase previous results, demonstrate a clear path for the coming year, clearly articulate what the business will achieve and show how your marketing initiatives will support it.
Read 8 tips to help you navigate the annual planning process:
- What is going on in your category and the economy? You won’t be able to control some factors like economic trends, but you should be aware of them so you can adjust your plans accordingly.
- Keep an eye on your competitors. Are they in business-as-usual mode? Have they ramped up or pulled back on certain activities? What can you do to stand out?
- Stay true to yourself. While it’s important to keep a firm grasp on your competitors’ efforts, don’t obsess over them, especially if you’re the market leader. Spending too much time worrying about others can stunt your growth.
- Have clear goals and objectives. Gain organizational alignment on what you need to achieve and how your plan supports the overall business goals.
- Highlight major initiatives. This includes new distribution, new products and new services. Determine when these will be ready and when they will launch.
- Focus on the big stuff. It’s important to learn and evolve, but an annual marketing plan should be clear and focused. Instead of loading a lot of small activities and events into the year, plan a few meaningful ones. Their impact will go further if you stay targeted. Also, if you have a big, long-term goal, split it up into more achievable annual goals so you can see year-over-year progress.
- Consider your retail partners. If you don’t sell directly to consumers, learn more about your retailers’ plans. If they feel like your organization’s plans help them achieve their goals, too, they will be more willing to support your ideas.
- Spread the word. If you develop a strategic marketing plan but no one in the organization hears about it, it’s pointless. Create natural breaks in your planning process to invite people from different parts of the organization to participate. Not only will this make your plan stronger, but more people are likely to support it if they feel like they had a hand in creating it.
For those who haven’t done in-depth annual planning, you need a good foundation to build on.
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure your marketing plan is supported from the top. The CEO must want it, and the management team needs to support it.
- Prioritize organizational alignment. If this is the first time your organization is developing an annual strategic plan, ask a small, focused team to create the protocol and processes. Too many cooks in the kitchen can lead to disorder.
- Reapply principles. If your organization has planned for capital investment or product launches, reapply some of the processes from those planning activities. They can act as building blocks for your annual planning process.
Stay tuned for my next blog on the implications of poor annual planning.
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