2020 Annual Planning: 11 Key Elements Every Marketing Plan Should Have

It’s that time of year: Time to prepare the annual Marketing Plan, that is. For weeks, you’ve been nudging your department heads for key materials that can help you build your plan, and now (hopefully) all of the data is falling into place. But simply plugging the data into last year’s plan isn’t always the best course of action. It’s time to take a fresh look at your marketing plan for 2020, and here are the 11 things it should contain:

  1. An executive summary. Executive summaries are usually the last piece of data written for an annual marketing plan; however, it is placed first. It acts as a general introduction to your overall plan and the goals within and is intended to be an overview for the C-suite that summarizes how you will achieve them.
  2. A situation analysis. What does the industry look like for the coming year, especially the specific market segment in which your company intends to compete? Are there clouds on the horizon, and what’s causing them? Is the market poised for growth? What changes do you expect? In some cases, a full SWOT might be warranted.
  3. Audience definitions. Who specifically are your target customers in terms of both company type and title? Your sales team should have provided this information in the data gathering process. Buyer’s personas should start high level, drilling down into specific verticals as needed. The more detail you provide here, the more of a roadmap you are building for the team to follow throughout the year.
  4. Lines of business. Which lines of business, new prod­ucts and existing products will be central to your company’s business goals in the coming year? If there are multiple, they should be prioritized—usually by revenue projections. Ask yourself: “If I had $100, how would I divide it up over the various products and services I offer?”
  5. Your value proposition and key differentiators. What do you do that is unique in the market? Why should and why do people buy from your company and not the competition? What value do you bring to your customers? Messaging and positioning is a key part of your strategic planning process and should play a starring role in your annual plan as well.
  6. Sales strategy and goals. The sales team should have provided you with an update on its go-to-market sales strategy for the year. If there are significant changes from the previous year, these need to be spelled out in your annual marketing plan. By syncing with the sales team, you can drill down into the specific markets you need to support in terms of influencers.
  7. Strategy for sharing your message. What are all of the mediums and methods you will use throughout the year to execute your plan? These may include content marketing, advertising, trade shows, public relations, account-based marketing (ABM), search engine optimization (SEO), webinars, videos and other efforts. How are you capturing leads for the sales team, i.e., what is your content management system? The more detail you can provide in this section, the better.
  8. Plan to execute on your campaigns. Here’s where the rubber meet the road: How will you execute on your campaigns? Starting with a high-level plan allows you to plug in details as they emerge. This step includes identify­ing and defining the marketing campaigns you will run, and as part of those, a campaign and content map that defines a campaign, its specific timeframe and goals, target audience, positioning and messaging that supports the campaign, the necessary content to support your programs and how you’re going to push all that out to your audience.
  9. The budget. Now that you’ve laid out your programs for the year, how much will they cost? As a general rule of thumb, companies should expect to spend 10% to 20% of their total revenue (not profit) on marketing. Some companies may spend more, others less. How do you make cuts if the budget you receive is lower than expected? What will you prioritize?
  10. Measuring results. How will you measure your results through the year? How many sales leads came from which activity? How many customers came from each activity? (Who’s buying versus who’s just nosing around?) Not only will measuring results from every activity tell you what you are doing right (so you can do more of it), it will also tell you what’s not working. It also gives you a solid idea of what you should be budgeting for the following year.
  11. The summary. This section is much shorter than the executive summary found at the beginning of your plan – it’s usually just one slide to hit the high points of your plan again.

Other areas to consider as part of your annual plan include elements that are specific to your business: partnerships, referral programs, user con­ferences and other activities that impact your plan throughout the year. These would be delivered before the summary.

Despite the formalness of an annual plan, unexpected events happen to every company, and flexibility is key. Rather than looking at your annual plan as “set in stone” document, consider it a sherpa that will guide your activities and strategies throughout the year, with enough room to make changes as needed.

For more information on how to create an annual marketing plan, download Calysto’s white paper: Create an Annual Marketing Plan that Means Business or contact Marissa Evans.

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