Annual Marketing Planning
Does my shirt look okay? Anything look weird? Are my, are my jeans, crooked?
I’m Ashley Booth and I am a director on the consulting team. When I think about annual planning, whether your fiscal year is the calendar year or some other time, you’re going to be reading a lot of things that are telling you sort of what the next big thing in marketing is. And while it is important to keep up on trends not only just in the industry, but within your own market, with your customers, with buying behavior, with all of those things, there’s never going to be that magic silver bullet that will solve all of your problems.
So that’s the really thing to keep in mind is when you’re doing annual planning, the important thing is to take a step back. You have to carve out. We carve out a half day strategy sessions, and that is probably the appropriate amount of time when you’re doing annual planning. And the first step is to take a step back and think about the business So it doesn’t matter if you’re a marketing director or a CEO or a sales lead, you need to take a step back and say, “Where do I want in this business to be in three years?”
Maybe you don’t feel good about the brand or you don’t know which customers you should be talking to. Maybe you want to launch a new product or you want to go into a new industry. Where are those places that you want to be? Maybe it’s that you have a certain revenue goal. You want to have a lot of growth in one to three years. You want to double the size of the company or you don’t have enough leads coming into the organization.
Those are the things get out of the tactics, get out of the channels and think about the business. That’s what’s important because everything you do needs the ladder up to where you want to go. If you’re just thinking about where you want to take in your business in one year, you’re not going to get as far as you can if you think about the three year plan and then work your way back from that. Once you feel really clear about your goals, it should really be about three major goals.
Then it’s important to think about how you, how you get there. So it may be specific channels, it may be specific strategies, but that’s really how you need to approach annual planning. Everybody’s going to talk to you about how you should be doing video, which you should, and you need to get your tech stack and your attribution in order which you should. And sometimes those things can be hard, right? It is not sexy to invest in some of those, like back end making sure your analytics and tagging and attribution is all squared away or making sure that you’re on the right CRM or you rebuilt your website two years ago.
But it requires a developer to make any changes, and it doesn’t reflect everything. You may just have to suck it up and realize that you’re going to have a new website. All fine, all totally normal. But if you start with the business and if you start with a longer term plan, all of your annual planning will be much, much easier. Once you start getting into annual planning and after you’ve determined your business goals, then you think about things like channels, tactics, strategies and then you also start thinking about who should be doing that work.
So one of the things that we love to do with clients is we have transparent conversations about marketing budgets. So let’s say you have $500,000 a year for marketing next year. Well, is that just for like media spend and partner fees? Does that also include all of your technology? Does that also include your personnel and your payroll? So it’s like we need to figure out what actual working dollars you have for media spend or partner fees, and then you start thinking about like how you can make the most of what you’ve got.
You may have no marketing team inside your organization. That’s OK. We work with clients like that all the time. You may have 30 people inside your marketing organization. That’s OK. We work with clients like that all the time, too. And what we do is we start thinking about what is like E3 or your partner are uniquely qualified to do. What is your internal team uniquely qualified to do? Where do we need to find an outside partner or where is it more appropriate for a freelancer to be doing things?
And it’s really important to look at that picture. You may have never engaged with a marketing partner before, and we tend at Element Three to work with clients who are usually like a tipping point of growth where they’ve made an acquisition or they’ve been acquired, or they have really aggressive growth goals, or they’re going to launch a new product or go into a new industry or talk to a new customer where you’re like, you know, we need that outside perspective. We need that outside support. And that’s really important. And even if you’re not at a place where you’re at a tipping point of growth, maybe you’re just not quite there yet. Or maybe you’ve just gone through a bunch of change and you just need a year where, like, you just kind of keep things as they are, it’s still often really important to get an outside perspective.
So if you’re not ready for a partner, that’s OK. But if you’re the CEO of the company,
make sure you’re talking to people in different parts of the organization
to get their perspective. Talk to your peers, talk to people outside of the organization. It’s important to get additional perspective on the things that you should be focused
on, because sometimes when you’re like, you know, you’re in it, you need somebody to help you like, step out and look around at the landscape and be like, “Oh, OK, I see this more clearly.”