Planning Ahead – How to create and budget for an annual marketing plan

The key to a successful year of growth in business is having an annual marketing plan with a budget attached to it. An annual marketing plan keeps your business on track with the marketing objectives you have for the year. It’s also a structured way to outline your goals and to maximize your results in a measurable way. A strong marketing plan is also flexible enough to adapt to changing industry conditions – like our wonderful surprise of a pandemic this year. — That was sarcasm of course, BTW. If you already have an annual marketing plan – that’s great! If you don’t have one yet, don’t fret. Many businesses don’t have this in place — YET, but now is the perfect time to put one in place and we’re happy to help you do it. Why? It gives you a deeper understanding of your business, it helps you prepare for anything — to an extent, and it saves you time and money in the long run. It also gives you a track record to reflect on at the end of each year so you can adjust and innovate as needed to increase your growth even more for the following year.

How to set up an annual marketing plan

Before we even begin setting up an annual marketing plan, you need to know where your business currently stands. What are its strengths and weaknesses? What are the biggest opportunities for your business? It’s biggest threats and competition? You also need to know where you stand within your industry. Where does your business rank compared to other businesses? What can you offer that separates you from the pack? What can you offer to improve your business? Lastly, you’ll also what to know where your business stands financially. What were your sales last year? Your profit margins? What was your cashflow was like? These are all questions you need to answer before setting up your plan.

Step 1: Know your goals

Once you’ve gathered enough research about your own business, now it’s time to start thinking about your goals and objectives and where you want to improve your business. Perhaps you want to increase your online conversion rate. Maybe you want to draw in more in-store traffic with targeted ads. Or maybe you would like to increase your social media following to provide better customer service or support. Whatever your goals may be, make sure they are realistic and give yourself a time frame to complete those goals in. For example, perhaps you would like to increase your social media following by 10% in the next 3 months. Just remember, you have to be realistic. It’s one thing to push yourself, and another thing to set yourself up for failure.

Step 2: Know your tactics

Now, you understand where you are and where you want to be, now you need to know how to get there. It’s time to start thinking about what marketing and advertising tactics you will use to reach your goals. Each of your goals should have a few different tactics in place to achieve that goal. As an example, if you want to increase your following on social media. A few ways to do that is to increase the number of times you post each week, as well as trying different types of posts such as giveaways or contests, and responding to more (or if possible) all comments and messages from your audience. However, keep in mind that these tactics will take time and money to operate and/or function to bring you the results you want. Which brings us to our last step.

Step 3: Know your budget

Without a budget in place, many of your goals may become unattainable. Not because they aren’t possible but, because we all only have so many hours in the day and so much money in the bank. That is why when you come up with different tactics, you should also estimate a budget for each one or at least a time amount spent on each tactic on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. That way you can get a better understanding of what you will be spending overall, whether you’re investing time yourself, you’ll be paying for time on someone’s salary or what you’ll be investing in advertising dollars. Don’t forget to also keep track of actual expenses against each tactic once you begin so you can get an idea of the overall return on each investment and whether you will be over or under budget at the end of the year in comparison to what you originally laid out in your marketing plan.

Want to learn more about what you should include in your annual marketing plan? Want to make a marketing plan but you’re still not sure where to start? Well, your friends at 3SIXTY Marketing Solutions are always ready to jump in and lend a hand. We can walk you through your marketing plan one step at a time, we can show you where the holes are or where you might have over or under planned too. We can show you an outside perspective of where your business stands, new opportunities your business could take advantage of, and how to boost your business with new strategies or perhaps how to increase the return from your existing ones (without blowing your budget!). What are you waiting for? Give us a call at (705) 252-4180 and let’s get started.

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