Out with the old, in with the new

As the Christmas and New Year break marches ever nearer, for many of us in business it signals that period in the calendar when we aim to complete some things and start thinking about what we do next.
Up and down the country and all over the world, business people will be reflecting on what they have achieved in 2013 and what they want in 2014. This is likely to include sales, new products and services, capacity, HR and hopefully, marketing.
A marketing plan doesn’t need to be complex or time consuming – it’s just about identifying what needs to be done, when, by whom and how much it’s likely to cost. The purpose of the plan is to help us stick to doing the right things at the right time and at the right price, and the level of detail required can vary enormously depending on your business situation.
We meet many businesses who have lots of good marketing ideas, but never seem to implement many (or any) of them, or if they do, they are late and/or over budget. A plan won’t stop this happening, but used and reviewed regularly will make it easy to spot ‘drift’ early enough to correct it.
Measuring plan implementation (are we doing what we said, on time, on budget) should be a key part of any marketing reporting system as well as the results we are hoping the marketing plan will deliver. Here is a four step process for building your new marketing plan.
Getting started
To construct a new plan, I generally start by gathering the following information:
Last year’s plan, results & learning
Business goals for plan year
New ideas – marketing opportunities we have identified as possible new activities
Calendar of key business activities (e.g. new product launches)
Marketing budget for plan year
Building the plan
And as with all good plans, it’s generally a good idea to work backwards – where do we want to be at the end of the plan year?; what does marketing success look like? Knowing our destination allows us to put in place the key building block activities and then we can fit everything else around them.
Additional opportunities
I always recommend a contingency within the budget – it gives us breathing space if prices go up and can allow us to take advantage of new opportunities that occur during the plan year. I also like to have something new to test on a limited scale.
A final thought
Look out for the ‘invisible’ costs – manning at events, reprint of existing literature etc.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year that brings everything you plan.