Six Steps to a More Effective Marketing Plan

brown Blog, The Marketing Minute

We’re more than halfway through the year already, which means it’s about time for ownership groups to start asking for business and marketing plans.

However, too many organizations create “plans” that are more like strategy documents—they outline a direction for the next 12 months, but they don’t include the tactics necessary to achieve the desired objectives.

A successful marketing plan needs both the strategy and the steps. It has to be an actionable road map to help your company move in the right direction.

Daunting? Perhaps. In the end, though, it’s a worthwhile effort that offers many benefits going forward. First, a detailed plan allows you to communicate a single strategy to all of your partners, agencies, owners and employees. And just as important, it makes it possible to hold others accountable for their roles in the company’s success.

So how can you take your plan to that next step? Here are six tips: 

  1. Start early
    Give yourself 90 days to develop your plan—and remember, you’ll need to start executing the plan 90 days prior to the new fiscal year. For example, if you’re on a calendar-year schedule, you should be launching your Q1 2019 initiatives by October 1, which means you should start developing your marketing plan in July. (Yes, that means now.)
  2. Analyze
    Review your current expenses. How did you spend your budget over the last year, and what was the return? Knowing what was successful and what wasn’t will inform your strategy for the next year. And make sure to stay current on the latest marketing trends, because now might be the time to try something new and innovative—maybe even something a bit risky.
  3. Create clear objectives
    If your plan doesn’t have goals, you can’t evaluate the results properly. You should understand the sales goals for each segment; for example, in hospitality, you’ll want to analyze group, transient corporate, transient leisure, wedding, F&B, spa and other revenue goals and projected growth year over year.
  4. Get a handle on the money side of things 
    Meet with your CFO so you have an idea of what your marketing budget is going to be for the year. And don’t forget the non-negotiables, the items that will impact your budget whether you like it or not!
  5. Define actions and a critical path for each 
    When you’ve got the objectives for each segment outlined, think about how marketing can impact those goals. What tactics are appropriate? What will they cost? And what is the suggested ROI for each? List specifics by month, defining the promotion and how you’re going to market it. Include content specifics as well—your plan can serve as a content calendar, so you know what’s coming and what’s needed. Finally, develop a detailed document with an outline of start dates, steps required for each task and deadlines for everything.
  6. Track your results, and don’t just highlight successes
    It’s great to celebrate the things that are working, but the things that don’t work can be just as important. And be sure to ask why a tactic was successful (or not)—you might need to make small adjustments, or switch gears entirely.