With the new year right around the corner, our office is busy with strategic planning for our clients and our own business. We’re sure yours is too. In the flurry of meetings, reviews and holiday parties, don’t put your annual plan off till the last minute. Use our digital marketing plan template to prep for success.
We’ve also created a condensed PDF version of this marketing strategic planning template. You can download it, print it and keep it handy.
First, outline your high-level goals for the next year as a business – not as a marketing team. Dig deep to define what matters, using these questions as a guide to kick off strategic planning and your marketing plan.
- Vision – What direction is your business headed, and what does the ideal future look like?
- Mission – What’s your business’s mission statement?
- Values – What matters to your business, and how is that reflected in the way you behave?
- Team – Identify roles within your core organization. This will make it easier to divvy up tasks from this marketing plan template.
- Products and services – Should you expand or pare down your current offerings?
Assess Last Year’s Performance
This set of questions from our strategic planning template might be difficult to answer, but they’re some of the most valuable for creating a well-rounded annual plan.
- Goals – Did you meet your biggest goals? Were they too broad or too specific? Were they realistic? Were there too few or too many?
- Accomplishments – What did you accomplish last year? Any proud moments you can expand upon or draw from to accomplish more this year? It’s important to celebrate past accomplishments during strategic planning.
- SWOT analysis – Analyze your business’s overall strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Identifying these four things will help you refine your goals.
Reevaluate Audience & Market
Next, look at the market overall and your specific audience to further the strategic planning process.
- Personas – Creating personas is invaluable to an effective marketing plan. Identifying your target audience and their characteristics will help you understand how to best reach them.
- Existing customer demographics – These details may be a part of your official personas. Do you know what your customer base looks like now? Were you reaching them effectively over the last year?
- Customers to expand to – Who else might you market to? Is there a potential audience you have been ignoring or weren’t sure you could reach? Your annual plan is the place to develop goals to reach those people!
- Competitive analysis – Looking at how your competitors market themselves, their services, how they use social media or other marketing to their advantage is part of crafting a marketing plan.
- Market share – Whether you operate nationally, regionally or in a small town, how much of the market share does your business have? Are you happy with where you stand, and what disruptions do you predict?
- Industry outlook – Nationwide, how does your industry look in the next 1 to 5 years? This will inform many other items on this strategic planning checklist, like service offerings and budget.
Create New Goals (SMART)
Creating goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-based (SMART) is the core of your annual plan. These goals vary from business to business, but the rest of this marketing plan template will help you identify those goals and make them SMART.
Take the time to see how your current marketing efforts are working. Which channels provide the most value, and which can you put less effort into? How would you like to change the way you’re using each channel?
- Social – Is your business active on the right social media platforms? Should you be dedicating more paid ads to this space? Do you need to scale back?
- Video – Video marketing is increasingly popular. Identify how your brand can effectively leverage this medium.
- SEO – Is it time for a technical site audit? Perhaps a refresh of meta descriptions, schema markup and title tags?
- Content (Blog and Evergreen) – Is your content based on search trends? Identify topics your target audience is looking for, and address those topics in your annual plan. This is key to solid content marketing.
- PR – Are you tooting your own horn when you should be? How do you handle a brand reputation crisis?
- Email – Channel performance varies from business to business, but in general, younger generations prefer getting emails from brands. Identify how you can better leverage email marketing.
- Podcasts – Is a podcast the right space to broadcast your business’s voice?
- Paid – How are you handling paid media management? Are you wasting too much money by not adding negative keywords to your Google Ads campaigns? Should you focus more on targeting and retargeting?
- Referrals – Word-of-mouth marketing is an oldie but a goodie. And in the digital realm, you’ll also want plenty of backlinks to get website referrals from sources with domain authority. How can referrals make a bigger appearance in your marketing strategy?
- Local Listings – Check out your business profiles and reviews on listing sites like Google My Business, Yelp and Facebook. Is all the information up-to-date, and are you actively engaging with your customers?
- Print and Traditional – This is mail, local radio, local news, billboards and so on. It’s important to marry traditional forms of marketing with digital marketing for a well-rounded marketing plan.
Key performance indicators (KPIs) are metrics that measure how well you’re meeting your goals. Establishing KPIs is integral to your annual marketing plan. They should correspond with micro-goals throughout the year that will help you accomplish your overarching goals.
- By department – Who will be responsible for analyzing KPIs and making sure goals are accomplished? Will that analysis be presented internally in a report? Many reports?
- By channel – If you have goals specific to a channel, such as social media or organic search, you’ll need specific KPIs for each. For example, will you be looking at sessions or pageviews? Time on page or session page depth?
- Financial – How much money would you realistically like to make as an organization? How many new customers would you need? Do you want a hefty percentage of your profit to come from a recession-proof service or product? See more about financial planning below.
- Customers and leads – Do you aim to make your customer base happier in the next year? How will you measure that? Do you need to establish KPIs for customer retention and lead generation?
- Brand impressions – In your annual plan, it’s important to address all parts of the sales funnel. This includes the very top of it: awareness. Focusing on hard sales metrics is great, but enabling and measuring progress at every stage of engagement will help you accomplish more.
You’ve set your goals and analyzed last year’s efforts. Now drill down to make your strategic marketing plan take shape.
- From defined channels – You’ve defined where your efforts should be applied. Now outline how you’ll get there.
- From defined audience – Check out those personas you created and your target demographics. Plan how you’ll reach those people best.
- Create campaigns – You’ll build campaign ideas as the year progresses, but start a list of ideas and inspiration. This is fundamental for strategic planning that makes your marketing feel cohesive and appealing.
- Assess timelines – Based on how your previous marketing efforts performed, loosely define how you will build timelines. For example, have you historically run your search ad campaigns for too long without refreshing the content?
Assess Technology & Team
Take a look at the technology available to you and the tools are your disposal. Do you have what you need to accomplish the goals and strategy you’ve set forth?
- Software – Which tools do you use on a daily basis? Do they meet your needs?
- Hardware – Consider surveying team members to find out what their individual needs are. Do you need hardware to facilitate workforce mobility?
- Reporting – What tool do you currently use? Do you need to invest in a specific social-media reporting tool or something that has more capacity?
- People – Do you need more people to accomplish goals this year?
- Trends – Is it worthwhile to invest in a new technology to keep up with changing trends? If you need to invest in email marketing but don’t have a platform to do so, it’s time to look into it.
This can be the toughest part to bring into your annual plan for marketing. It’s all well and good to say you want to do seven videos and one cross-channel campaign per month, but is it in your budget? The second half of this section might not apply to all marketers, who don’t need to think about insurance and taxes.
- Last year’s budget – What was your marketing budget like last year compared to this year? Was it enough? Too much?
- Hiring – Do you need to hire more people to accomplish your goals?
- Freelance – Perhaps a freelancer can get you through busy sprints throughout the year.
- Paid media – What is your paid media budget looking like for the year? Will your budget limit which types of ads you can run?
- Technology – From the “Technology and Teams” section above, do you need to purchase video equipment or something else to achieve your marketing goals?
- Diversification – Identify ways to diversify your income, if needed. You don’t want one source of revenue to pull out and leave you stranded.
- Investments – Are you investing?
- Taxes – Taxes are tough but you can’t get a complete picture of your budget without addressing the costs here.
- Insurance – Depending on your business, this will vary for everyone.
Look over the annual plan to make sure you’ve checked all the boxes (literally and figuratively). Make sure your goals are SMART, your KPIs are specific and all your notes tie in to your business’s vision and mission statement. Then identify whose approval you need for budget, staffing changes, service changes and the overall marketing plan.
We’re Here to Make Your Annual Plan Work
This strategic planning checklist isn’t meant to be completed in the same way by every business. It’s a template you can adjust and follow in any order that makes sense. Some items might not be relevant to your business goals or your planning role at your company.
However you decide to use it, we hope you can walk into your next annual planning meeting with confidence and some copies of our strategic marketing plan template. The more information you brainstorm now, the better you’ll be set up for the year ahead.
If you get stuck trying to figure out the finer points of your marketing plan or need support for accomplishing it, just reach out to Oneupweb. We’re full-service and ready to help.