Fail to plan … ? Getting your marketing strategy in place for 17/18

Another financial year over.

How did your business do? Did you hit your targets? Exceed them, even?

If you could do it again, what would you do differently?

Year end is the perfect time to take stock of your performance over the last twelve months and plan for the future. Not only for the financial year ahead: for your hiring plans, product development and – of course – your marketing.

Your 2017/18 marketing strategy should be more than a shopping list of tools and deliverables. Any plan worth its salt will be tied to your wider business objectives and include realistic goals, plus timeframes and measurement tools for helping you achieve them.

Below, we’ve outlined our recommended framework for marketing planning. If it sounds simple, that’s because it is: businesses that overcomplicate their marketing efforts rarely outperform those who keep things solid and simple. We’ve developed the framework below to ensure focus and prevent the scattergun marketing activity that afflicts many businesses.

1. Goals


Ask yourself: what do you want your business to be when it grows up? For example: you may want your business to double in size over the next three years.

2. Objectives


Next, you need to define the role marketing will play toward achieving your business goals. Your objectives should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely measures to make progress towards your goals. An example: for your business to double in size, you need to generate 300% more leads than the previous year.

3. Strategy


This will take time. What steps should you take to achieve your objectives, without wasting resources on unnecessary activity? Using our example, to increase your leads you’ll need to improve your website and run several email campaigns.

4. Tactics


Here you’ll drill into detail, and calculate the who, what, where, when, why and how of your plan. Ask yourself: what are the timed, named, costed and measured activities I’ll need to pursue to fulfil my strategy? Assign a person to be responsible for delivering and measuring each deliverable. For example: to improve your website, you’ll need to audit your current site, hire and brief a developer, and test the new site.

Your plans might change, of course. But it’s crucial to build a benchmark to work from before you start working. After all: fail to plan; plan to fail.

There’s no better time than the present. Use the year-end to build a marketing strategy for the year ahead. Your future self – and your 2017/18 accounts – will thank you for it.