Have you started your 2017 marketing plan? Here’s how to kickstart yours.

As we race towards a strong close to 2016, it can be hard to even think about setting aside the time needed to build and vet your 2017 marketing plans. Your team may have just finished the herculean task of delivering on a major launch, or hosting your annual customer event. The last thing they are in the mood for is rolling up their sleeves to consider planning for 2017. However, if you have not already started or are not imminently preparing to start your planning process — you are already behind the eight ball.

A solid plan usually takes about 6–8 weeks to build and socialize depending on how much information is immediately available. So, if you are targeting having a vetted 2017 plan going into the holidays, it puts you eight weeks out this week.

Despite the pain — your team, and your cross functional colleagues, are going to be incredibly empowered having made the time to contribute to and participate in the planning process.

5 elements essential to your marketing plan

While there are any number of ways to get from point A to point B in developing a successful marketing plan. At its core, a successful plan:

  1. Reflects and supports the firm’s business goals and strategic initiatives.
  2. Provides an overview of the current landscape (audience, challenges, opportunities) and routes to market.
  3. Recommends a marketing strategy and execution plan, providing maximum impact while prioritizing projects that can be realistically executed, measured, and that align with budget parameters.
  4. Documents a 2017 marketing calendar, aligning with and capitalizing on major company and industry milestones. It should also highlight seasonality that is known to impact audience purchase behavior.
  5. Defines expected return and success metrics.

Additionally, your planning effort should include development of the 2017 marketing budget and a team overview. Your 2017 Marketing Budget output should:

  • Reflect a blended “tops down” and “bottoms up” budgeting approach.
  • Be well-researched, accurate and appropriate for your company, industry, size and ability to execute.
  • Document run rate/recurring marketing expenses and one-time investments such as event sponsorships or technology projects.

2017 Marketing Team Overview should describe the team’s:

  • Charter
  • Structure (highlighting any key hires, organizational alignment w. other teams, proposed restructure, etc.)
  • Measures of Success (such as employee satisfaction and development, customer/partner growth, operational efficiencies)

Some final thoughts as you enter your planning cycle

Teams that manage their planning process well will have given colleagues transparency into the thinking behind how budgets and resources are allocated.

Your team members will be able to set expectations, show how the organization is supporting the stated goals and priorities of the business, and even articulate why some activities that may have been funded in the past are no longer part of the budget.

By simply documenting and communicating your organization’s plan, your will provide a huge return in driving alignment, facilitating decision making, and staying focused on what’s most important.

Follow me on Twitter @anneloneill.