Do You Need an Annual Marketing Plan? + How to Optimize Any Marketing Plan

Does your marketing department…

  • create an annual plan;
  • fly by the seat of your pants;
  • or create short-term plans?

Don’t worry. Wherever your marketing team is in that process now, we aim to help you improve your marketing plan. Let’s dive in.

Do You Need an Annual Marketing Plan?

No, you don’t need an annual marketing plan, but they can be effective.

Every marketing team works differently to serve their business (or clients) well. The length of your marketing plan doesn’t determine its effectiveness. Instead, the agility of that plan is what makes it effective.

We’ve all been there. We created a beautiful, intricate, or multi-layered plan only for business changes, clients’ needs, market disruptions, or a global pandemic to throw a wrench in it.

And sometimes, it’s almost worse when changes affect just one aspect of a campaign. But that one change creates a snowball effect, meaning dates, deadlines, and campaign details for the next month or year are, at the least, pushed off, or at worst, determined obsolete.

Back to the drawing board, right?

Our goal is to help you avoid that headache by adding agility into your marketing plan.

Agility means having the “ability to move quickly and easily.” It means being able to adapt to market fluctuations, customer requests, and business pivots.

Implementing agility can reduce wasted work when it comes time to create or modify a marketing plan.

Marketing Plan

How to Optimize Any Marketing Plan

Planning is good, but agility is key.

That means we need to plan differently.

In Andrea Fryrear’s book Mastering Marketing Agility, she says that the best way to implement agility into your marketing plan is to plan when you know the most.

The problem most marketing departments face is that they need to make a quarterly or annual marketing plan to present to business leaders – but these arbitrary schedules don’t always align with knowledge, data, and customer feedback.

In essence, most marketing teams make their marketing plan when they know the least.

Instead, to be agile means to only create a plan with the information you have available – and to only create a plan when you have information.

Information can include:

  • Client feedback
  • Metrics (campaign results)
  • Analytics
  • Business goals and initiatives

With this information, your marketing plan may look more like an outline than an in-depth plan, but that’s okay. There’s no need to guess or add extraneous detail to an evolving plan.

As you get more information, you can continue to fill the marketing plan in. This way, you are never redoing work, but instead, refining your plan over time while always knowing the general direction that you’re going.

What if My Plan Needs to Be Fixed?

If you have a marketing plan where items are being pushed around because of unforeseen changes, there’s still hope.

The first step in fixing it is to review your current marketing plan. Remove any items that are tentative or pending. Keep only the items that are backed by the data you have. Focus on those. This is your new marketing plan.

Think of this marketing plan as a malleable ball of clay. Over the course of the quarter or year, you will turn that ball of clay into something usable and beautiful.

You have an idea of its purpose, but you’re still refining the look. You want a cup of some sort, but will it have a handle? Will it be short or tall? What color will it be and what glaze will finish it? The details don’t matter as much as your overall direction (or marketing goals).

Your marketing plan should always be thought of as having been written in pencil – no need for ink or permanent marker when you can just erase and update things as you go.

Marketing Plan

How SharedTEAMS Helps Your Marketing Department be Agile

At SharedTEAMS, we aim to help your marketing department be more agile. We do this by how we structure our services.

One way we help introduce agility into your marketing planning is through our Strategic Guidance process. We typically create 1 to 3 project estimates (next steps) at a time while also giving you the current recommendations for moving forward. These recommendations can look into the next week, month, year, or beyond based on your unique situation and needs.

This way, we’re giving you an overall plan for moving forward while anticipating changes before other projects begin.

In many cases, our members find that the current approach for those 1 to 3 projects is accurate and in line with their goals throughout the course of those projects. But, sometimes our members’ needs change.

We can adjust any project’s approach by request at any time. This applies to one-time and recurring projects.

For example, if a member wants to adjust which audience segment they are primarily serving in their marketing efforts, they will likely change this in all of their projects – in-house and delegated. For a Website Production project, this means updating the content on multiple web pages and potentially updating the design on those pages, too. In a recurring advertising project, our team would pause the active campaigns and create new ones with new messaging targeting the new audience.

The updates are different, but the process is the same. We simply adjust the project approach to our members’ requests when they make them.

Marketing Plan

Do You Want Help Optimizing Your Marketing Plan?

It’s often been said that we can’t direct the wind, but we can adjust the sails. Our team is here to help marketing departments with whatever they need – advertising, communications, graphic design, website, social media – and, yes, strategy and planning.

If your marketing department is looking to optimize your marketing efforts and augment your team without hiring another employee, check out how our membership works.