It's the body of work you carry with you for at least 12 months. It defines everything you do on the job. And, if you do it right, it's your golden ticket to successful marketing.

Of course, I'm referring to your marketing plan and accompanying budget.

If you're on the July-June fiscal year cycle, you're most likely gearing up for your next pièce de résistance, so here are some tips to keep in mind; and if you're on another cycle, keep these tips for your next annual planning.

It goes without saying: A marketing plan and budget must follow the company's strategic plan. Hopefully, the company's strategies are determined within a timeline that allows you to think through and fully strategize your marketing efforts.

I always divide my planning into three essential "buckets" when setting a course for the year: market growth, market retention, and brand. Since I'm also responsible for communications, I build a communications plan as well.

Dividing efforts into those categories seems to work for our team, and it hasn't varied much, even with transforming company strategies.

Brand is typically the bucket eliciting the most discussion, especially when determining key metrics for success. As a marketer, it's important that you ensure everyone is aligned on the importance of brand and that you establish agreed-upon metrics to measure brand strength. Another important component of your annual planning is ensuring you have the right resources and tools for a strong marketing function.

Here's a round-up of foundational elements for your marketing effort that, if you don't already have, should be budgeted for in the coming year.

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image of Susan Solomon

Susan Solomon is a healthcare marketing vice-president in Southern California and a marketing instructor at four universities. She was a Fulbright scholar and she has written extensively on marketing, branding, and social media for more than a decade.

LinkedIn: Susan Solomon