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Eight Key Elements Your Annual Marketing Plan Must Have to Succeed in 2017

by Lauren Davenport  |  
March 6, 2017
  |  6,905 views

The new year is already in full swing. You've got vendors to manage, campaigns to push through creative, and end-of-month reports to run. But as the first months of 2017 come to a close, you feel a sense of anxiety.

The annual plan you created last quarter already feels out of date. Facebook Live is gaining more traction, and you didn't include it in the plan. You've recently read marketing predictions that say your website will fade into Internet oblivion if it takes more than two seconds to load in 2017—and website speed wasn't even on your radar!

How on earth are you supposed to plan for an entire year of marketing when the technology and platforms are changing at the speed of light?

The answer is simple: You can't.

The Traditional Annual Marketing Planning Is Dead


The Internet and technology have radically changed your customers' expectations for interacting with your organization. And the pace of changes won't slow... New, innovative platforms and technology will continue to emerge.

What does that mean? It means traditional planning, starting in August and mapping out every detail of your annual plan, doesn't cut it anymore. Your marketing plan must be a living, breathing entity that can adapt and evolve.

To win, you need to get comfortable constantly nurturing and adapting your plan throughout the year.


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Lauren Davenport is CEO of The Symphony Agency, a marketing and technology consulting firm.

LinkedIn: Lauren Davenport

Twitter: @lfdavenport

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  • by Ford Kanzler Mon Mar 6, 2017 via web

    Valuable item. Especially agree on #'s 5 & 6. That's rarely, it ever included.
    Suggest a competitive analysis be in there somewhere. Perhaps it fits under #1, since defining the company needs to occur in context with and against competitors. Copying competitors gets you nowhere.
    In addition to "vision" or goals, defined marketing Objectives should be backed up with Strategies and supporting Tactics in the plan. Otherwise, there isn't any action being laid out for the team to follow. A tactical timeline for planned actions is also helpful. (WHAT BY WHEN?)
    Also suggest that some of the ideas offered in the article may not be particularly valid for startups or companies entering an entirely new business.
    Two suggested reads on strategic business planning:
    - "Good Strategy/Bad Strategy," Richard Rumelt
    - "Differentiate or Die" (2nd edition), Jack Trout

  • by millie Mon Mar 13, 2017 via mobile

    Your comments very enlightening. am inspired to do my marketing plan right away.

  • by chipo Sat Mar 25, 2017 via web

    I am very inspired

  • by Christine R. Valeriann Wed May 3, 2017 via web

    Thanks, Lauren, for your article and the reminder about some critical considerations. However, you proclaim that marketing planning is dead--then outline many of the exact same components covered in the typical marketing plan. [The two additional components I would include are measurement and evaluation and an action (tactical) plan.] I think the disconnect is that most people think of the marketing plan as a static document to dust off once a year or every five years (if ever). I've worked for a couple of firms that share this view and understand that this is a common perspective. But I've also written many marketing plans for other firms that were very successful, very useful, and dynamic.

    In addition to being a marketing practitioner, I teach marketing as an adjunct at both the graduate and undergraduate level and tell my students that the marketing plan is both a strategic and tactical document. While the strategy may be done on an annual or periodic basis, the tactics that support the strategy should be reviewed and revised in real time. Strategic planning is a big-picture, long-term activity and a marketing strategy should be applied consistently over time for success. The tactical piece, where implementation of the marketing mix is detailed, should be revised for optimization based on channel analytics. In your example, the tactical plan would be revised to include Facebook Live as a new/additional social media vehicle, but as long as your strategy included social media in the recommended marketing mix, the overall strategy would not change. If data supports the prediction in your example that Thanks, Lauren, for your article and the reminder about some critical considerations. However, you proclaim that marketing planning is dead--then outline many of the exact same components covered in the typical marketing plan. [The two additional components I would include are measurement and evaluation and an action (tactical) plan.] I think the disconnect is that most people think of the marketing plan as a static document to dust off once a year or every five years (if ever). I've worked for a couple of firms that share this view and understand that this is a common perspective. But I've also written many marketing plans for other firms that were very successful, very useful, and dynamic.

    In addition to being a marketing practitioner, I teach marketing as an adjunct at both the graduate and undergraduate level and tell my students that the marketing plan is both a strategic and tactical document. While the strategy may be done on an annual or periodic basis, the tactics that support the strategy should be reviewed and revised in real time. Strategic planning is a big-picture, long-term activity and a marketing strategy should be applied consistently over time for success. The tactical piece, where implementation of the marketing mix is detailed, should be revised for optimization based on channel analytics on an on-going basis.

    In your example, the tactical plan would be revised to include Facebook Live as a new/additional social media vehicle, but as long as your strategy included social media as a category in the recommended marketing mix, the overall strategy would not change. On the other hand, if the data supported the prediction that your website has faded into Internet oblivion, then the strategy could change: the company website could be removed from the marketing mix, a new technology channel could be added to the mix, the marketing mix could be significantly reallocated to shore up the fading website, etc.

    Does this make sense? Does anyone else have a different take on marketing planning? I love to talk marketing shop!

    Christine R. Valeriann
    http://bit.ly/LinkedIn_CRV
    http://bit.ly/MktgInfographics
    @crvaleriann

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