Demand Generation Blog Articles

5 Steps to Building a Marketing Plan

It’s that time of year again when leadership and management teams are tasked with budgeting and planning for the year ahead. The reality is, the most difficult part of planning is getting started, and planning doesn’t have to be scary. The number one thing is to realize that most of your marketing plan is already put together, and you just have to get it all down on paper.

Follow these 5 simple steps to prepare your marketing plan.

1. Define your goals

If you want to know where to start, you have to know where you want to go. You need to know where the company is heading in order to make sure your plans will get you there. Rather than just sitting down and listing out all of the wonderful things you’d like to accomplish in the coming year, start by defining the vision and goals for the year ahead.

If you aren’t sure what your goals are, or what they should be, take some time to answer a few questions:

  • What are our overall business objectives?
  • What are our revenue goals?
  • Are there any upcoming adjustments to our products or services?
  • What are the key metrics for measuring our success?
  • Are there any sales or product goals we need to help meet?

If you still don’t know the answers to these questions, take the time to meet internally to ensure everyone is working towards the same objectives.

2. Take a page out of history’s playbook

No, we don’t mean your old history book. Take a look back at what you’ve accomplished over the past year and define what worked, what didn’t, and how you can build upon your existing success to create something new.


If you have the access, take a look at some of the below places for insight:

  • Marketing Automation Reports: What were the key drivers of activity? Dig into the data and use it to your advantage.
  • Salesforce, Market Automation, or CRM Reports: Were you able to support the sales funnel? Look at overall company-wide goals versus the performance.
  • Google Analytics: Are there certain months of high or low activity? Compare year over year data to determine common trends and seasonality.
  • Social Media Insights: What channels are you using? Take a look at overall performance and analyze results.

Once you have an understanding of past performance, you can identify where leads and conversions originated from and support these areas further.

3. Audit the fundamentals of marketing

As the new year approaches, set aside some time to look back at the fundamentals of your marketing program. As your company continues to grow and evolve, make sure you revisit, audit, and update your:

  • Messaging and personas: Are your target persona’s pain points evolving? Determine if there is a persona standing out from the rest or any that have fallen behind the pack.
  • Event and editorial calendars: Note the key conferences or events you attended every year as well as any editorial calendar dates to keep in mind for outreach and promotion.
  • Competitor analysis: What are competitors doing? How are they changing and what tactics are they using? Pro tip: use tools like Google Analytics, AdWords, and Moz to find these answers!
  • Customer journey audit: Align the tactics you’re using to every stage of the funnel, and determine if there are any obvious gaps. This audit will also help you to brainstorm new ideas!

4. Compile the pieces.

Oftentimes, marketers put a great deal of time and effort into developing their yearly plans, laying out and color-coding a masterpiece, and then shove it to the side where it gathers dust for the next 12 months.

To avoid this from happening, keep the delivery simple. Break it down by including your vision and how you want to get there, the major goals you defined in step one, your major quarterly or monthly initiatives you defined in steps two and three, and the measurements you will use to track success and outcomes.

Once you have all of your known data together, it starts to become clear where you need to launch a larger campaign, and to what audience. You can also begin to prioritize and balance lead and demand generation tactics throughout the year to ensure you are both generating new leads and moving existing leads through the funnel.

5. Share your plan, then share it again.

Don’t get stuck in a silo. Set yourself and your team up for success by sharing, discussing, and revising your plan with others. Get feedback, brainstorm new ideas, and make sure all goals are aligned.

While aspects of business can be unpredictable, ensuring you have a marketing plan can be a pathway to success and structure. From confirming your goals for the new year to looking at the past year and understanding what needs to change and what will continue to drive results, be prepared for 2018 with a solid plan.

Learn more about the many ways SmartAcre® can help develop a plan and drive marketing success in the new year.