By Kim Gauthier, Red Shoes Marketing Group, Owner

We’ve all heard the saying that “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and it’s absolutely true. But have you heard of Marketing Pattern Baldness? It’s a side effect of the “you plan to fail” scenario. It’s a result of no plan, no timeline, no strategy, and no allocated budget.

The cure is the liberal application of a comprehensive marketing plan.

Before jumping directly into the plan, however, it’s important to differentiate a few concepts: objective, strategy, and plan. The marketing objective is the “what” you want to accomplish: brand awareness, acquisition, retention, etc. A marketing strategy is the “where,” it’s the road map for achieving your objective. A marketing plan is the “how” to execute the strategy to reach the objective.

For the purpose of this article, let’s assume you have a clear objective and strategy and you want to organize the “how” into a comprehensive plan. Here are five steps to make it easier to get a handle on your marketing plan.

  1. Format

There are a million marketing plan templates available online, or you can create one from scratch. Take a look at a few templates and choose the one you think will work for you. If you’re new to the marketing plan, I would suggest starting with a template and modify it as needed.

  1. Calendar

The marketing plan should cover at least a one year period, maybe more depending on your industry. Regardless of the industry, it’s likely there are annual, regional or seasonal opportunities that complement your product or service.

  • Mark down the dates for annual, regional, seasonal and special events, trade shows, conferences, sponsorships, etc. Use actual dates. If a date hasn’t been released yet, estimate based on previous years.
  • Add promotional observance dates. Get your hands on a promotional calendar and peruse it to see if there are any observances that fit your business. For example, there’s National Chimney Safety Week or National Head Lice Prevention Month, or National Flashlight Day (all real promotional days, the first week of October, the month of September and December 21, respectively). Wikipedia is a great source for these dates. Have some fun with the information; it’s a great way to stand out on an otherwise “typical” day.
  • Meet with other departments in your company to see if there are initiatives they want marketing to support. This is a great preventative measure against last minute requests. (It isn’t a guarantee against last minute requests, however!)
  1. Timeline

Begin at the deliverable date for each project and work backward to determine when you need to start working to deliver on time. Build in some cushion time to compensate for unforeseen happenings that inevitably arise.

  1. Allocations

Budget isn’t the only allocation needed for a solid marketing plan. Assign a project manager and make staff assignments to complete each aspect of the plan. Determine what work will be handled internally and what may be assigned to an outside agency and if staff from another department needs to be involved.

  1. Presentation

When your plan is complete, it’s key to do a presentation to senior executives, department heads, and managers. Wrinkles can be ironed out, and everyone has the opportunity to voice any concerns or make suggestions. But don’t get too excited, the plan will be fluid as the year progresses and that’s to be expected. Use project changes as a way to refine the marketing plan and modify it for the coming year.

Develop your marketing plan now. Don’t wait until you’re a victim of Marketing Pattern Baldness. It’s a preventable condition.

By Kim Gauthier, Owner Red Shoes Marketing Group

Copyright 2016 Used by permission.