As 2015 draws to a close, every forward-thinking business is already focusing on planning ahead for 2016 and ensuring that next year's marketing efforts are even more effective and profitable than this year's.
Of course, not everyone approaches this important planning period the same way. In many cases, companies lack a structured approach to marketing planning and it shows in the haphazard and inefficient processes they use and the less than optimal results they end up with.
Over the last 14 years, EMM Group has helped hundreds of clients map out this potentially complicated planning, developing valuable templates that streamline the process and improve the outcome, getting our clients started out in the new year on the right foot, leading to overall marketing success.
If you’ve already completed your 2016 marketing plan, we recommend taking some time to review the following ten questions that can help you do a thorough post-mortem on your process and determine if you’ve fallen into the same traps other companies have. Keep track of which answers you choose for all ten and you’ll be able to diagnose your score at the end.
- How would you describe your situational assessment?
- 1) Our Annual Marketing Plan does not have a formal assessment of the current situation.
- 2) Our situation assessment uses anecdotal information and leverages the market understanding of the team.
- 3) The situation assessment is based on data that we collect to assess past year's plan performance and analyze key market constituents - industry, customers, competitors and channels.
- 4) The situation assessment has taken the conclusions of the plan assessment and market analysis and systematically identified and prioritized the most important issues and opportunities that the new marketing plan should address.
- 5) We have rolled-up data-based key issues and opportunities at an account, market and regional level to systematically prioritize the most important ones at a national/global level and used that as the foundation of setting strategies for the coming year.
- How would you describe your marketing goal setting?
- 1) Our Annual Marketing Plan does not have formally assigned goals.
- 2) The marketing plan goals are the same as the overall financial goals for the business.
- 3) We have marketing effectiveness goals such as market share, number of new customers or re-purchase rates in addition to financial goals.
- 4) We have financial, marketing effectiveness and efficiency (e.g. cost per lead, working/non-working $ ratio, etc.) goals.
- 5) Our financial, effectiveness and efficiency goals are based on data and a causal model that shows how marketing investment impacts customer attitudes and behaviors and eventually the financial results.
- How would you describe your strategic development?
- 1) Our Annual Marketing Plan does not have any formally identified strategies. Rather, it is a plan for execution of marketing tactics.
- 2) We have 3-5 key strategies around which the marketing plan is built but they are not clearly prioritized.
- 3) We have clear prioritization of the 3-5 strategies around which the marketing plan is built.
- 4) The prioritized strategies around which the plan is built are systematically aligned to the key issues/opportunities of the situation assessment and are a clear reflection of how to achieve the financial, effectiveness and efficiency goals set for the plan.
- 5) Strategies in the marketing plan are aligned with key issues/opportunities and marketing plan goals. Moreover, the financial value and return of each potential strategy is assessed based on a common metric (e.g. NPV) and used for prioritizing strategies.
- How would you describe your tactical planning?
- 1) The Annual Marketing Plan contains a list of tactics that will be deployed over the year.
- 2) The marketing plan contains a prioritized list of tactics, each with objectives, estimated resources, timelines and roles and responsibilities identified.
- 3) Tactics are subjectively selected, prioritized and then integrated with each other to work together for achieving the strategies identified for the plan.
- 4) The tactics are selected and prioritized based on an assessment of how effective and efficient each tactic has been in the past and how well they align with the achievement of the strategies identified for the plan. The selected tactics are then assigned roles that they will play in the integrated tactical mix.
- 5) A completely integrated tactical mix is developed for each strategy in the plan based on a detailed quantitative assessment of each tactic's past performance and their ability to help achieve the strategy.
- How would you describe your marketing plan’s budget allocation?
- 1) One marketing budget based on an estimate of all the tactics.
- 2) Detailed budget with specific $ amounts allocated to tactic type.
- 3) Budgets are allocated to each tactical type in the tactical mix and prioritized based on importance of tactic.
- 4) Budget allocation done for each strategy and by tactic. Budget allocations are prioritized such that if a cut is required, an entire strategy with its associated tactical mix can be cut.
- 5) Mathematical models are used to do budget allocation and the allocation is optimized using the model.
- How would you describe your plan’s competitive anticipation?
- 1) No competitive anticipation considered.
- 2) Some estimation of important product launches, or other significant moves that a competitor is likely to do, is part of the situation assessment.
- 3) Overall evaluation is done of how a competitor may respond to the marketing strategies and tactics developed in the plan.
- 4) Detailed assessment done for how the competitor may respond to individual strategies and tactics.
- 5) War-gaming or other form of dynamic inter-play is used to gauge how reactions to each other's strategies and plans may play out in the market over multiple moves and counter-moves.
- How would you describe the scenario planning involved in your marketing plan?
- 1) No scenario planning.
- 2) Plan is developed and potential alternative scenarios identified.
- 3) Plan alternatives are developed for 1-2 alternative scenarios to the one considered the most likely.
- 4) Uncertainties are clearly identified, prioritized and used to identify multiple potential scenarios. Contingency plans are then made for each of the priority alternative scenarios.
- 5) Uncertainties are clearly identified, prioritized and used to identify multiple potential scenarios. Contingency plans are then made for each of the priority alternative scenario, indicative metrics identified for each scenario and a system put in place to monitor the market for these metrics.
- How would you describe the way your plan validates assumptions?
- 1) No assumptions identified.
- 2) 1-2 high-level assumptions identified.
- 3) All key assumptions are systematically identified and prioritized.
- 4) All key assumptions are systematically identified and prioritized. Key steps are identified to validate the key assumptions.
- 5) A learning plan is developed with detailed initiatives, resources and timelines to systematically validate the key assumptions.
- How does your marketing plan account for integration and alignment with Sales, Operations, R&D, and other functions?
- 1) No integration. The marketing plan is completely independent and never communicated outside the Marketing function.
- 2) The marketing plan is made available to anyone from other functions who asks for it.
- 3) Key interface points and requirements are identified with key functions like product development, sales, operations and others. The marketing plan is presented to other functions in light of these requirements and interface points.
- 4) There is a formal and systematic effort made to communicate and align the marketing plan with other functional plans
- 5) There is a formal and systematic effort made to communicate and align the marketing plan with other functional plans. There is a mechanism to synch the plans during execution on a monthly basis and ensure the marketing's demand management plans align with supply chain plans.
- How would you describe plan tracking in regards to your marketing plan?
- 1) No plan tracking is done.
- 2) There is one review of the plan's progress during the year.
- 3) Marketing plan's progress is tracked every quarter and adjusted accordingly.
- 4) Along with quarterly tracking of the plan there is also detailed tracking of the progress of the key strategies in the plan.
- 5) There is a regular and frequent tracking of the key goals and success metrics of the plan, which is used to tweak/change the plan on an ongoing basis.
Now, add up the total of all the response numbers you chose and place it in the comments below this post. You’ve probably guessed that the higher that number the better, and we’re interested to see how the range comes out.
If you haven’t completed your planning process yet, contact us today to discuss how we can help you hit the ground running in 2016!