How solid is your marketing planning process? Often many people within your organisation have great plans, however, a plan is nothing without planning. And that’s why the marketing planning process is key to any successful organisation. As most colleges teach marketing focused on enterprise organisations, I want to share what a marketing planning process is and how to define it for a SMB, start-up or scale-up.

What is a marketing planning process?

Within the marketing planning process you define your marketing campaigns and set responsibilities as a marketing team. It is a systematic approach to achieve the goals of your organisation. Each organisation has their own process in which they plan their marketing actions to reach the goals.

Before starting with your marketing planning you should have these in place:

  1. Organisation goals (long and short term)
  2. Marketing strategy (linked to organisation goals)
  3. An epic marketing team (discover who should be included)
  4. Planning tools (great article on project management tools)

Make sure that your goals are clear. It is useless to work hard if there is no finish line. If you don’t have clear goals people might work too hard or on the wrong subjects. Imagine training to run for a marathon by going for a 40km run each day, you will not make it.

Who are involved in the marketing planning process?

No matter how intelligent you are, you should include your entire marketing team, colleagues from other departments, customers, executives, partners and external advisors in your marketing planning process.

Within your marketing team everyone should feel responsible for their programs and their main skill.

7 Steps within the marketing planning process

To start your marketing planning process from scratch I would recommend to go through these steps:

  1. Perform a solid market research (one time + recurring)
    Use a combination of desk research, CRM-analyses, digital marketing analysis (SEO/Ads/Social), recordings of customer conversations, and speak with the customers yourself. This allows you to build a situation analysis and a baseline for where you are today. In this step you should include customers, partners, the executives and other departments.

  2. Set objectives on each component (yearly)
    Within Workspace 365 we use the Reach, Teach, Act framework. It is a framework that I developed throughout the years and can share one-on-one. In short, it allows us to focus on: Impressions, Visitors and Conversions.

    Within marketing you can measure a lot of things. But as a small organisation you should be agile. That is why I would recommend to have a maximum of 3 key KPIs for your marketing team and also 3 KPIs per person that contribute to the key KPIs.

    An example of a key objective is to increase the website visitors 10% month-over-month. This could be split to personal KPIs such as increase traffic from LinkedIn with 10% month-over-month.


  3. Formulate your marketing strategy (yearly)
    Within your marketing strategy you will formulate how you will reach your objectives. Will you focus on digital marketing? Will you include physical events? Will you include traditional media? Review this strategy with external advisors as they will be able to level-up your strategy.

  4. Develop action programs (quarterly)
    Marketing should touch all bases in your organisation. In this step you will define your action programs to fulfil your marketing strategy. For example, if your organisations works with a partner channel distribution, you should develop programs to activate partners and help them to reach their goals. The action program might be: Activate the top 100 Partners

    In this step you will also decide who is responsible for the action program within your team.

  5. Implementation of programs (monthly)
    So you decided your action programs, now it is time to implement them. What recourses are needed to fulfil your program? Who should help you? And when is the deadline?

    E.g. to activate the top 100 partners you decide to organize an event to highlight the benefits for partners. In order to get them to sign-up you organize a give-away. This gives a lot of planning: Who will present the event? What will they discuss? What will you give-away? Who orders these stuff? How will partners know about the give-away?

  6. Control and review (weekly)
    Each week you should have a marketing planning session to discuss the progress of programs within your team. This will enable your team members to ask for help. It will also allow them to pro-actively help other team members in improving their work. Ideally, each team member presents their own programs, it’s status and results.

  7. Evaluation (after each program)
    After each program you should evaluate the results. Things you want to include:
    – What was the result? The program lead should collect data for this part.
    – What could we do better? Use this to update your process files.
    – What did we like most? This enables people to give compliments to each other, this is important because you probably have an awesome team who should feel proud!

    The program lead can collect the information using forms or by setting up a short meeting.

How do you start with your marketing planning?

Where should you start? That’s a great question. Depending on how much time you have I would start at step 1: the research. However, I know how hectic marketing is at a smaller organisation. Ultimately, you want to link your goals to the organisation goals. But if the organisation goals are not clear, don’t hold back. Setup your own goals. Move quick and be agile. Need goals? Use your current progress and add 3, 5 or 7% on a monthly base.

The goal of this article was to help you in setting up your marketing planning process. Hopefully, I helped you get a step in the right direction. As you can imagine, each organisation is unique. To give a full advice I would also dive into your organisation and industry. So, if you have any questions, feel free to reach out via LinkedIn.

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