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From the Trenches

5 Simple Tips for 2010 Marketing Planning

Mike Sweeney | November 18, 2009

Admit it.  You haven’t started working on your 2010 marketing plan.  Sure, you’ve thought about it and maybe you even built an outline.  You may have held a meeting or two to discuss.  And your calendar for 2010…well, it’s already full of trade shows, weekly meetings with your marketing team, scheduled promotional mailings, and perhaps even a few webinars.  Unfortunately, that’s not really a marketing plan.  And that’s certainly not the way to address interactive marketing.

If you already have your 2010 plan built and ready for action, I commend you.  Based on the organizations that approach us on a daily basis regarding planning, you early planners are in the minority.  The good news – industry wide – is that strategic marketing planning is back in vogue for 2010.

It seemed that the end of 2008 and at least the first half of 2009 were marked by marketing plans that might as well have read “Hold on for dear life and hope people start buying things again.”  2010, on the other hand, feels quite different.  The organizations we’re speaking to, while still cautious, recognize that they need to get back to the business of growth, and they realize that interactive marketing represents a potential driver for this growth.

Organizing, writing and communicating a marketing plan is not an easy task.  As a matter of fact, it’s not a task.  It’s a process.  Whether you’ve been through the process or not, I offer up five tips that ought to help you get started:

1) Ease into planning with a full evaluation of current/past marketing activity and results.

Sit down with the appropriate team of people and evaluate everything you’ve done for the past two years.   I wouldn’t go back more than two years, because your business (and the entire marketing category) has likely changed a good deal during that time period.

Look at both traditional and interactive assets, plans, programs and results.  Make it thorough: brochure, website, direct mail, email, search marketing, events, social media, special promotions, etc.  Leave no stone left unturned.

2) Hire the right people to help.

The execution and results of your 2010 marketing plan will only be as good as the planning and strategy stage.  If you falter on planning, you can count on failing in execution and results.

If you don’t have the right person or people, hire them.  There are plenty of options available: short-term employees, full-time employees, consultants and freelancers to name a few.   Don’t make this the place you skimp.

3) Stop wondering why what you’ve done in the past is not working.

We hear this one all the time.  The typical comment is “I don’t get it.  We used to drop an email to our customers and prospects and…voila…we’d see leads flowing in almost immediately.”

Get over it.  The economy has changed.  Your customers have changed.  Your prospects have changed.  The way people buy has changed.  Everything has changed.  It’s time to move on and stop lamenting why your old marketing methods aren’t working.  Instead, start fixing and planning.

4) Use the data you already have and by all means use everyone else’s data.

Today’s most effective marketing plans are driven – at least in part – by some form of data.  Data comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s out there and available.  Some forms of data – like your own web analytics – are easy to evaluate.  Other forms of data – like the chart below – may leave you questioning your assumptions about marketing methods.

There are two types of data you can access – your data and data from others.   If you can’t trust your own data…well, that’s an entirely different problem.  Regarding accessing outside sources of data, there are a number of possibilities: analyst reports, research from associations you belong to, conversations with colleagues, attending presentations/webinars on particular topics, reading articles in publications related to  marketing or your industry…there is no excuse for not being able to find data to back your decisions.

5) Document the planning process.

If you do this the right way, you’re going to enjoy it.  Others in your organization will enjoy it too.  That means you’ll get to go through the process again in 6-12 months, maybe even sooner.  Document everything you go through to generate your 2010 marketing plan.  Trust me – you’ll be very thankful you don’t have to reinvent the wheel the next time around.

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About Mike Sweeney:

As Right Source’s co-founder and CEO, Mike Sweeney creates, plans, and implements our vision, mission, culture, and strategic direction as well as serving as an advisor to our clients. Mike received a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a major in marketing from the University of Notre Dame and has more than 20 years of experience in B2B marketing strategy, including digital, content, and marketing technology. You can find Mike on LinkedIn.