Is traditional annual marketing planning necessary?
It takes up a lot of time, resources, and energy, and in the end, it usually works for a handful of weeks or months before new inputs and factors require it to be revised.
For you and your team working on creating and repeatedly revising the plan, it can be grating, deflating, and frustrating. On top of that, things can get expensive quickly.
But why is traditional annual marketing planning like that, and is there a better way?
The Importance of a Plan
Annual plans exist because they add value.
They keep various internal stakeholders aligned across an organization and ensure that their activities support the business objectives. For bigger organizations, they help ensure that the stakeholders are working effectively together and not tripping each other up or duplicating efforts.
Free Download: Pathfinders Marketing Planning Guide
The Problem with the Traditional Annual Planning Approach
Traditional annual plans struggle because of two factors:
- Length of time they are trying to cover
- Depth of planning for each tactic
There are a lot of factors that can come up across a year that will require consideration and adjustment to the plan. Likewise, when each individual tactic has its own project plan defined, one change can cause a cascade of changes and considerations to be made across multiple points within a project plan, and across project plans that have interdependencies.
Building a Better Plan
What we need is a marketing plan that outlines specific strategies and tactics like a road map so that we have a focus, a destination, that all internal stakeholders can understand and align their activities around.
We build it to be flexible in execution so that if something does not go as expected across the year, we can adjust quickly and accordingly without derailing the plan.
The Road Map Approach to Annual Marketing Planning
Unlike traditional planning, the road map approach is designed from the start to be nimble and react across the year to current events and changes in budgets, priorities, competitors, competitor products, and the landscape.
It does this by defining the key activities across the year (like campaigns or drive periods), as well as corresponding milestones for devising project plans for the tactics to support those key activities.
For example, if you have quarterly campaigns, the road map may define that during the previous quarter you review and refine tactics to support the campaign, as well as define project plans for those tactics.
Less Investment, Better Outputs
In our experience working with brands on their annual marketing plans, we have seen a significant reduction in time and resources needed to develop the initial plan when we use the road map approach to annual marketing planning.
Traditional Annual marketing planning: 8-12 weeks of initial planning
Road Map Annual marketing planning: 4 weeks or less of initial planning
This timesaving is not at the expense of the quality of outputs; we’ve seen equal, or better, benefits.
Experience the Benefits of the Road Map Approach
If you’re tired of trudging through the traditional annual marketing planning process, we recommend using the road map approach for your next plan.
- Shorter turnaround up front
- Less time and resource investment needed
- Fewer feelings of deflation and frustration from your team
We’re here for you to answer any questions about the road map approach or to discuss how to apply the approach to your next annual plan.