April 29, 2024

Devising Your Marketing Plan For The Year Ahead

In any business sector, it’s crucial to develop an annual marketing plan that outlines your company’s specific goals and strategies. Being proactive in your marketing planning ensures that your ideas and campaigns gain the momentum needed for success. 

Stay ahead of the game by strategising early, setting the stage for effective implementation and achieving your desired outcomes. So, how do you plan your marketing for the year ahead? 

To create a detailed marketing plan, you’ll need to:

You may also want to get your calendar ready, create a social media marketing strategy and ensure your website and SEO are up to date. 

Keep reading to learn more about planning your marketing for the year ahead. 

What Is a Marketing Plan? 

Essentially, a marketing plan is a strategic ‘blueprint’ for businesses to effectively organise, execute and monitor their marketing efforts over a specified period of time. It encompasses various marketing strategies tailored to different teams within the company, all aimed at achieving overarching business objectives. 

The purpose of a marketing plan is to write down strategies in an organised manner. This will help keep you on track and measure the success of your campaigns. Building a marketing plan will allow you to spotlight each campaign’s mission, buyer personas, budget, tactics and deliverables. With all this information in one place, you’ll have an easier time staying on track with a campaign. This will also allow you to highlight what works well and what doesn’t, which is crucial for campaign success. 

Understanding Marketing Plans 

It’s easy to get confused by the terms, ‘marketing plan’ and ‘marketing strategy’ because they are often used interchangeably. This is because a marketing plan is usually developed based on an overarching strategic framework. 

In some cases, the strategy and the plan may be incorporated into one document, especially for smaller companies that only run one or two campaigns in a year. Generally, a marketing plan will highlight marketing activities on a monthly, quarterly or annual basis whereas a marketing strategy focuses on the overall value proposition. 

Why Is a Marketing Plan So Important? 

A marketing plan serves as the vital bridge between the strategic vision of the business and the tangible delivery of results. It acts as the ‘glue’ that connects everything together, ensuring that the right activity is taking place, at the right time, to the right audience through the right channels. 

If you’ve ever found yourself engaging in numerous tasks without a clear sense of their effectiveness, it’s a telltale sign that you’re lacking a clear marketing plan. Similarly, when your initiatives seem isolated and potentially conflicting with broader business goals, the lack of a defined strategy becomes evident. 

When your business strategy, marketing strategy and marketing plan are seamlessly aligned, this is when the true magic happens. You’ll notice that every daily endeavour will seamlessly contribute to the overarching goals of the business, resulting in greater returns on investment. 

Having a clear marketing plan can also help you: 

How To Devise a Marketing Plan

In this section, our experts outline the steps needed to create a thorough marketing plan: 

1. Situation Analysis

The first step to take when creating a marketing plan is to conduct a SWOT analysis. For those who do not know, SWOT stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. A SWOT analysis can help you determine where your business fits within the market and your unique selling point. Use it to find out what your business is doing well and how you can improve. 

Additionally, gaining a clear understanding of the current market landscape is also crucial. This is where competitor analysis can provide valuable insight. By scrutinising your competitor’s strategies, you can pinpoint areas where they are falling short and thereby identify potential opportunities. You may want to ask yourself these questions: 

Answering questions like this should help you figure out the needs and preferences of your target audience, which brings us to the following step. 


2. Define Your Target Audience 

If your company already has existing buyer personas, this step may involve refining them further. However, if you don’t have buyer personas yet, it is crucial that you create them. In order to do this, you might have to conduct market research. Your buyer personas should include demographic information such as: 

Take the time to think about what drives your audience. What problems do they have that your product or service can fix? Once you have identified this information, it will help you define your goals. 

3. Write SMART Goals

Once you’ve established a solid understanding of your business and its positioning, you can delve into defining your objectives. Consider your primary business aspirations, whether they involve scaling your operations, expanding into new markets, or boosting sales. Set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound (SMART) goals to increase your chances of success in achieving them.

For example, a goal could be to boost Instagram followers by 15% within three months. Depending on your overarching marketing objectives, this goal should be relevant and feasible. Additionally, this goal is specific, measurable and time-bound. Before implementing any tactics, it’s crucial that you articulate your goals. This will allow you to evaluate which tactics align with achieving those goals. 

4. Set Your Budget 

Before you can even think of implementing any of the ideas that you’ve come up with in the steps above, you have to know your budget. Knowing how much you have to spend on marketing and how to spend it is critical to the success of your business. As a result, a marketing budget will ensure that you accurately calculate your marketing campaign or advertising. 

When you develop your marketing budget, make sure that you’re only spending money on the activities that contribute to your current marketing goals. Advertising and promotional efforts often come with substantial costs. Consequently, it’s crucial that you opt for strategies that offer optimal value while effectively reaching your target audience. 

Other Factors To Consider

On top of the points mentioned above, here are some extra factors to consider when creating your marketing plan: 

Get Your Calendar Ready

One thing that often gets overlooked in a marketing plan is event planning. This includes more than just selecting dates on the calendar for potential celebrations. Initiating early planning for your business or work events is crucial to ensure timely preparation for your marketing campaigns. 

It’s important that you keep up to date with what is going on over the year as it will help you when you’re planning your content. Whether that means keeping track of employee/colleague birthdays or national events and holidays that relate to your industry, this data can help you stay on top of your social media marketing and planning too. 

Social Media Marketing Strategy 

A great approach to social media marketing, especially if you are a smaller or more local business, is to align yourself with other local businesses. This could be through collaborations, sponsorships or just simply working together on projects. A great way to reach your local audience is to tag local businesses in your social media or by creating ads/campaigns specific to your area. 

However, it’s important to recognise that social media marketing may not be suitable for every business. Before implementing a strategy, it’s crucial to assess whether it aligns with your business goals and whether the potential benefits justify the investment of time and resources.

Consider Website Changes 

One factor frequently neglected in many businesses’ marketing strategies is their web design. If online advertising is on your radar, ensuring your website effectively converts new visitors is essential. Outdated content, broken links and poor user experience may cause visitors to bounce to a competitor’s site. 

Update Your SEO 

Making sure that your website can be found by your audience and ensuring that your SEO and web design is fit for and accessible to that audience is a necessity. It’s crucial that your site secures high rankings in the search engine for search terms relevant to the business. 

For example, a small family business supplying wicker baskets will want to target keywords such as ‘willow basketware’ and ‘wicker baskets with handles’. It’s key that you’re ranking higher than your competitors as it means that people using these terms are more likely to click through to your site. 

With the help of a digital marketing agency, you can ensure that your SEO is up to scratch so that your website ranks on search engines. On top of boosting your position in Google Search Results, SEO can also help boost your authority and credibility online, increasing your trustworthiness for your target audience and search engine crawlers. This can improve your brand reputation and encourage visitors to trust and engage with your brand. 

Marketing Plan Timeline 

Launching a new marketing plan is a significant endeavour. To make sure things are running smoothly with all of your projects, you’ll want to create a timeline that maps out when each project is happening. 

A clear marketing plan timeline serves as a centralised hub for your team, presenting all projects, campaigns, events and associated tasks alongside their respective deadlines. It ensures clear communication and awareness of upcoming activities. While some opt for yearly plans, others prefer bi-annual or quarterly ones. 

Once you’ve completed your analysis, research and goal-setting, the next step is to establish deadlines for your assignments. Whether it’s new blog posts, content initiatives or product launches, every task requires a defined timeline. Whilst setting deadlines for the entire year may seem daunting, start by estimating how long you think each task will take and set a deadline accordingly. 

Keep track of the actual time it takes to complete similar projects. As you accumulate experience with these tasks, you’ll gain insights into their actual timeframes, enabling you to establish more precise deadlines. 

 

For each project, make sure you build time in for:

*Top tip – Make sure that all of your projects and their deadlines can be found in a central location where your team can access them at any time. Whether it’s a calendar, shared document or project management tool, this will ensure that all members of your team have access to everything they need.

Take a look at this clear marketing plan template created by HubSpot for more inspiration. 

The Bottom Line 

To conclude, a meticulously crafted marketing plan serves as the backbone of a business’s marketing strategy, guiding its efforts to effectively sell products or services. By outlining the target market, optimal outreach methods, pricing strategies and performance metrics, a marketing plan lays the foundation for success. 

However, it’s crucial to recognise that a marketing plan is not a static document but rather a dynamic blueprint that requires constant monitoring and adjustment. This ongoing process allows businesses to identify the best ways to generate sales while rectifying less effective strategies. The absence of a robust marketing plan can jeopardise a business’s longevity, highlighting the pivotal role it plays in sustaining operations and fostering growth in an ever-evolving marketplace. 

The small yet powerful team of digital marketing professionals at Wildcat Digital adopt a “whatever it takes” philosophy when it comes to delivering digital marketing services to their clients. Offering a range of services from SEO, PPC, content writing, paid media and web design, the team employs a strategic approach driven by your unique needs, goals and budget to deliver value and help you become a digital leader in your industry. 

Get in touch to find out more. 

Marketing Plan FAQs

What Are The Different Types of Marketing Plans?

There are a variety of different marketing plans that suit different businesses, including:

What Are The Benefits of Creating a Marketing Plan?

 A clear marketing plan can:

How Far In Advance Should I Start Planning My Marketing For The Upcoming Year? 

It’s recommended to start planning your marketing activities for the upcoming year several months in advance, ideally towards the end of the current year or at the beginning of the new year. 

How Can I Ensure My Marketing Plan Remains Flexible and Adaptable Throughout The Year?

To maintain flexibility, regularly review and assess your marketing plan’s performance against set objectives. Be prepared to adjust strategies and tactics based on market trends, consumer behaviour, and other relevant factors.

What Tools or Resources Can Help Me With Planning My Marketing For the Year Ahead?

There are various tools and resources available, including marketing planning templates, project management software, analytics platforms, industry reports, and consultation with marketing professionals or agencies. Some examples of tools you could use include: 

What are Some Common Pitfalls To Avoid When Planning Marketing For the Year Ahead?

Common pitfalls include lack of clear objectives, inadequate market research, overestimating or underestimating resources, failure to adapt to changing circumstances, and neglecting to track and measure results.

How Can I Ensure Alignment Between My Marketing Plan and Other Departments Within My Organisation?

Foster open communication and collaboration between marketing and other departments, such as sales, product development, and customer service. Ensure that marketing strategies support overall business objectives and are integrated with other functions.

Post by

Rachel Davies

Will Hitchmough

Founder

Our founder, Will Hitchmough, worked at a number of high profile Sheffield Digital Agencies before founding Wildcat Digital in 2018. He brings an extensive knowledge of all things related to SEO, PPC and Paid Social, as well as an expert knowledge of digital strategy.

Digital Marketing can be a minefield for many businesses, with many agencies ready to take your money without knowing how to deliver results. I founded Wildcat Digital to deliver digital success to businesses with smaller budgets in a transparent way.

Chloe Robinson

Content Strategist Team Lead

With a degree in Marketing and a background in more traditional, offline marketing, Chloe joined Wildcat in 2021 after deciding to move into the digital marketing industry. She joined us as a Content Specialist and quickly moved up the ranks, becoming a Content Strategist and later an SEO Team Leader.

Outside of work, Chloe is an avid creative. If she’s not knitting, you’ll likely find her behind a sewing machine or in the kitchen trying (and often failing!) to make sourdough.

Paul Pennington

SEO Account Director

Paul has a strong background in SEO, having previously founded and ran a successful eCommerce business, as well as running a personal blog that achieves an average of 17K users per month. Paul’s knowledge of SEO is extensive, with a strong emphasis on client handling and technical SEO.

Outside of work, Paul enjoys spending time with his family and staying active with weight lifting and combat sports.

Nadea van der Merwe

Head of Operations

Nadea joined Wildcat in 2021 and has since overhauled the way we work. She has a background in various administrative, operations and HR roles, which gave her the experience and skills needed to lead and organise a growing business. 

Outside of work, Nadea loves anything that keeps her active, but she especially enjoys hiking, camping and mountain biking.

Molly Sturgeon

SEO Account Manager

With a background in sales, Molly is a natural Account Manager, brilliantly handling any issues that come her way. Having joined us as a Digital Marketing Executive, and working part-time through her final year of University, Molly is a shining example of how hard work pays off. She is now an SEO Account Manager with a particular interest in Content and Client Management. 

In her spare time, Molly loves to get out in nature, hiking and exploring the Peak District. She also loves cooking and likes to unwind with a bit of yoga.

Libby Oldale

Senior PPC Account Manager

Libby joined Wildcat in 2021 as our first PPC hire. With a degree in Digital Media Production, a Master’s in Digital Media Management and previous experience in Social Media Management, Libby hit the ground running and has since climbed the ranks to Senior PPC Account Manager and has a particular interest in the eCommerce sector.

Outside of work, Libby likes gaming, and cooking and likes to keep active by lifting weights.

Jasmine Savery

SEO Team Leader

Jasmine joined Wildcat in 2022 with a strong background in SEO and Account Management. At the time, she was finishing up a Level 4 Apprenticeship in Digital Marketing from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and has since worked her way up to SEO Team Leader. Jasmine excels at content writing and promotion, and particularly enjoys finding creative ways to join the dots on multi-channel campaigns.

In her spare time, Jasmine volunteers at a charity, helping combat loneliness & social isolation experienced by older neighbours. Outside of Wildcat, she owns a catering company, Savery Grazing, creating delicious grazing tables & platters for a range of events. She also loves skiing and exploring the Peak District.

Braden Godley

Senior PPC Executive

Prior to joining Wildcat, Braden founded and ran his own Social Media Management agency where he gained valuable skills in growing brands’ online presence, which has since proven invaluable in his role at Wildcat. 

Outside of work, Braden is a big football fan, regularly travelling to Pride Park to support Derby County. He also enjoys watching and playing snooker, hiking in the Peak District, and attending air and car shows.

Jon Herdman

SEO Executive

After spending ten years managing businesses, restaurants, cafes and event spaces across Sheffield, Jon decided to change careers and joined Wildcat as an SEO Executive in 2022. He especially enjoys the client management side of the job, helping them to understand digital marketing and ways in which they can build their business’s presence online. 

Outside of work, Jon likes to keep fit with running, badminton and football, and also loves music. 

Rachel Davies

SEO Executive

Rachel joined us as a graduate, having recently graduated from Sheffield University with a degree in English Literature. Since joining, Rachel has proven herself to be a Content Queen, and particularly enjoys getting stuck into projects that allow her to explore her creative side. 

Outside of work, Rachel enjoys a wide range of hobbies, including rugby, singing, reading, and spending time with her family and three labradors.

Carl Atterbury

PPC Team Leader

Carl joined Wildcat in 2023 with a wealth of experience in PPC. He has experience working with a wide range of clients, industries and budgets, from small local businesses all the way to international e-commerce businesses. Carl has a particular interest in strategic planning and forecasting. He is passionate about data analysis and creating sustainable long-term cross-channel strategies.

In his spare time, Carl enjoys keeping fit by lifting weights, bouldering and running. He’s also a keen musician, having played the double bass and bass guitar for 20 years.

Dariusz Baczyk

Team Lead & Technical SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Computer Science and SEO experience dating back to 2017, Dariusz has a wide range of SEO skills and knowledge. His specialist knowledge of Technical SEO has firmly landed him the title of Wildcat’s Technical Wizard, and he has recently taken on the responsibility of Team Leader for the Panthers Team.

In his spare time, Dariusz loves hiking, experimenting and trying new coffees and loves learning new things. He is currently learning more about CRO and AI and how this could benefit our clients.

Jamie Stowe

SEO Account Manager

With a degree in Film and TV production, and a varied career history, Jamie made the move to marketing with a Masters degree in Digital Media Management. He has since worked in SEO at Agencies across Sheffield, before joining Wildcat and working his way up to SEO Account Manager. Jamie has a particular interest in backlinks and Digital PR and has recently gained a client a valuable backlink from Forbes!

In his spare time, Jamie is an avid foodie and loves trying new restaurants and cuisines. He also loves to travel and spent a year travelling to Australia after university.

Andy Blanchard

SEO Executive

Andy joined Wildcat in 2023 after starting his digital marketing career in-house for a local Sheffield company. Since joining, he has developed a strong interest in Technical SEO and has strong skills in Account Management. 

Outside of work, Andy loves music and plays in a couple of bands. He also enjoys rock climbing, cycling, photography and good food.

Siena Russell

Client Success Coordinator

Siena joined us in 2023 with a background in sales and digital marketing. She leads on client relationships across the company, ensuring that our customers are happy throughout their journey with us, from their initial consultation through to onboarding and beyond. 

Outside of work, Siena enjoys travelling and getting stuck into the local culture. She likes to make the most of her experiences and particularly enjoys watching sunrises and sunsets from beautiful locations around the world.

Thea Chapman

Senior SEO Executive

Thea has a wealth of experience in SEO, having previously worked for other Digital Marketing Agencies in Sheffield. She has a particular interest and skills in Technical SEO, but is more than willing to get stuck in and give anything a go. 

Outside of work, Thea spends most of her time with her children, but also loves reading, photography and gardening. 

Tom Brookes

PPC Executive

Before joining Wildcat, Tom worked across different industries, building skills in sales and customer service. He later developed a passion for digital marketing whilst working on personal marketing projects and freelance ventures, and gained numerous certifications in PPC and Social Media. 

Outside of work, Tom enjoys staying active by going to the gym and hiking. He also loves travelling and motorbiking.

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