As companies were struck by the COVID-19 pandemic, this quote surely resonated with marketers: “Plans are worthless, but planning is everything.” Dwight D. Eisenhower followed that thought with a compelling suggestion: “If you haven’t been planning you can’t start to work intelligently…”
For marketers, plans can certainly change, but the planning process creates value beyond the plan. When your market is in flux, a marketing plan is indispensable. Here’s why it matters more than ever:
- Marketing planning clarifies intent and empowers team members to work within a known decision-making framework. Teams can maintain greater alignment when they work toward (clearly outlined) common goals.
- Marketing plans also set the scaffolding for measurable goals. With a clear plan, you can identify KPIs and constantly benchmark ROI. More importantly, measurable goals and constant benchmarking can foster a culture of accountability.
- Executing a viable plan will get you closer to your objectives while keeping you in line with your strategy and budget. Consistency and sustained effort can compound performance, whereas sporadic marketing tactics can fail to create traction.
- A robust plan gives you a blueprint to follow (or to reference) when uncertainty arises. When goals and objectives are defined, it’s easier to determine which tactics would support (or detract) from the marketing and positioning strategy.
- Marketing planning helps you make fast, strategic decisions when new opportunities (e.g., a new conference, a rise in demand) or threats (e.g., a new competitor, a pandemic) arise.
The stronger your marketing strategy, the more flexible you can be — if your goals shift midyear, you’ll have the insight gained from planning to inform your next moves.
If you’re ready to start planning, I recommend reading Lea’s tips on creating an effective marketing plan. After that, you can download SCORR’s 2021 Annual Planning Worksheet to get a head start on market research for the next year’s plan.