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The Annual Planning Framework you need to Execute your Marketing Strategy

A true marketing strategy is more than just implementing tactics. It’s about turning company goals into an action plan and then executing carefully planned tactics to accomplish them.

Not only does breaking down the process make the goals more manageable but we would stress that this will help create a stronger relationship with leadership and position yourself as a strategic asset to the company. This post breaks down how to take high-level, annual goals and turn them into a plan of action for each quarter using a Theme + Quarterly Strategy + Tactic framework.

Before we dive in, let’s break down the Theme/Quarterly Strategy/Tactic framework. The simplified version is this:

  • Align your theme for the year based on company goals

  • Identify priorities to focus on for each 12 week quarterly increment that will help reach those goals

  • Outline the tactics needed to accomplish these quarterly goals

  • Execute


Choose a Theme

The first step in this framework is choosing a theme based on the overall goal the company is focusing on for the year. The desired outcome here is to give your marketing team a high-level look at what to accomplish over the next four quarters.

A great way to do this is to brainstorm ideas as a group (or on your own if you’re a marketing team of one) and apply a word that best represents the company goal. For example, if you’re planning to focus on creating processes the theme could be “Systematize” or “Simplify”.  

Whether there is one big goal for the year or multiple to accomplish, make sure to list all the high-level goals and themes in an annual plan document to refer to. Having a visual representation will help keep your ‘eye on the prize’ and it can be easily shared with the leadership team who just want a high-level look at your plan of attack.

At Strategy House, we keep things simple using this format:

  • Topic | Goal: [descriptions]

  • I.E.: Hubspot Service Portal | Goal: Use Service Hub to set an NPS baseline

 

Create a Quarterly Plan

Once you’ve figured out the theme for the year, it’s time to identify priorities to focus on for the upcoming quarter. This is will create a starting point and begin to narrow down what needs to be done and when.

A good way to evaluate where to start is to use the Ability to Execute (ATE) formula. There are four key factors to consider using the ATE formula:

  • Time. Do you realistically have the time to achieve this goal?

  • Resources. What resources will be needed to accomplish the goal successfully? This includes tools, technology, access to the necessary internal teams, departments or information.

  • Budget. Do you have it in your budget to cover the necessary expenses?

  • Expertise. Do you have the expertise or access to expertise to make it happen? Do you need training or a course? Will you need to outsource? Hire internally?

The answers to ATE will help to prioritize and allow your team to see if there are things that need to happen before you can begin executing tactics. For example, if more training or resources are needed to accomplish a certain goal it may mean shifting goals for the quarter in order to get those things done first. Or perhaps realizing there are other areas of that need to be focused on that are more important.

 

Outline the Tactics

This is where process comes into play by creating a visual roadmap to follow and refer to. When outlining specific tactics to execute it’s important to focus on what the steps are you need to take to make these quarterly goals happen.

Once you’ve documented your ideas on what marketing tactics would be most effective, you should also measure them using the ATE formula. Let’s say your goal is to blog consistently. This means you should be asking yourself if you have time set aside to spend two hours researching the blog idea and creating an outline, another 2-4 hours to write the blog and an additional hour to review it the following week.

If not, rewind and determine what you will need to make that happen. This could be as simple as listing content opportunities and campaign ideas then ranking them from 1 to 5 (1 being the easiest and 5 being the most difficult). Another way to help prioritize is to think in terms of importance, time and resources.

Outlining what work needs to go into each project to make it happen can be overwhelming for some as there are so many new ‘shiny’ tactics and tools to try out. In the end, it will make successfully accomplishing your marketing goals much easier than guessing as you go along. Just keep in mind outlining the tactics is more for yourself not necessarily something to report back to the CEO.

 

No More Guessing

This framework provides a roadmap for the year, eliminates guessing and puts the marketing team on the same page as your CEO and leadership team. Starting with a big picture vision and working your way into the finer details (tactics) creates a more manageable, realistic and less overwhelming plan of attack—especially for smaller teams with limited resources that want to execute big goals.

 

Strategy House creates strategies that focus on company goals and away from reactive marketing that centers on tactics. If you're a part of a small marketing team (or team of one) looking for help aligning marketing tactics with the bigger picture vision for company growth, let’s talk.