Beyond the First 90 Days: A Marketing Plan for Your First Year
Picture this: you just got a new job, read our blog post on how to create a 30-60-90 day marketing plan, and your first three months of performance were so good you shocked your boss(es).
If you haven’t already guessed from the title, it’s now time for us to talk about 1-year plans.
What Is a 1-Year Plan?
To marketers young and old, a 1-year plan is the gold standard of all roadmaps. It’s essentially an annual plan that helps you get to where you and your team want to be by the end of the following year.
Like a 30-60-90 day plan, a 1-year plan is generally made up of a few key components, such as:
- Your goals, dreams, and aspirations (i.e., maybe the first thing more so than the rest)
- Valuable market insights (i.e., to help you create your plan)
- Proven—or otherwise optimistic—strategies (i.e., to actually get your plan off the ground)
- Key milestones and KPIs to watch out for (i.e., to make sure your original plan is working)
- Plan Bs, Cs, Ds…Xs, Ys, and Zs (i.e., in case you-know-what hits the fan)
When done right, a one-year plan won’t only help you accomplish your goals at the end of a 365-day cycle—it’ll also help you stay motivated, organized, and successful all year long.
How Do You Make a 1-Year Plan?
A quick Google search will tell you that there are MANY different ways to approach a 1-year plan, which is why we have to say this: there is no right way to make a 1-year plan. Odds are you’ll probably prefer a style and structure that might not work for the rest of us.
Our job here is to give you a basic rundown of what it takes. Your job is to take that and run with it.
Keep reading for our 5 steps to helping you make your own annual marketing plan.
1. Set Some Goals
A 1-year plan without a goal in mind is like chips without guac—one cannot truly exist without the other. Technically, it can…but it just won’t be as good. That said, what do you want to accomplish in a year?
While many professionals will likely determine their goals based on the unique needs of their work environments, you want to keep in mind the following questions:
- Is my goal Specific? (i.e., you know what you’re talking about)
- Is my goal Measurable? (i.e., you can figure out how to get there)
- Is my goal Attainable? (i.e., your goal is realistic)
- Is my goal Relevant? (i.e., see above)
- Is my goal Time-based? (i.e., your goal won’t take a million+ years)
We talked about SMART goals more in-depth in the last post, so feel free to learn more about them there. The bottom line: if your goal doesn’t hold up to these questions, you’ll need to head back to the drawing board.
2. Do Some Research
You might think once you have your goal you’re ready to start devising a plan. Not quite. You should actually get into some research before setting out on your grand yearlong adventure.
If your goal is the lifeblood of your 1-year plan, then consider your research its backbone. Having key insights to build off from is only going to make your prep and execution that much stronger.
Our suggestion? Deep dive into the following materials:
- Customer feedback (i.e., whether people like what you’ve put out there)
- Competitor reports (i.e., what other businesses are doing better)
- SMM and SEM data (i.e., what all the cool kids are saying)
- Situational analyses (i.e., does your business need a wellness check)
- General marketing trends (i.e. refer back to parentheses #3!)
3. Set Some Strategies
With a goal in mind and some research in tow, it’s time to start figuring out how you’re gonna pull this whole thing off in 365 days (or less).
Obviously, we can’t tell you exactly what to do because we don’t know what your individual plan will end up being. What we can tell you is that your strategies must recall everything that came before it (i.e., your goals and your research).
In other words, don’t bog yourself and your team down with processes that truly have no end game. Because these strategies will roll out over a long period of time, make sure you’re not doing things because you think it could maybe potentially help.
This is also a good opportunity to reflect on earlier 1-year plans if you have them. What went wrong? What went right? How would you do this plan differently knowing what you know now?
Whatever you decide on, just take your time with it.
4. Track Some Metrics
Once you have a solid idea of how your 1-year plan is going to work, it’s time to make sure it actually works. How? By setting some KPIs.
These are obviously going to vary depending on the objectives you’ve laid out in your roadmap. Your job is to make sure that they make sense for your projects and are indeed trackable.
Examples of these may include a mix of qualitative/quantitative indicators related to:
- Revenue and spend (i.e., if you’re making any $$$ from all this effort)
- Customer engagement (i.e., if people actually notice and care)
- Business input and output (i.e., if your plan is actually holding water)
4. Start the Conversation
Speculating on your own can only go so far. Once you’ve hit that point, try starting the conversation yourself! From sending out community surveys to networking at events or even chatting it up with staff and supporters, see what your potential audiences have to say — their answers might surprise you!
5. Prep Some Back-Ups
Here’s the deal: even after all this work you’ve put into your 1-year plan, it won’t ever be perfect.
Yes, maybe we should’ve led with that. But we’ve passed that point now. What we mean to say is that you could consult 1,000 psychics and you still wouldn’t be able to predict the trajectory of your year ahead. Stuff happens, and that’s okay.
That’s why you need a back-up plan. Or several. Maybe a lot. Whatever you decide to do, just do your best and try not to get frazzled. Honestly, one success of a 1-year plan is being able to make it to the end of the year without everything completely derailing.
So be prepared. Be flexible. And have a great year.
Sarah Kincius is a Naperville resident and student at Loyola University Chicago. She loves going to the Green Mill to read whatever’s etched on the bathroom stalls (and to listen to the music, of course). Sarah is currently teaching herself Italian from a book she found in Wisconsin.