In the dynamic world of B2B marketing, where success hinges on data-driven, omnichannel and digitally transformed strategies, the task of creating a winning marketing plan that drives leads and closes deals is a challenge faced by many marketing leaders. Whether it’s a self-imposed mission or a directive from the executive team, building a top-tier marketing plan that delivers tangible results is a pressing endeavor. So, where should you begin, and how can you ensure that your marketing plan is poised for success? Understanding the importance and purpose of a marketing plan is the first step toward implementing best practices and crafting your own triumphant B2B marketing strategy.
Go Beyond Goals and Objectives
A successful marketing plan goes beyond listing goals and objectives for the coming year, quarter or month. It outlines the company’s marketing strategy, identifies the target audience and market and highlights specific activities and deliverables within the plan. This comprehensive approach forces you to think holistically, from high-level company goals down to the individual marketing activities that will support them and ultimately, generate leads.
A reliable marketing plan should also assign boundaries to keep your budget, resources and your timeline within scope. If you don’t assign constraints, it’s easy to get hung up on individual activities that may not be worth your time and resources. This feature also provides an objective assessment of which activities are realistic for your team and the best ways to leverage their strengths. Lacking a designated content marketing team, for instance? Look for ways to repurpose content or consider outsourcing to other marketing experts to fill in the gaps. Establishing your goals proactively affords you the time to strategize which ways to go about achieving them.
Ultimately, a marketing roadmap sets clear expectations. Ensuring your team comprehends core goals, objectives, and initiatives fosters a cohesive and accountable team culture, a pivotal element for marketing success.
Get Set Up for Success
An effective marketing plan considers internal marketing goals and overarching corporate initiatives. Consider company goals such as growth, sales performance, lead generation and market penetration. It’s important to analyze the return on investment (ROI) of past marketing activities and factor in recommendations from sales around what marketing tactics were most beneficial for generating quality leads and closing deals. By taking a comprehensive approach to your planning, you let it inform the strategy’s direction and can ensure it’s prepared to support corporate revenue goals.
When executing your marketing plan, several strategies and considerations are considered best practices whether it is for a client or internal marketing efforts. This framework can also be easily modified to align with your unique offering, marketing budget and the specific activities you have in mind.
Refine Your Buyer Personas
If you haven’t developed buyer personas for your organization, now is the perfect time to start. It’s critical to know who you are targeting and how to prioritize those audience segments to make sure your company is staying competitive and that your messages are resonating with leads. If you have existing personas, dedicate time to updating outdated or no longer relevant information or fine-tuning profiles based on recent feedback from the sales team. It’s not a must to update your personas every quarter or year although it is a best practice to maintain the accuracy of your target audience and ensure profitable marketing and lead generation strategies.
Map Out Key Milestones
Make sure your marketing plan stays on track by creating a blueprint for how and when you will accomplish specific marketing activities. It’s also helpful to make sure you are always keeping your organization’s strategic priorities top of mind. Spending time with your team to develop a reliable calendar of deadlines and responsibilities fosters accountability and aligns individual members around the common goals you’ve established.
When it comes to formulating your plan of attack, think of the timing of each activity and how it correlates to other activities on the calendar. Consider upcoming milestones for your organization, such as events, and product launches. Evaluate your team’s bandwidths and unique strengths to ensure activities are realistic. Set yourself up for success by evaluating high-level corporate objectives with an honest assessment of internal capabilities will produce a realistic plan.
Develop a Comprehensive Budget
Avoid the urge to simply add an incremental amount to your most recent marketing budget and call it a day. Instead, outline the cost for each activity on your new plan and evaluate the total against your proposed budget. If you come out over budget, look for ways you can prioritize initiatives as essentials or nice-to-haves. A great example of how to save on costs is to repurpose past work. When fulfilling lofty content wishes, find old videos or past blogs that you can repackage to save your team both time and money.
A similar ranking approach should follow if you fall under budget as well. Rather than spreading extra marketing dollars across disparate activities, stick to your initial plan with clear, segmented objectives for items that must be accomplished and activities that will ideally be accomplished. This preliminary assessment will help keep your team on track and safeguard your roadmap against unforeseen budget cuts.
Measure and Identify Key Performance Metrics
Don’t forget to include key performance metrics that can be used to benchmark success. As your plan is executed, maintaining a single source of truth for performance is critical for identifying areas of improvement. It also becomes relevant when considering what activities you might want to multiply and what to focus on as you develop next year’s plan. The power to instantly assess your strategy’s success, from the number of leads generated to MQLs delivered to the sales team, gives you and your team the freedom to pivot, adjust and improve as needed for consistent improvement.
Evaluate previously used KPIs and look for new metrics to measure success and assess your progress even more accurately. Be sure to keep most metrics consistent so you can measure marketing and lead generation success over the long term. When considering which measurement additions to propose, poll key team members as well as leaders from other departments to ensure your performance is tracked against a holistic view of your organization.
Future-Proof Your Marketing Plan
No matter how much you follow best practices and prepare your marketing plan, unexpected (or even expected) organizational shifts, turnovers and changes often happen. Rather than disrupting your carefully devised marketing plan, these insider tips represent our tried-and-true methods for future-proofing your strategy.
Justify Every Move
Ultimately, you should be prepared to justify every activity and dollar spent on your plan, such as why produce a 4-page brochure, why one event over another, why allocate $X per month on remarketing and more. Dissect every activity and only add it to your plan if it makes sense. As mentioned, build your plan with a tiered approach in mind. Budgets often get cut and having the foresight to advocate for specific items over others helps ensure the essential components of your plan are protected.
Ensuring Budget Precision
Often activities on your plan will have associated costs that go beyond the time it takes to deliver them. For example, creating and running a lead generation campaign involves more than just content creation. Account for expenses like ad spend, lead management software, email marketing tools, and analytics platforms to have a comprehensive view of your budget requirements. Be proactive in accounting for additional and unexpected costs early so you don’t run over budget during execution.
Everything Is in The Details
To effectively execute your new marketing plan, get granular on all relevant details. This way, your proposal can be properly absorbed and considered. There is no need to walk fellow executives and budget controllers in your organization through every detail of your plan but coming prepared with such insights shows that you’ve “done your homework” and considered each aspect behind your strategy.
Set Confidence-Boosting Goals
When building out KPIs and communicating goals across the organization, keep your team’s feet securely planted on the ground with relevant and accurate metrics you can all be confident hitting. Balancing ambition with achievability is crucial for inspiring a dedicated team towards long-term marketing success.