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5 Reasons Your Annual Marketing Plan Will Fail

We’re all ambitious about New Year’s Resolutions. Some of us want to work harder for a promotion, others want to save money to buy a house, and a lot of us probably plan to hit the gym more. But according to Forbes, only 8% of us will actually achieve our resolutions.

The same can be said about your business’ annual marketing plan. Just like people, businesses have big goals for next year and many begin with a grand marketing plan. Yet 3 months later you can bet that 92% of you will have lost, forgotten or completely scrapped it – something I like to categorize as an epic fail.

What happens? Here are 5 reasons your marketing plan is bound to fail next year.

1. It’s way too vague or high level

You want to “grow your Facebook fans” or “improve customer engagement”. Great, lots of people want to “eat healthier” and “be a better person”, but they never stop to plan or decide what will define the desired outcome. The problem with your marketing plan is that you’re way too vague or high level. You’ve got no details that truly define your goals and tactics. How do you ‘grow your Facebook fans’? You could head over to Fiverr.com and buy a thousand fans for $5. There. Goal achieved, right?

You need to use the SMART method to make specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-bound goals for your marketing plan. Try “growing your Facebook audience of females residing in California, ages 25-40 by 25% in first 6 months of year while maintaining an average post engagement of 4%+” or “increasing customer reviews on the top 10 best selling website products by 20% by year-end”? These are the precise kind of goals you really want to include in your annual marketing plan.

2. You have no plan or tools in place to measure results

I can tell people I’m planning to reach the moon by July, but unless I show them my custom-built spacecraft and LeapGo branded astronaut suit, it’s just fluff. The same can be said about your plan to increase customer reviews by 20%. How will you do it? What’s your baseline (how many reviews do you have now)? How, where or when will you reach your audience? Your plan needs to include well-defined tactics like “send customers follow-up email for reviews after product purchase” and “make Add Review button accessible on all product pages”. If you don’t plan on doing anything different, you can’t expect new results.

You also need to make sure you have measurement tools in place. How are you going to track the increase in reviews or fans or sales? You need to be able to measure results and report on every goal and tactic so you can quickly compare your results to your marketing plan and tweak tactics when necessary.

3. You lack the resources to implement it…

A marketing strategy isn’t for the faint-hearted. It’s meant to be multi-faceted, detailed and long-term so that it can push your sales, revenue and partnerships to new heights. The problem is that sometimes you get carried away and add to many high level ideas without consideration for what’s really involved and it’s impossible to implement your shiny new marketing strategy given your limited resources.

This is particularly problematic with small and mid-sized businesses that have grandiose ideas (probably from consuming big business blogs and seminars), but don’t have the manpower or budget to pull it off. Your marketing plan needs to take into account available resources otherwise it’s never going to happen. If you overshoot at first, that’s okay, just scale back and prioritize the most important marketing strategies and put the rest on the backburner. As I like to say, “Do what you can do well, really well”. Everything else can wait.

4. … and you lack the time too.

One resource that marketing strategists seem to forget the most is time. It may not hit you until it’s too late. You get back a marketing plan that’s well thought out, beautiful, full of tactics and goals, but only after final approval do you realize you’re the one responsible for execution. Sure, the marketing plan can be achieved if you don’t have any other distractions in your day, like meetings, ad hoc projects, checking emails, and eating lunch. Time is something that you can’t buy or get back, so if there’s just not enough time in your day to implement your entire marketing strategy, then once again: cut back and prioritize or delegate!

Think about your primary goals and think about what matters most to the success of your company. Are you (or the intern) the right person to be executing this strategy? Do you have time considering all the hats you’re wearing? Make sure whoever is tasked with the execution of your marketing plan has the time and expertise needed to carry it out.

5. You make it, but never look at it again

Oh man, this is so common it’s not even funny. You spend hundreds, even thousands of dollars and countless of hours putting together (or hiring someone to put together) your annual marketing strategy. The final product is incredible and you can’t wait to get started.

Then you get back to work with all the right intentions, but completely forget about it by the time March rolls around. Then July passes… then September… and finally you get to the last quarter of the year and realize you accomplished nothing from the marketing plan because your company was reactive, not proactive.

Why burn thousands of dollars and dozens of man-hours creating a document you’ll never use? If you build it, USE IT! You’re building a map for which your company will follow. Would you spend all that time charting a course through the wilderness, only to throw the map over your shoulder and follow the first bird you saw because “it seemed like it knew where it was going”? Schedule a monthly marketing plan checkup for your entire team and confirm implementation is on course and on schedule. As new ideas and opportunities come up throughout the year, hold them against the marketing plan and see if they fit with your goals for the year. If you need to make changes, that’s ok, but don’t make a map if you’re simply going to follow the birds.

There’s a reason why the best companies in the world all develop and use marketing plans and you should too. So go over your entire strategy to make sure you’re not falling into any of these epic fail potholes and prepare to launch an awesome, detailed and worthwhile marketing plan next year!

Don’t know where to start? Give us a call and we can help you develop the right marketing plan for your company.