Amid the hustle and bustle of annual strategic business planning, many organizations fail to properly consider and define their marketing plans. While marketing planning may be a subset of the overall business plans, it requires a rigor all its own. Many business leaders do not understand how the marketing plan fits within the larger business plan and how it can be used as a tool to help accomplish business objectives.

Here are some tips to get you pointed in the right direction:

  • Start with the business objectives – marketing is a means to an end and all of your marketing activities should ladder directly up to your business objectives. Each business objective may have multiple marketing objectives contained within it, but the connectivity ensures that your limited marketing dollars are driving you towards achieving what you set out to achieve.
  • Define goals for each marketing objective – each objective should have one or more measurable goals associated with it. This is what you will build your marketing campaign to accomplish and these should be related to the business objective they ladder up to.
  • Frame out the big categories of activity – strategies define how you are going to accomplish your goal. Again, each goal will likely have more than one strategy. They describe the big buckets of activity that you are going to engage in and start to segment your budget.
  • Break down the categories into specifics – tactics are specific deliverables that serve strategies. The definition of a tactic is anything you are spending money on. This is truly where you must make choices of what you are going to execute in regard to your marketing plan. By defining overarching key performance indicators and ranking each tactic against those KPIs, you can create a semi-objective mechanism for prioritizing tactics. That helps you figure out what you should do and what you can probably live without rather than letting emotional connections to specific tactics cloud your judgment.

The method described above creates a fairly robust overview of your marketing plan and gives you insights into the optimization of your limited marketing budget. Obviously it is only a starting point for your strategic marketing activities, but it helps ensure that the rest of your communications plans are connected to a well defined purpose and that your dollars get maximum effect.