4 Steps to Developing a Strategic Marketing Plan

By Marki Landerud, VP/Partner, Account & Business Development Director

November 18, 2016

Planning time is an exciting time of year. This is the time where you are able to truly reflect on everything that occurred in the previous year, identify new goals for the upcoming year, and develop a marketing plan that delivers on these goals.

If it were just that easy, right?

Planning—strategic, goal-oriented planning—is the only way to achieve marketing success. There are a number of variables that come into play when working on a plan, and these tend to vary based on the brand, size of the business, overall business needs, and—of course—budget. At S&B, we help clients of all sizes develop marketing plans. In our more than 60 years in business, we’ve created a sound internal approach to developing them efficiently and effectively. Developing and executing a strategic marketing plan is the best way to ensure that you are striving toward the right goals for the year, and that you do so within budget.

Here is S&B’s approach to planning and how we can best work together in order to walk away with a strategically sound marketing plan:


Step 1: Assemble the Team

While rewarding when it is complete, planning can be time consuming and stressful, especially if done by just one person. Thankfully, in most cases, there are numerous people that touch a brand day-in and day-out. These people have valuable brand and industry perspectives, and are able to provide great insights during the planning process. These individuals should all be included in the planning process at some point along the way, and usually the sooner the better.

Once the right people are in place, it is time to get started making the actual plan.


Step 2: Gather Details

In order to build a solid foundation for the marketing plan, we need to work together on identifying a base level of information to build on. These items include:

  1. Last year’s plan (if applicable or available), including any goals and budgets (making sure to include spent vs. unspent – this is important!):
    • Review of what tactics were implemented vs. outlined in the plan
    • Review what worked vs. what didn’t work
  2. Discuss and identify key information for new plan:
    • Target audience
    • Product mix – are there any new products to talk about or introduce?
    • Objectives
    • Strategies
    • Goals
    • Budget
    • Geographic markets
  3. Discuss “needs”:
    • Sales tools
    • Online content
    • Video assets

Once we have gathered all of this information and agreed on audiences, goals, and budgets, it’s time to develop the plan.


Step 3: Develop Plan

Based on the information gathered in Step 2, S&B moves ahead with developing a marketing plan for review. In most instances, the initial marketing plan includes tactics and a paid media recommendation that deliver on the marketing objectives, strategies, and goals outlined in Step 2. This is why the information gathering stage is so important in the planning process: it is the foundation for all the tangible items developed throughout the year.

It would be very easy to start a new year with a list of new tactics that you want to develop based on what is trending in the market place, or even based on what was developed the previous year. While these items may be successful, it is important for the longevity of the brand and the efficient use of the marketing budget to be as strategic as possible with tactical recommendations. The last thing anyone wants is to invest in a tactic that looks great and is on-trend, but doesn’t perform well because it doesn’t resonate with the target audience or reflect the brand message.

At this point, there are usually a couple of rounds of revisions and refinement before a final plan is attained. As your marketing partner, S&B provides rationale on all recommendations and we work through the revisions together to ensure the final plan falls within your approved budget, delivers on goals and objectives outlined by the team, and is strategically sound across the board.


Step 4: Implement Plan

With an approved plan in place, S&B works with each client on developing the proposed tactics, buying and stewarding the approved media plan, and implementing materials when complete. S&B’s role in implementation occurs at various levels depending on the client, and is completely up to the client’s preference and business need.

The key to developing a sound and strategic marketing plan is good communication. The most successful and rewarding plans are developed when all team members are on the same page from the beginning, agree on information gathered in Step 2 before moving onto Step 3, and then implement according to the plan. This, of course, is the perfect scenario and we all know that marketing is constantly changing and far from perfect. Communicating these changes and modifications can help keep a plan on track and on strategy, and help you reach your business goals in the new year.

Without a complete plan, created by the right people and with the right end goal in mind, any marketing effort is going to be a waste of time and money.


Got questions about your marketing plan? Send us an email at –we’d love to chat!


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