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Creating a Flexible Annual Marketing Plan

Predicting the future is impossible, but you don’t need a crystal ball to know that change is inevitable. Consumer trends and technology improvements aside, economic factors can shift quickly.

Meredith Cunningham Published: December 18, 2023
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At this point in the year, many businesses are examining their marketing plans for 2024. It’s always a good idea to devote time and attention to building out an annual marketing plan — after all, it’s your roadmap for the year ahead. But that roadmap should be more of a living document than instructions set in stone.

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What Does a Good Marketing Plan Look Like?

A good marketing plan is a clear, detailed strategy with well-defined goals and target metrics. Additionally, and perhaps most importantly, a successful marketing plan should be flexible and adaptable to the ever-changing environment – internal and external to the business. 

3 Reasons Why a Flexible Plan is a Good Plan

1. The Only Thing Constant is Change Itself

Predicting the future is impossible, but you don’t need a crystal ball to know that change is inevitable. Consumer trends and technology improvements aside, economic factors can shift quickly. 

Today, there is always the possibility that a new competitor could enter your area or that disruptive technology can make an entire service line obsolete. Your business offerings, target audience, and staff might change over time. Can your annual marketing plan adapt to accommodate that change?

2. New Opportunities Are Everywhere

You might not need to make a big shift or react to industry-shaking news, but being flexible with your marketing plan can open your business to opportunities to improve your results.

Think back to 2007. Social media was in its infancy, mobile optimization wasn’t on business owners’ radar, and consumers hadn’t yet come to expect relevant, personalized marketing content wherever they wanted it. Not every trend is worth jumping on, but a flexible marketing plan allows you to experiment and decide what’s worth investigating.

3. There’s Always Room for Improvement

Or at least, you should always look for it. A flexible annual marketing plan allows you to change if you’re not on track to hit your goals. For example, if you check in on your marketing performance against objectives and see that a particular strategy delivers great results, think through your options. Could you increase spending in that area to boost results even more?

Criteria for a Flexible Annual Marketing Plan

Now that we’ve established that annual marketing plans should be flexible, what does that look like? Here’s marketing flexibility in action:

  • Revisit your marketing plan regularly. Where do things stand? What needs to shift?
  • Maintaining a flexible mentality. That means understanding and embracing that change happens, not trying to fight it, and sticking to a plan that doesn’t work.
  • Leaving room in the marketing budget. For all of the reasons above, allocating space in your budget for unforeseen changes is helpful.

Just because things change doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to map out your marketing for the year ahead. But remember that your annual marketing plan isn’t finished until the year ends. Keep things flexible instead of treating them like a map with one destination and possible route. Being equipped to handle evolving demands in the marketplace and among consumers requires a willingness to make adjustments when necessary.

What to Include in Your Business’s Annual Marketing Plan

With flexibility in mind, here are a few key components of an annual marketing plan that your business should consider.

1. Gain Insight into Past Performance 

To optimize your marketing performance for the coming year, it’s important to understand the prior year’s performance to understand what worked/didn’t work. With data driving strategic decision-making, you are setting your marketing campaigns up to maximize ROI for your business. 

2. Conduct a Competitor Analysis

When planning marketing initiatives for the coming year, conducting a competitor analysis helps identify market opportunities and gaps.

3. Create Customer Persona Profiles 

Creating a marketing persona profile is a great way to understand your customer’s wants and needs for the coming year. With a better understanding of your customers, you can design effective, targeted marketing campaigns. 

4. Establish a Budget 

Setting a budget, with room for flexibility as needed, helps to set realistic expectations and goals for the coming year.

5. Determine KPIs

Establishing Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) supports well-defined goals with measurable metrics for marketing success. 

Start Designing Your Annual Marketing Plan with TEGNA

Ready to start your marketing plan for 2024? TEGNA is here to help with linear, streaming, digital, and measurement solutions available to support your business’s marketing and advertising goals. Get in touch today.

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