First Step in Building a New Marketing Plan is Looking Back

marketing trendsReviewing a previous year’s marketing goals and accomplishments is the first step to preparing a new annual plan with realistic goals and objectives.

Many businesses start off a new year going full speed ahead with a new annual marketing plan without ever reviewing what worked or didn’t work from the previous year.

If you never learn from your mistakes then you are likely to make the same mistakes again. And, if something was successful for you then you definitely want to make sure you do more of the same.

Before you take the deep dive into your New Year marketing planning process – building a budget, defining goals and strategies, planning marketing tactics – take a step back with a long hard look at the year you just finished. There are some key areas that you want to be sure to review so that you can maximize your time and money for your next marketing plan cycle.

Identify Real Marketing Results

Take an honest look at the results you actually achieved throughout the year. Whether it was branding, lead generation or online sales, you want to be sure you are getting the results you desire. Hopefully you already put some tracking mechanisms in place so that you can trace real results back to specific marketing tactics. If not, then a more general assessment can be made to see if you reached desired results from your marketing plans (such as traffic metrics, increase in inquiries or online sales).

Build a Better Performing Marketing Plan

During your review process you want to be sure to make careful note of what results met your goals and where you fell short. For example, if you met your website traffic goals but fell short in meeting your online sales goals, then you want to be sure to ramp up your efforts in your new plans for online sales. This may mean better monetization of your website with more advertising or better merchandising of your products.

The goal for your New Year marketing plan is to focus on tactics that are the most effective from the previous year. Generally speaking, you should focus on doing more of what is working. Resources (budget, time or staff) will need to be reallocated accordingly to your most effective activities.

Adapt to New Target Opportunities

Keep an eye out for changes with your target audience, demographics or geographic market that may have an impact on your marketing plan. These conditions can change year over year and you certainly don’t want to be throwing money at a segment that no longer meets your defined targets. At the same time, be mindful of emerging marketing opportunities that are a good match for your target audience (like social media sites or new special local events) so that you are continuing to reach you key audiences.

Review New Marketing Tactics and Set up New Tests

Each year you should strive to try at least a few new marketing tactics. There are new developing opportunities for marketers every year that could become your next big lead or revenue generator. From emerging social media sites to local coupon deal initiatives, testing the waters with new marketing tactics should be a goal each year.

Review what new tactics you tested that should become part of your New Year marketing plan and which ones won’t make the cut. Don’t be afraid to drop something just because it seems like the next hot trend. If something does not work for your business, spend your time on something that does work. Review which new marketing tactics you want to set up as new tests for the next year’s plan. Be prepared to roll out new activities as opportunities arise throughout the year.

Analyze Budget and Make Adjustments

Keeping a good budget that is aligned with your marketing plan is really critical to ensure that you don’t overspend and that you maximize your ROI. If you were not able to stay on budget during the previous year, determine what areas pushed you over your budget. Maybe you spent too much on marketing materials and should investigate cheaper online printing options for next year.

Take advantage of simple accounting and bookkeeping software that can help you stay on track throughout the year and really understand where you need to make adjustments. This is also a time to review budget allocations for marketing activities. If your budget is to stay flat you’ll need to see where you can make cuts if you want to increase in other areas. A review of your past year’s results along with your expected opportunities will help you make the proper budget allocations.

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With nearly 30 years of integrated marketing experience, Diane is the founder of and author of the award-winning book PR Tools to Toot Your Own Horn. Diane also runs Marine Marketing Tools, a site that bridges her passion for boating and small business marketing, and two boating lifestyle sites: and