Five Things to Think About Before Developing Your 2018 Marketing Plan

Creating a marketing plan that is well thought out can be a complicated and time-consuming process. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind. Before finalizing your brand’s marketing plan for 2018, download this white paper from our Executive Director of Strategic Planning & Account Services Mike Stevens where he outlines five critical aspects of the planning process to ensure a successful year ahead. Download PDF Version

Learn From Your Mistakes

Before looking forward, it’s important to look back to understand what worked the year before and what did not. Start by digging into  analytic reports and gauging certain KPIs; ask yourself did you meet the metrics that were set forth? And if you didn’t, what prevented you from reaching those goals? This will help guide you in what optimizations could be made to improve this year’s campaign. Keep in mind, you can learn just as much from your mistakes as you can from your successes.

Additionally, it’s important to step out of your world and look externally to gauge what’s happening in the industry. Did your competition change their marketing strategy, plan or product? Has your target audience shifted media consumption patterns? Understanding the entire marketing landscape and its evolution will help highlight where you fit into the broader story.

Business Strategy And Marketing Are Tied At The Hip

It is critically important to understand the organizational business goals and incorporate those within your marketing goals. It could be a tactical goal like increasing account deposits for a bank, or selling more inventory for an e- commerce, direct-to-consumer, beauty brand. For other companies, however, the goal may be less tangible, but equally important such as increasing brand awareness, product differentiation, or driving consideration. Far too many times, marketing plans are developed to simply check off a marketing goal rather than thinking how it ties to the holistic business strategy.

It’s also important to acknowledge that not every marketing tactic has the ability to produce a one-to-one outcome, meaning that not every dollar spent will ultimately equal a dollar in sales. If that was the way marketing worked then we wouldn’t have to invest so much time into planning.  However,  if you’re not able to at least tie your marketing plan to the overall business objectives of the company, then the focus is too narrow. This will result in you having a difficult time justifying the success of your plan.

Your Audience Is Not Made Up Of The Same Kind Of People

In today’s world, understanding the types of people who comprise your audience is imperative to any successful marketing plan. The ability to target people has never been as easy as it is today because the data and psychographic information on people is substantial.

So, a key aspect of any successful marketing plan is to develop proper audience segments and articulate communications plans that are customized to each of those segments. A one-size-fits-all approach rarely applies to businesses and brands. Even if you’re trying to sell a specific product to a particular audience, the use of segmentation to test and learn between those audiences will provide you with more ongoing value as you shift forward within the next year and years to come. And while you will find patterns within audience segments, you will also find unique differences that will allow you to develop more strategic communication tactics, especially within the digital space.

Understanding Culture Will Keep Your Brand Relevant

This piece of the marketing puzzle can help spur ideas and add structure to the yearly promotional cadence. Begin by thinking about what events or conversations are happening in the world that your brand can jump onto or  be a relevant part of. This will help the brand insert itself into the  conversation, but in a more authentic manner. An example is tying a condiment company’s plan around the Super Bowl or a healthy snack brand around back-to-school season.

It’s beneficial to think about what’s out there in the world and how your brand can potentially be utilized. In addition, due to budget realities, most  companies can’t simply have an “always on” budget for their promotional efforts. Therefore, brands need to strategically pick and choose when to do something and why.

Measure, Analyze And Then Strategize

As a marketer, to provide value to your client, you need to report on the efforts that were executed—both positive and negative. But before you can measure, it’s crucial to ensure that the right KPIs are set in the beginning of the year. KPIs should not only tie  to your marketing strategy, but they should also tie to your overall business strategy.

For example, if the marketing strategy sets the goal to increase brand awareness, you need to think through how that will be measured effectively. Will you recommend long-term studies? Or if the goal is to move consumers from consideration stage to purchasing stage, you’ll want to receive the client’s prior sales information before you set up any KPIs.

Lastly, establish a cadence of reporting. In today’s world, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the amount of data you can receive on a daily basis with a few mouse clicks. So, agree upon a schedule of reporting ahead of time to continually, but strategically monitor the incoming information. That way you will be able to learn from the past and optimize your efforts. Whether it’s quarterly, monthly or biannually, plan to take a step back, look at what’s happening and think holistically about what you’re doing and how it drove results. Setting benchmarks, measuring success and continually monitoring is a key component to optimizing for the future!

It’s Worth It

Creating a marketing plan that is well thought out can be a complicated and time-consuming process. There are a lot of factors to keep in mind. By taking the time upfront to review past endeavors, thoroughly understand and evaluate your audience, and establish benchmarks and strategic goals, you will set your brand up for a successful year.

Mike Stevens is the Executive Director of Strategic Planning & Account Services at GYK Antler.  His passion is simple, helping companies and brands achieve their business and marketing goals and objectives.  A strategist at heart, Mike’s 12+ year career at GYK Antler has allowed him to work on brands including: Sweet Baby Ray’s, Stonyfield, Cedar’s, Bauer Hockey, Timberland, United Bank and PayPal.

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