Here we are… a month and a half into the new year and you never got around to putting together a marketing & sales plan for 2017. First of all, know that you’re not alone. A busy Q4 plus the holidays put a lot of businesses behind the eight-ball when it comes to planning.
But, don’t use that as an excuse! Just because the new year had already begun doesn’t mean there’s not time to still put down on paper what you’re going to do this year to achieve your revenue growth goals. So, here are my suggestions for getting it done…
The Plan Timeframe
First, re-consider your time frame. If the idea of developing a full-year marketing & sales plan seems a little daunting at this point, then tackle a shorter one – do it a quarter at a time. It will require frequent updates as the year goes on, but working with shorter time chunks allows you to respond more effectively to changing market needs and what’s happening at your firm.
Your Go-To-Market Strategies
Next, start with strategy. Strategy is the what you’re going to do, while tactics are the how (we’ll get to those in a minute). While there can be all kinds of marketing & sales strategies, the core ones follow The Marketing & Sales Pyramid™:
- Establish your position in the marketplace
- Build awareness
- Generate sales leads
- Nurture sales leads
- Acquire first-time clients
- Ensure repeat clients
For your shortened-timeframe plan, decide which of these strategies (one or more) should be the focus of your efforts. This decision will then drive the rest of your plan.
Making it Happen
Once you’ve chosen your strategies, you’ll need to brainstorm on the tactics you can implement that will support those strategies. Two things about tactics:
- First, one tactic can be used to support multiple strategies. For example, let’s say your #1 strategy is to ‘generate sales leads’ and one of the tactics you’ve decided to implement is a series of webinars. When people sign up for the webinars – you’ve generated the sales lead (strategy #1). And because you’ll be educating the attendees on a specific topic, webinars also help with your positioning in the marketplace as a subject matter expert (strategy #2).
- Second, pay attention to the details. Suppose your top strategy is to ‘build awareness.’ And you’ve chosen the tactics of advertising in targeted magazines, exhibiting at a key industry conference and getting involved in a few specific LinkedIn groups. Now, make sure to drill down into the details. For example, who is responsible for each phase of each tactic? What is the timing of each activity step within each tactic? Look at both sides of the house… what will ‘marketing’ do to build awareness and what will ‘sales’ do? How will you measure success? And so on…
OK, with all of the necessary information at hand, now it’s time to put together your marketing & sales plan. And while there can and should be many pieces to your plan, at an absolute minimum, start with these two elements:
- Your marketing & sales calendar is THE MOST IMPORTANT part of your plan. Make sure everyone involved has a copy and works to deliver what they’re responsible for when they’re supposed to deliver it (i.e. hold them accountable!). Also, using the calendar as a guide is a great way to walk through a weekly marketing & sales meeting to make sure everyone is on the same page.
- Tracking sheets: You can’t manage what you don’t measure. So, make sure you’ve got the mechanisms in place to track what’s working and what’s not. Start with a few key ones (you can always add more later):
- Key marketing activities: website activity from Google Analytics, email response from the platform you use; social media followers and engagement
- Sales activities: from your CRM – track # of calls, # of presentations, # of demos and pipeline status
- Bids submitted and bids won
- And, of course, revenue
As I stated at the beginning of this post, there’s still time to put together a marketing & sales plan for 2017 (even if it’s just a quarter at a time). So, gather with your marketing & sales colleagues, spend some time at the white board and get to work!
Remember the old adage: “You don’t plan to fail… you fail to plan!”