Marketing Planning: An Ongoing Process

In an industry like marketing that’s driven by having its finger on the pulse of cultural trends and attitudes, a major fear is becoming stale, outdated or thought of as “yesterday’s news.” At the same time, there’s a very real danger in being too quick to move away from the tried and true, especially in established businesses and industries. So, with the obvious need to strike some sort of balance, the clear question becomes, “How often should I update my marketing plan?”

At a fundamental level, any strategic plan, including strategic marketing plans, should be “living/breathing” documents. They aren’t static creations that are built and then set aside while other activities take center stage. This doesn’t mean, however, that marketing plans need to be constantly tweaked.

As Grasshopper pointed out in a 2011 post on its blog, there is no magic, one-size-fits-all timeframe or schedule for updating your marketing plan. Instead, Grasshopper points out four key elements that should help determine when, and to what extent, to update your marketing plan:

  • Your industry – a tech firm will probably want to update its marketing plan more frequently than, say, a steel manufacturer.
  • The presence of change in your company – if your company has changed in a major way, you should definitely think about how that impacts your marketing strategy.
  • Your consumer base – how have the tastes and attitudes of your base changed? How have the demographics of your base evolved?
  • The effectiveness of your current plan – obviously, if what you’re doing now isn’t working, it may be time for a change.

Even if factors like the four above tend to favor a conservative, steady marketing approach given your particular situation, that doesn’t mean you can turn a blind eye to your marketing plan and rest easy. It’s a good practice to establish a regular (preferably monthly) review process, so you can review results and make any plan changes that may be required.

The business world moves too fast these days to develop a plan that takes a 3-5 year outlook, creates strategies and tactics, and then lies dormant until the next planning cycle. Ignore your plan at your peril!

How often do you review and update your marketing plan?

Recommended Reading:

The Everything Guide to Customer Engagement

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