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How often should you review your marketing plan?

Once you’ve signed off on your marketing plan, how often should you review and revise it? If you typically write your plan annually at budget time and then stick it on a shelf (either literally or figuratively), you may be making your work as a marketer more difficult.

The truth is that, rather than serving as a static guide that directs your marketing activities over a fixed 12-month span, your marketing plan needs to act as a living, breathing framework, able to adapt quickly to any and all changes – whether they’re due to evolutions in the market, your products, new challengers or even new governments. 

So how can you ensure that your plan serves as a living document, instead of a snapshot of a specific set of conditions that may already be out of date? 

The key is to review your marketing plan frequently – at a minimum quarterly, but monthly is even better. A quick-and-dirty review, done more often, can be a lot more effective that a time-consuming annual review.

To get started, choose your review schedule. Then gather your marketing team and all of your data. Take a close look at your plan, and ask your team these 4 questions:

  1. What’s working? Why is it working?
  2. What’s not working? Why not?
  3. What new developments (changes in the market, competitors, government, etc.) do we need to factor into the marketing plan? What adjustments do we need to make – if any – in light of these changes?
  4. Based on our answers to the questions above, what changes should we make to our marketing activities?

As part of your review sessions, question the value of everything – even the most “traditional” tools. It’s easy to get into the habit of rolling over the marketing plan each year, providing the same approach and tools to support trade shows, for example, or providing the same set of tools for all product launches.

Make sure you’re working towards an over-arching strategy, and not just doing what needs to be done, based on what’s been done in the past. Look at all activities with fresh eyes, and measure against the data, so you understand the ROI of each element.

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Do some additional research

In addition to the standard measures – leads, sales, ROI, etc. – (which you’ll have ready access to since most of what you are doing is digital), do some additional research to find out:

  • How have your competitors responded to your marketing campaigns? Have they copied a promotion, or matched your sales price?
  • What is the feedback from your marketing partners – distributors, resellers, etc.? Have they responded positively or negatively to a program?
  • Are your efforts closing the gap between marketing and sales, or increasing the divide? (You can measure this based on feedback and/or complaints from sales, etc.) To actively seek out this type of feedback from sales, try these suggestions:
    • Do a focus group with sales. What aspects of your campaigns do they like or dislike, what do they need that you’re not providing?
    • Do a ride-along with sales, and see how your tools are being used in real life sales situations. Go to a client presentation, and see what parts of the slide deck are shown. Observe at a trade show to see what tools are being used to talk with booth visitors. Maybe sales have devised a workaround (showing prospects information from your website on their own phones, for example), or made a brochure by printing part of a slide deck. Use this insight to improve the tools you’re providing.

Share your marketing plan and promote your results

Share your plan with all of the stakeholders at your organization, from your marketing staff to the executive leadership team. And share your results. Are you sending your senior execs frequent reports on your progress, with supporting data? Your review sessions will provide you with data on how your performance is measuring up compared to your goals (which you will have at your fingertips, because ideally you are accessing all the analytics you have at your disposal.)

In addition to keeping senior execs in the loop, this also helps when budgets are on the chopping block, by ensuring that marketing has a high and positive profile across the company. Keeping the channels of communication open is equally important across the functional departments of your company, since you’ll need to understand events that may impact your work – supply chain restrictions, labor disputes, etc. – since it all has an impact on your marketing strategies and goals.

Do you have questions about how to maximize the value of your marketing plan, and how you can use it as an evergreen resource to effectively guide your marketing activities?

At Living Stone, we help healthcare organizations of all types and sizes develop successful marketing strategies and plans. For more information or to schedule a call, contact Anne-Mie Vansteelant, at +32 55 591 007 or anne-mie.vansteelant@livingstone.eu.

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Resources

Forbes Communications Council, ‘15 Ways To Ensure Your Yearly Marketing Strategy Stays On Track,’ January 18, 2019, retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2019/01/18/15-ways-to-ensure-your-yearly-marketing-strategy-stays-on-track/#379359fc3a9b

Anne-Mie Vansteelant
Anne-Mie Vansteelant
COO | Managing Partner at Living Stone

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