young employees brainstorming with an easel pad

Happy Hour Will Resume After Quarterly Planning

FML it’s time to write the quarterly marketing plan.

I’m pretty sure you can relate to late nights during quarterly marketing planning.  It’s late. I have so many tabs open I’ve lost track of where I am. This would be way better with wine (yanks laptop off docking station, runs for door).

Of course, we track throughout the quarter, but the EOQ roundup is a big deal—and rightfully so. Your marketing plan for the upcoming quarter is only as good as your audit of the past.

>>Related: Driving Sales and Marketing Alignment During Planning<<

It helps to focus on a few key questions, like:

  • Did the company achieve its revenue target? What was marketing’s contribution?
  • Which campaigns generated the most leads? The fewest?
  • Which campaigns had the highest impact on the pipeline?
  • How did the funnel perform compared to your assumptions?
  • Did anything unexpected happen? What and why?

Whether your team adheres to a lead target, an opp target, or an ABM strategy that focuses on engagement within key accounts, ask the right questions, get the answers, and document that data in your quarterly marketing plan. When you gather the team for a marathon planning session, the “Look Back” slide should be your starting point—inviting the team to unpack what worked and what didn’t.

Stop. Start. Adjust.

Stop, Start, Adjust is an annual and quarterly exercise that forces brevity and clarity around where you’ve been and where you want to go. Assuming your lead and opp targets don’t fluctuate wildly from quarter to quarter and you know your goals, dedicate a session to outline the practices that need to go away completely, that need to begin in earnest, and that need to be optimized for better performance.

Here’s an example of how the exercise can take shape:

Once you’ve nailed Stop, Start, Adjust, move on to budget. Do you have the budget to support new initiatives or fine-tune what you already have? Can you reallocate anything from the Stop column? Here’s a few practical tips that’ll help you stay on track:

3 Guidelines to Throw on Your Quarterly Marketing Plan Whiteboard Right Now

1. Be bold enough to kill anything that isn’t working

Seriously. Do not be afraid of losing leads. If you have campaigns or channels that generate leads with abysmal conversion, take them out back and shoot them. Free up that budget to try something new. You have nothing to lose.

2. Revisit your target personas

Funny how we lose sight of who we’re actually marketing to in the midst of all the number crunching. Make sure everyone is clear on who your target personas are and aren’t—and evaluate whether your programs do a good job of reaching them. Be prepared to abandon generic offers that cater to everyone and no one.

>>Free Persona Template via Hubspot<<

3. Budget with agility

Start with the big buckets and assign budgets accordingly, then follow through with a budget review every two weeks and adjust as necessary. Give your team the freedom to spend smarter on campaigns that move the needle.

 

Planning doesn’t have to be painful.  The Modern Marketer’s Workbook for Annual Planning will help you answer marketing’s toughest question:  what worked?

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