How to be Proactive in Your Strategic Planning for Next Year

“Failing to plan is planning to fail”

- Alan Lakein

Every business leader knows the importance of creating a strategic marketing plan proactively.  Unfortunately, Q4 always seems to sneak up on marketing leaders caught in “the whirlwind” of their day-to-day responsibilities. The result? Reactive thinking. Doing business without a plan is like driving to a vacation spot without a map or navigation system: it increases the likelihood of getting lost along the way while ultimately wasting valuable time and resources.

Related: Back to Basics - Using the Trojan War as an Analogy for Marketers

The key to a proactive strategic planning session is to proactively schedule the session in advance, remove all distractions (or “unplug” entirely), and provide structure throughout the process. This will ensure that all participants have the capacity to be “present.”

The Strategic Planning Process - Step 1: Assess the Present Strategy

In order to set realistic goals for the future, it’s important to take time to audit the current state of the company. For the marketing department, this means:

  • Reviewing organizational goals from the previous planning period

  • Outlining the measures taken by the marketing team to achieve those goals

  • Recording the results and identifying any shortcomings/gaps

  • Researching the competitive landscape

  • Determining which goals should be kept moving forward

  • Re-assess core values, purpose, brand vision, and elevator pitch

The Strategic Planning Process - Step 2:  Assess the Present Resources

Every organization has a finite amount of resources that typically fall into one of two categories: people and technology. In order to evaluate the efficiency within the organization, ask:

  • What technological resources are readily available to the company?

  • How is the company leveraging these resources? How could these resources be used more efficiently?

  • What are the various roles for employees?

  • Do these roles support the overall goals of the company? How?

  • Is every employee in the role that is right for him/her?

The Strategic Planning Process - Step 3: Map the Future

By this point, the marketing team will have the foundation laid for a traditional SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. Keeping the SWOT analysis readily available when mapping out the strategic plan for the next period will enable the marketing team to set a realistic action plan, capitalize on their strengths and opportunities, while proactively taking steps to address the weaknesses and threats. The resulting actions could be reallocating employee responsibilities, investing in new technological resources, or sourcing a new marketing agency to help with the strategic initiatives. Be sure to ask “why?” as much as possible during this stage.

The Strategic Planning Process - Step 4: Budget

After evaluating the present state of the organization and mapping out a strategic plan for the next year, the marketing department will have the necessary tools to create a marketing budget that is realistic.

Bottom line: Strategic planning is a must. It forces companies to map out their goals, it facilitates team-building synergy, it proactively addresses risk, and it helps ensure efficient use of company resources. 

AgencySparks exists to connect brand marketers to specialist marketing agencies. If you conduct your strategic planning session and find that your organization has gaps in its marketing capabilities, contact us.

To learn more about how AgencySparks helps companies focus on their strategy, watch this short explainer video: