For most marketing leaders, the annual planning cycle is upon us or will be soon. Your teams are most likely putting together their wish list for next year. New tactics, content, channels and the next big ideas are on their list. You want to go into next year confident that you’ll contribute to the revenue goal. To prevent failure, here are 6 steps to include in your planning process.


First, if you haven’t downloaded SBI’s latest research report you should do so soon. It includes a no-cost marketing workshop to qualified companies. This Year’s research focuses on what best-in-class marketing strategies look like. The goal of the workshop is to help you self-assess and identify where you have gaps. You’ll be able to compare your marketing strategy against top companies. Sign-up here.


This article focuses on Marketing Planning, which is documented in the research mentioned above. Many organizations struggle with doing this correctly. This article provides you with summary of the steps to improve your marketing strategy. Each step outlines the common problems organizations have. Then I pull elements from the report to show how world class companies operate.


The 6 Steps to Marketing Planning Step 1 – Revenue Planning

Define the plan for how you are going to achieve your revenue goal relative to your competitors.


The Problem:

To make the number, you need a clear plan. The CEO hands a revenue number to the marketing leaders and says, “This is what I need from you this year.” Without a revenue plan, the employees work disjointedly, and the probability of success plummets.


The Solution

To complete the Revenue Planning step, you need to answer the following questions:


  • What is the financial model that summarizes how we are going to make the number?
  • What is the financial model that summarizes the costs associated with making the number?
  • What KPIs do we need to measure to know we are on track?
  • What is the execution plan that details what we will do in pursuit of the revenue goals?
  • What resources are needed to make the number (time, budget, people, etc.)?


Step 2 – Budget Planning

Determine the budget needed and how to allocate it to attain your goals.


The Problem

With limited budgets, it’s critical to invest the dollars you do have wisely. Invest in programs that produce revenue, so you don’t lose your future budget.


The Solution

To complete the Marketing Budget Planning step, you need to answer the following questions:


  • What budget method is right for us (Percentage of Revenue, Competitive Benchmarking, Objective Based, Affordability, etc.)?
  • How will we track spending to ensure we are stay on track?
  • What is our desired return on marketing investment?
  • What budget do we need approved that is sufficient to meet our revenue goals?
  • What headcount do we need to get approved that is sufficient to meet our revenue goals?


To help you further with marketing budgets, download our B2B Marketing Budget Sizing Calculator. It will give you the framework to arrive at the ideal marketing budget number.


Step 3 – Product Solution Planning

Define, educate and provide access to products/solutions that solve customer problems.


The Problem


You need to offer your solutions to a market eager to buy. Marketing leaders often struggle with deciding how to bring products and solutions to market.


The Solution


To complete the Product/Solution Planning step, you need to answer the following questions:


  • How do our products/solutions compare to our competitors?
  • Where are our products/solutions on the life cycle of adoption?
  • What’s our positioning statement for each product/solution?
  • What’s our value proposition for each product/solution?
  • What should our messaging be for each product/solution?
  • What is our product/solution launch strategy?
  • What role do we need field marketing to play?
  • How does our pricing approach compare to our competitors?
  • What should our pricing strategy be?


Step 4 – Campaign Planning

Design marketing campaigns that attract buyers to your products/solutions.


The Problem

You need to launch campaigns that fill the pipeline with leads. Campaigns often do not have quality offers. Even a well-defined target audience will under-perform against weak offers. How can you know in advance which programs, activities and offers will work?


The Solution

To complete the Campaign Planning step, you need to answer the following questions:


  • What types of campaigns do we need to run (awareness, competitive replacement, upsell, cross sell, migration, new logo, nurture, renewal, etc.)?
  • For each of our campaigns, what are the objectives, budget, schedule, and goals?
  • For each of our campaigns, which personas are we targeting? What content assets and market messages will compel them to respond?
  • For each of our campaigns, what activities should we run (blog, websites, webinar, email, social media, direct mail, tradeshow, etc.)?
  • For each of our campaigns, what are the offers, calls-to-action, media and lists?
  • For each of our campaigns, what KPIs should we track and how should we report the data?


Step 5 – Content Planning

Determine the process for creating and distributing compelling content to attract target buyers.


The Problem

The amount of content ready for consumption has exploded. To get the ear of your potential buyer, you need relevant content, compelling content, and a significant mass of content.


The Solution

To complete the Content Planning step, you need to answer the following questions:


  • What are the content goals for the marketing and sales teams?
  • When, where, how do our buyers consume content?
  • What content do we have vs. need?
  • What trigger events put our buyers in the market?
  • What is our editorial calendar?
  • What content production schedule is needed to meet our content goals?
  • How do we incorporate SEO analysis in our content plans?
  • How do we promote the content we create?
  • How do we test and constantly improve content?


Step 6 – Data Planning

Define data required to drive marketing decisions.


The Problem

Data-driven decision making has become an expectation. There’s dirty data and systems data issues. Then there’s not knowing how to derive meaningful insight from too much data.


The Solution

To complete the Data Planning step, you need to answer the following questions:


  • What data do we have? What data do we need? Where do we have data gaps?
  • Where does the data you need sit? How can you get your hands on it?
  • What is the data architecture design needed to provide the data we need?
  • What data is clean vs. dirty? How do we keep the data we need clean?
  • Who owns what data? What does this data ownership mean?


Key Takeaway

Marketing Planning is where you develop revenue, budget, product/solution, campaign, content and data plans. When these 6 steps are executed, you are on your way to making the number.


You will know:


  • What budget is needed to set you up for success
  • How your product/solutions will solve customer problems
  • What campaigns to run and the content needed to attract buyers
  • What data you need along the way to help you make decisions


With the right plans in place, you improve your chances of success. Sign-up for SBI’s Marketing Workshop to get the complete overview of a world-class Marketing Strategy.