Create an Annual Marketing Plan in Minutes

Diana Christine Bitting
Create an Annual Marketing Plan in MinutesCreate an Annual Marketing Plan in Minutes

“Banners have 99 problems and a click ain’t one.” So said Scott Sorokin, Chief Strategy Officer at Razorfish, in June 2017—and boy have things evolved even more since then. For better or worse, banner ads are well on their way to extinction, and marketing in general is so much more complicated (and far more nuanced, and increasingly more specialized) than it's ever been before. But, fear not—we're here to help you get a game plan together that will not only organize your thoughts on strategy and deliverables, but impress your entire team with its professional appearance.

Note: This is the 3rd installment in "The Five Essentials: How to Start a New Business” series, dedicated to small, medium and startup businesses. In this series, we cover how to create a Business Plan and Company Overview, as well as the best Tech Tools to grow your business fast and free Sales Proposal templates you can customize. Here, you'll learn how to draft an Annual Marketing Plan.

One way to begin drafting a marketing plan is by using a customizable marketing plan template. You can just drag-and-drop your content into pre-designed slides based on professional recommendations and sources. The sample Annual Marketing Plan presentation suggests high-level topics to cover, outlines specific scopes of work, and visualizes marketing concepts to better communicate with and motivate your team. We dig into what you should include on each page of an Annual Marketing Plan presentation below.

Marketing plans need big goals

Highlighting a single, high-impact goal at the start of your marketing plan demonstrates you have a handle on what drives the business. For everything that follows you should be able to trace a line back to this goal. For now, show the clarity of your vision by keeping the slide simple. Sure, there's much to discuss here. But that doesn't mean you need to plaster it all on the slide.

Pick a target that really means something to sales, but that you can affect in the near term. Sales Qualified Leads (SQLs) is a good choice. Sales knows exactly what those are and that 1 in 5 (or whatever the math is) convert to won deals. Your organization may call these Sales Accepted Leads (SALs), or Stage 1 Opportunities. The point is, consider focusing your marketing efforts goal on the first moment where Sales looks at a lead and says, "yes, that's a good one".  

Big Goal
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How will you get there?

Chances are you're a ways away from hitting your Big Goal. So, you gotta show the incremental climb for how you'll get there. Show historicals so folks can see your current growth trajectory and highlight when you'll reach your big goal. Of course there's a spreadsheet that cascades these numbers down to specific campaigns. But this is not the moment for those details. The simple message is the growth curve is reasonable.  

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Always be prioritizing

Don't fall victim to "check-list" marketing. That is, don't feel compelled to create a giant list of all the marketing activities you can possibly execute. Hold on to the focus you established with your Big Goal and Growth Plan. Pick the 3 most important aspects of your marketing plan that will drive 80% of your results. Position these as your big levers. You will not be derailed from making them a success.  

3 Priorities
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A nod to the other stuff

Just because you're hyper-focused on 3 priorities doesn't mean that's all you do. There's low-hanging fruit to be had with a number of secondary marketing activities. You'll grab the goods and move on, but you won't get bogged down in these activities. This is a powerful slide because it serves as a shield for you to say "no" later on when people start asking for more press releases and product sheets. And believe me, they will.

secondary priorities
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Target personas

Selecting your target personas bridges the strategic and tactical marketing gap. It implies you've already done your segmentation and now you're ready to discuss the exact humans you'll be targeting for each segment. You don't need the details on each, simply point out who you'll be targeting and why at a high level. Some will be the actual buyers, some will be just influencers, etc. Make sure you make that point to avoid confusing sales folks.

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Marketing funnels make everybody's day

Who doesn't love the marketing funnel? We've seen some crazy ones in our time, and have found the simpler ones are the better ones. As mentioned before, all Sales really cares about are SQLs and Won deals. But you still will want to share your thinking on how leads will progress through your funnel. It's often best to present this as a cohort, that is, a visualization of leads who registered in a given and how many converted to MQLs, SQLs, etc. It may take a week or two for all your MQLs to to convert over (or not) to SQLs so there is always a time lag in there.

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Nothing so sweet as a SWOT

A SWOT analysis is an effective way to encapsulate a whole lot of thinking in a single slide. You may have other detailed versions of the SWOT analysis, but this one should only hit the highlights. And while the slide may be simple, the work needed to distill down your tribal knowledge is going to take some doing. Plan your time accordingly.

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And there you have it—a complete, comprehensive marketing plan that will guide you and your team for the next year. Of course, there may be some adjustments, but remember that the "big goal" you outlined at the very beginning of your presentation is the thing to commit to and remain dedicated to achieving for the next 12 months. Now it's time to customize your own marketing plan!

Diana Christine Bitting

Diana Christine Bitting

Diana Christine Bitting is a content director, tech journalist and marketing strategist at