How to write an effective marketing plan for 2016 now?

Business is dynamic. Change is the only constant thing. Trends, people, company strategy itself may change. so does it make sense to think 4-5 quarters ahead and create and agree on a 2016 Go-To-Market plan?

Yes it does and that’s is how it should to be done.

Great. Good to know. So the question is where do I start? what if my group is just 5 people/ 50 people?

Let’s begin…First, stick to the basics. Assuming you have your buyer personas (Definition of who is your primary buyer and what are their day-to-day challenges), validate them through the usual process: win-loss analysis, buyer interviews, talking to sales/ support, etc.

Once you have a final snapshot of today’s buyer personas (at least 2-3 personas would be better), you can start thinking about putting your GTM plan together.

My assumption is that your are a global company that has at least 5000 employees. If you are a smaller company, it is easier for your to skip few steps and meetings and get your plan.

Where to start your GTM plan? Two places. Your product/ services roadmap, or your company’s next year strategy (or 1-2 years strategy document).

Once you have at least one of them, you start with a primary global GTM theme for the next year. It shall be relevant to all geographies for almost entire next year. Let us call it the ‘Big Hits’. As an example, if you have a marketing consulting company, Big Hits could be ‘Delivering marketing as a service’. Make sure that your Big Hits is outward/ customer facing and not your internal goals.

Now divide your Big Hits into four goals for four quarters. The best practice is to run company wide campaigns for at least a quarter, even if your’s a small & agile company. Now let us call it ‘Big Bets’. A typical example for Big Bets could be a ‘thought leadership’ , ‘industry-event’, ‘industry-trend’ focused, etc. Going back to our marketing consulting example, Big Bets could be ‘Delivering the best product-launches in 3 months’ could be Q1, ‘combining buyer personas with SEO, SEM, and social media’ could Q2, ‘Preparing for industry event’ could be Q3, ‘Maximizing holiday-sales in 3 days’ for Q4, etc.

Now you have, the Big Hits and Big Bets, it is time to get down to the details. The success truly depends on this details and let us call it the ‘Last Mile’. This details Big Bets such as what, where, when, how, why of the executable campaign. For instance, selecting a specific buyer in a specific target segment for a specific duration using 1-2 high value asset/ campaign that our buyer cares in this part of buyer’s journey or sales cycle. All without losing focus on Big Hits or Big Bets. We can have 2-3 Last Mile campaigns for each Big Bets and it could have various route-to-market strategies such as channel, partners, ISVs, direct, tele-sales, digital, social, or anything else.

At the end of this exercise, what you have now is your company’s strategy for 2016, product/ service roadmap, top 3 buyer personas, key messaging & challenges specific to personas, Big Bits for 2016, Big Hits for each quarter in 2016, 2-3 Last Mile campaigns for each of Big Hits per quarter.

The Last Mile has specific persona, their key challenges, targeted message for the persona, high value asset to get their attention, route-to-market to decide who executes these Last Mile campaigns and all the air cover that can be provided through digital marketing, SEO/SEM, social media, blogging, etc.

Work through all of this with your entire group of marketing and product management teams and you have a concrete, agreed GTM plan for 2016. You have 4-5 months ahead to get started with organizing resources, budget, creating high-value assets so that you can execute your GTM plan successfully from day-1.

What do you think? How do you guys plan your GTM ahead?

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