by Kenzie Lee
January 28, 2021
If you’re a marketer that spent MONTHS planning and preparing a marketing strategy for 2020, only to realise that with the pandemic, lockdowns, and global shift to “go virtual,” it was best to throw your marketing strategy out the window (I’m here for ya, it’s ok to cry). After watching your hard work and your world be turned upside down, it begs the question: Is 12-month cycle strategic marketing planning the best way to do things or should we consider quarterly planning?
Say you pull together a full year strategic marketing plan and start off quarter one and totally crush it; leads are strong, customers are happy, the business is booming, should you continue with the same strategies all year? Or if you totally tank in quarter one with a dead pipeline, a sprinkle of customers, and slow business. Has all that work you did planning for the year gone to waste? Planning for an entire year is challenging with all of the unknowns that your business will face in the future.
Now, I’m not saying that there will be another global game-changer event like the COVID-19 pandemic that will only make quarterly strategic planning the way to go. Though it is good to consider the rapid changes that happen every day; trends are changing, technology is changing, customer preferences are changing, the way to reach your audience is changing. There is constant change and marketers need to pay attention to these details or marketing efforts will become irrelevant, thoughtless, or disconnected.
Thinking about taking your marketing strategy at stride and planning quarter by quarter may seem, unproductive, last minute, or redundant. Quarterly planning is a chance for the marketing team to evaluate what worked and what didn’t work last quarter. In quarterly planning, marketers should ask, how can we do better? How is the market responding? What has changed in the business? What is the data telling us? What does our budget look like? Are we on track to meet our goals? Quarterly planning is an opportunity to reflect, evaluate and adjust.
A productive quarterly planning process includes meeting with leadership, marketing, sales, and customer service teams in the business to review, discuss, and brainstorm effective and ineffective marketing strategies. It is important to pull data from existing marketing tools like Pardot, Salesforce, HubSpot, Marketo, Google Analytics, etc. to get a quantitative view of what was successful and what fell short. It is good for marketers to meet with sales and customer success teams to get insight into qualitative data from the previous quarter. These teams work closely with the target market, and they will be able to tell you how customers are responding to marketing. Then, in reviewing the data and correlating activities, marketers can set up a plan for the next quarter to continue with existing or add new strategies for the upcoming quarter.
Quarterly planning offers many advantages for a business when it comes to pulling together a marketing strategy. First, with the constant changes like market, business, technology, and even unprecedented changes, it is difficult to create a full annual plan that will account for the dynamics in the far future. Second, quarterly planning helps build a more productive and focused marketing strategy because it allows for testing, review and adjusting. Lastly, quarterly planning takes on a more data-driven approach as it encourages marketers to constantly review and get insight from sales and customer service teams. This gives marketers an opportunity to adjust strategies based on quantitative and qualitative feedback so that businesses can better market to their target audience.
At the end of the day, it is all about delivering value to the customer. Quarterly planning is an effective way to keep the focus on your audience. The better you understand your customers, the better you can shape your messaging, branding, and strategies to help them discover the value in your product or service.
Keen to learn more about quarterly strategic marketing planning? We will be discussing what you need to know when preparing for quarterly planning at our upcoming webinar! You will learn about: 12-month planning vs quarterly planning, what to consider when considering quarterly planning, the strategic planning structure, and helpful templates. Register now!