It’s annual marketing plan season for most organizations. The time when companies develop next year’s budgets and plans for in-market activation. This should be an exciting time – developing ideas and approaches for delivering on purposes and goals for the year. But so many companies struggle to feed off this excitement.

One of the key problems is that many decide to start each year’s plan with a blank piece of paper, as if they’re starting from scratch. Like every year is its own one-act play or short story.

And to fill all these blank pages, companies often go straight to tactics and actions. We are going to do these tactics, build these programs, execute these initiatives.

However, your marketing plan should feel more like a chapter in a book, or an episode in an on-going series. That is, each year’s plan should be built off the foundations of the prior year. It should share the same internal logic; have consistent goals, objectives, desires; employ a similar cast of characters. And just like for the reader or viewer, it ought to move forward based on the learning and experience garnered from prior chapters or episodes.

Naturally, taking this approach helps marketers write their annual plans. But it also helps the tactics themselves feel less like one-offs, providing connectivity and common narrative across initiatives and marketing years. And it also helps add weight and substance to your efforts – for your employees, customers, prospects, and partners.

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