Good question. With the pace of change in today’s marketplace does it make sense to create a plan or should marketers just take advantage of emerging trends and “go with the flow”?

The answer is yes and no.

A good Marketing Plan is the road map that leads your brand to the desired destination. The Plan is ideally the most direct route to get you to where you want to go but, like every good Plan, it needs to have the flexibility to go off the beaten path to take advantage of new opportunities and emerging trends. The trick is knowing when and where to take the path less travelled. Take the wrong path and you could find yourself lost in the woods.

So, how do you keep your Marketing Plan relevant?

Set a clear destination.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there. In other words, you need goals and objectives against which you can measure your positioning and performance.

Don’t use a plane to cross the street.

Your mode of transport is a strategic decision and your choice will depend on your target segment and the type of customer experience you want to deliver. You’ll need a boat or a plane to span the ocean but what’s the best way to cross the street? Choosing the right methods and media channels requires knowledge and expertise.

Power up a bright dashboard.

Before departure, make sure you’ve defined your key performance indicators (KPI’s). Be sure to track results at regular points along the way and share them with your team. These data-informed insights will help your team make better decisions.

Know when to exceed the speed limit.

Like any good plan, realistic timelines for implementation are set well in advance, but speed to market is critical for some brands. Taking your foot off the gas could mean your competition passes you by, but rushing isn’t ideal either. A good marketing plan will determine when it’s okay to be slow but steady, and when you need to hit the gas to avoid being left behind.

Avoid traffic jams.

The marketing highway gets busy, especially when everyone decides to do the same thing in the same way. If you find yourself on a busy highway, know when to stay in the passing lane, and when to take the next off ramp and find a better route.

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will take you there.

George Harrison

Know when to take a detour.

We all encounter setbacks and roadblocks, whether it’s a swing in the economy or our fear of failure. Most of us are prepared with a contingency plan, but what happens when a new trend emerges? Do we chase the new shiny thing or stay the course? The road ahead may be bumpy, but a detour can still get you to your destination.

Keep a compass and flashlight handy.

Brand perceptions change over time relative to your competition. Brands need to be well informed and monitor their results to better understand the risks and rewards of the decisions they make. Your brand needs an integrated Marketing Plan and knowing when and where to pivot is essential to stay relevant to your customers.

Learn more about how we have helped brands find a better road map.

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This image of a weathervane set against a dramatic sky was chosen to represent the blog’s theme of relevancy and the need for marketers to stay flexible in times of change. Weathervanes symbolically feature roosters as announcers of a new day. Today, weathervanes are used mainly for decorative purposes.