3 Reasons Every Annual Marketing Plan Should be Flexible

| November 07, 2017

It’s not possible to predict the future, but you don’t need a crystal ball to know that change is inevitable. Consumer trends and technology improvements aside, economic factors can shift quickly.

At this point in the year, many businesses are examining their marketing plans for 2018. It’s always a good idea to devote time and attention to building out an annual marketing plan — after all, it’s your roadmap for the year ahead. But that roadmap should be more of a living document than instructions set in stone. Why?

3 Reasons Why a Flexible Plan is a Good Plan

1. The Only Thing Constant is Change Itself

It’s not possible to predict the future, but you don’t need a crystal ball to know that change is inevitable. Consumer trends and technology improvements aside, economic factors can shift quickly. Just ten years ago, the United States was starting its longest economic recession since the Great Depression. Today, there is always the possibility that a new competitor could enter your area or a disruptive technology can make an entire service line obsolete. Your business offerings, target audience, and staff might change over time. Can your annual marketing plan adapt to accommodate that change?

2. New Opportunities Are Everywhere

You might not need to make a big shift or react to industry-shaking news, but being flexible with your marketing plan can keep your business open to opportunities to improve your results. Think back again to ten years ago. In 2007, social media was in its infancy, mobile optimization wasn’t on business owners’ radar, and consumers hadn’t yet come to expect relevant, personalized marketing content wherever they wanted it. Not every trend is worth jumping on, but a flexible marketing plan gives you the wiggle room to experiment and decide what’s worth investigating.

3. There’s Always Room for Improvement

Or at least, you should always look for it. An annual marketing plan that’s flexible allows you to make changes if you’re not on track to hit your goals. For example, if you check in on your marketing performance against objectives and you see that a particular strategy is delivering great results, think through your options. Could you increase spending in that area to boost results even more?

Criteria for a Flexible Marketing Plan

Now that we’ve established that annual marketing plans should be flexible, what does that really look like? Here’s marketing flexibility in action:

  • Revisiting your marketing plan on a regular basis. Where do things stand? What needs to shift?
  • Maintaining a flexible mentality. That means understanding and embracing that change happens, not trying to fight it and stick to a plan that doesn’t work.
  • Leaving room in the marketing budget. For all of the reasons above, it’s helpful to allocate space in your budget for unforeseen changes.

Just because things change, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t take steps to map out your marketing for the year ahead. But remember that your annual marketing plan isn’t finished until the year is over. Instead of treating it like a map with one destination and possible route, keep things flexible. Being equipped to handle evolving demands in the marketplace and among consumers requires a willingness to make adjustments when necessary.

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