Creating an Annual Marketing Plan

Looking for practical guidance as you build your company’s annual marketing plan? Want it to be strategically sound and ultimately effective in getting you to your growth goals? You’ve come to the right place. Scroll down for the guide and related resources, then download the template to put into practice.

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This page and the resources it offers will help you plan for and develop an annual inbound marketing plan that’s based on a foundation of data and insights and outlines the tactics with the power to generate leads and grow your business.

Takeaways for the content provided on this page include:

  • How to develop an inbound marketing plan (and, if you’re not sure what inbound is or if it’s right for you, head on over to our “What is Inbound Marketing” page first)
  • How to set S.M.A.R.T. goals and KPIs
  • The components of an annual plan
  • How to prioritize the tactics you’ll implement
  • How to use quarterly roadmaps to provide focus and agility
  • How to measure against plan and prove ROI

Annual marketing plan strategy

Follow an Effective Planning Process

There are a number of ways to build your annual marketing plan, but there are some “non-negotiable” components that are foundational to the process and the quality (actionability and effectiveness) of the final product. These are components that ensure you’re being thoughtful in both your review of past activities and results, and in your approach forward. Following this process also aims your efforts toward the right goal, using the right strategies and tactics.


Read This Overview of Best Practices
to follow to ensure the best plan possible:


Setting Relevant & Realistic Goals

Every marketing plan starts with a review of the past year’s business and marketing goals and a look at how well you did in reaching them. This retrospective will help inform what you do next year — what to repeat, what to double down on, what to eliminate, and what to consider as new tactics.

And while the KPIs you identified last year made sense at the time, they may be irrelevant this year — it all depends on your industry, your markets, your customer mix, and most importantly your business growth objectives. So in the process of building your marketing plan, you should evaluate your current KPIs’ usefulness and modify as needed.


Read more about Goal Setting:


Attacking the Growth Gap

Once you’ve identified the right sales and marketing goals and KPIs to measure and analyze in the upcoming year, you’ll be able to estimate the actual gap between the results your current efforts are getting today and the goals you've set. That “shortfall” is what you’ve got to attack throughout the coming year.

Read More About Closing the Growth Gap Between Where You Are and Where You Need To Be


Allocating Your Annual Inbound Marketing Budget

As you consider the strategies and tactics you might employ in order to reach your goals, you’ll be thinking about costs, too, and prioritizing the tactics that have the greatest potential to get you to your number. While inbound marketing is constantly evolving, one component of high-performing inbound marketing plans remains constant: compelling, relevant content. But, how much of your annual marketing budget is devoted to content development versus content distribution and promotion or other core inbound strategies will depend on a number of factors, including how much content you already have to work with.


Check Out These Resources on How to Determine an Annual Inbound Marketing Budget:


Creating Quarterly Marketing Roadmaps

Annual inbound marketing plans are most effective when they’re used in tandem with quarterly roadmaps. Your annual plan should lay out the marketing initiatives at only a high-level as needed to align with the yearly business goals, whereas quarterly roadmaps are the tactical plans for the year, created at the beginning of each quarter. Roadmaps make it possible to adjust your annual plan at points throughout the year, based on changing market conditions, and on data that tells you how well your tactics are performing.


Read More About the Why and How of Quarterly Marketing Roadmaps:


Measuring Progress & Demonstrating Marketing ROI

Everything you do in an inbound approach can be tracked and analyzed, meaning you can quickly demonstrate the ROI of your strategy and tactics. That makes the process of roadmapping more effective in steering you to your annual goals.


View These Resources for Help Identifying Metrics That Matter:


Free Annual Inbound
Marketing Plan Template

What’s included in an annual inbound marketing plan? Is there a template you can follow each year? There are definitely templates out there, including one of our own! While some marketing plan templates don’t include every one of the elements we do, each improves the quality of the plan you produce — because the more aligned your plan is with your goals, the more effective your tactics will be in delivering the right results.

Our template includes examples, guidance, and space for you to write your own plan that includes:

  • Executive summary — business and marketing performance review & takeaways
  • Goals, Objectives & KPIs — where you’re going & why
  • Key marketing initiatives and plan components that align with business goals
    • How to use the Flywheel to identify and prioritize opportunities for growth
  • Budget — what you have to spend on each initiative
  • Measuring & reporting progress — cadence and tools needed

You can optimize the process of creating an effective marketing plan by taking advantage of our inbound marketing plan template — a resource that walks you through the components necessary to develop a plan that will get you to your growth goals. To access the template, just fill out the form and it’s yours!