“Plan your work and work your plan” is true, especially for successful marketing. By writing down your plan with a clear schedule, budget and priorities, you can better execute your plan and evaluate its effectiveness to jump-start planning for next year. Whether you need help developing or executing your marketing action plan, we can help you get back on track and stay there.

Here are our top tips for developing and executing a marketing action plan that is on target, actionable and successful.

1. Interview Your Customer
Interviewing your customers or prospects about their needs and desires is invaluable to the marketing planning process. It is easy to overlook this step; however, if you are relying on assumptions and outdated information about your customers, you can head down the wrong path. Also, when you interview existing customers, this is your opportunity to ask them about their experiences with your company. Corroborating your assumptions by having in-depth conversations with your customers can help energize you and spur on new ideas about the key benefits your company provides, which may be different than what you originally thought.

2. Write It Down
Your marketing action plan should be written down: objectives, priorities, positioning or messaging statements, tactics, calendar and budget. Writing down your plan will help you think through all of the tactics and actions, and later it will help you evaluate your progress. At regular intervals you should update your marketing action plan with the status of each action item. Is it on track or off? If it’s on track, are there any results to share? If it’s off track, what’s the solution to get it back on track?

3. Prioritize Your Actions
Your marketing tactics should align with objectives and should have synergy with your sales objectives. Tackle the actions that will have the biggest impact on your bottom line first, then work on secondary actions later. If you’re strapped for time, working your plan based on priorities is the best way to make effective use of your time. Assign in-house or outside team members to help support these tasks if you don’t have enough time to get it all done.

4. Yes, You Need a Line-Item Budget
You have to develop a budget. This provides guidance to your team and helps you evaluate the effectiveness of where you are spending your money. If you have never created a marketing plan with a budget, this approach might require more work in the beginning, but it’s important to understand the time and money it takes to implement your plan and the value of your actions.

5. Do More of What Works and Less of What Doesn’t
Finally, regularly updating your plan with results will help you identify what’s working and what isn’t. These metrics can help you jump-start and refine your plan for the following year, make budget decisions based on evidence and understand where you should focus your time and energy to have the best outcome for your business.

If you need help getting started with your marketing action plan or need help executing it, we can help. We are marketing professionals who cut our teeth in corporate marketing departments and have experience working for small and large companies.

Originally published in the Arizona Technology Council’s Tech Talk blog.