With 2018 approaching, it’s the perfect time for some reflection as you’re likely working through an annual planning cycle. Do you remember how you and your team started the year? Was there a detailed game plan to ensure all go-to-market constituents were working towards the same objectives? Did you conduct productive strategy discussions with your team far enough in advance of the start of Q1 to hit the ground running?
If you did, way to go! You probably started your planning ahead of time and likely have your planning underway for next year. If not, there isn’t a moment to lose – now is the time to dive in. Regardless of when you’re reading this, below are 4 key areas to focus on as part of your go-to-market planning.
It’s hard to plan for the year if you don’t know what financial resources you have (or will have) available. Analyze your revenues for the last year or two to determine what might be a reasonable amount to allocate to marketing efforts. According to Gartner’s 2016-2017 CMO Spend Survey, larger organizations typically budget 13% of their revenue while smaller organizations are around 10%.
Are there certain times of the year when more should be spent, such as leading up to a product launch or a key event? Are there months when you know cash flow will be strong or when things will inevitably be lean? If this information isn’t available, or you’re still not certain about calculating an appropriate marketing investment, working with a partner or consultant can help you visualize options at different levels and provide perspectives or ideas you haven’t considered.
Setting a reasonable annual budget doesn’t always mean allocating the same amount to each quarter or month, either. Determine when those investments are most likely to pay off and plan accordingly.
Looking for areas to invest marketing dollars that pay off? Check out our list of 4 smart investments for growth.
2. PRODUCT/SERVICE PLANNING:
With your estimated budget in hand, your next area to plan for is your product or service offering. Are there opportunities in your market to offer new products, features, or services? Are there any whose margins are hurting your overall profitability?
Knowing ahead of time what products or services are going to change or what new items are being introduced (and when) will help you create a more effective plan. Identifying and sharing a year’s worth of product or service milestones with your whole team not only means everyone will be on the same page, but also that marketing efforts can be planned ahead of time to pave the way for sales through sales enablement and demand generation efforts.
3. MARKETING COORDINATION:
To ensure marketing resources are ready to hit the ground running, it’s important to ensure there’s a solid plan in place for targeting the right audience(s), segmenting them sufficiently, and reaching and engaging them through campaigns and programs.
Is your team targeting multiple verticals, and do your marketing materials speak to their unique needs/pain points? What competitors are your targets comparing you with, and how will you win prospects over? What are the specific channels that should be utilized to reach your audience, and what are the costs involved? What marketing programs should be employed to attract, engage, and ultimately convert leads to deliver to the sales team?
Once those questions have been addressed, the next step is to identify resource and expertise gaps that need to be filled so everyone has (or will have) the tools they need execute on the vision.
4. SALES PLAN & CHANNELS:
Whether you have a full sales team or sales are driven by executives, it’s important to ensure you have sufficient capacity and expertise to support growth targets. In addition to dedicated sales resources, scaling a growing business often means finding the right partners that can help bring in the right opportunities.
Are there channels, alliances, partnerships or vendors that should be on the team’s radar to develop relationships this year? Are there existing relationships that should be leveraged more fully? What resources will be needed to support those relationships? While channel sales and marketing are topics of their own right, they are important components to consider in the context of the broader sales plan.
While it should already be part of your budgeting and goal setting process, if you haven’t already, take a look at how you’re forecasting revenue and monitoring your pipeline. What is your close rate? How many leads, sales calls, or opportunities are needed to meet your revenue goals, and do they vary quarter to quarter? Do you have the tools in place to monitor this information? Are all of your marketing resources (inside team, external agency, contractors, PR, etc.) communicating effectively with your sales leads?
Kicking off a new year with a refreshed go-to-market plan means getting all players on board, and it’s a critical component for the whole team to drive towards growth objectives with confidence.
If you’re looking for additional resources to help guide your teams’ planning efforts, we encourage you to review our “25 Go-To-Market Questions to Align Your Whole Team for Success” and you’ll have a great start.