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Plan Your Marketing Now Use this simple worksheet for planning a year of successful marketing.

By Al Lautenslager Edited by Dan Bova

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

There are two good times for marketing planning: yesterday and now. We have no control over yesterday, but we do control "now."

Many people wait until the end of the year to plan marketing for the following year. Many put it off until the actual year starts. Regardless of your situation, the time to plan your marketing is right now. Let it begin with this column.

Since blank sheets of paper, especially for plan development, tend to be intimidating, I offer the following, worksheet-based, fill-in-the-blanks template.

Think through your answers. You can write quick answers the first time around but think them through as thoroughly as possible during subsequent reviews. Remember, this is the basis of your marketing for the year. The more thorough you are with your answers, the more effective your planning--and therefore marketing--will be.

Marketing Planning Questions

  1. What marketing worked well in 2007?
  2. What marketing worked partially well in 2007?
  3. What marketing didn't work well or at all in 2007?
  4. Are there any standout reasons for No 1. or No. 3?
  5. Define your current target markets.
  6. Did your 2007 customers fit your current target market definition?
  7. What new markets will you target in 2008 for the following areas:
    1. Geography?
    2. Product-oriented users?
    3. Income and demographics?
  8. Revise your target market definitions based on No. 7.
  9. What are the following message components for your target markets:
  1. Headlines?
  2. Benefits?
  3. Offers?
  4. Calls to action?
  5. Other?
  1. What message components need to be enhanced, concentrated and revised?
  2. What new messaging will you use in 2008 marketing?
  3. Based on message delivery and the markets targeted, what marketing vehicles will you use in 2008?
  1. Repeat of 2007 marketing vehicles?
  2. New marketing vehicles for 2008?
  1. What's the desired frequency for each vehicle and campaign?
  2. Based on No. 12 and frequency, what is your budget for 2008?
  1. Per vehicle?
  2. Per target market?
  3. Per period of time?
  1. After analyzing total costs and desired frequency, what's the adjusted marketing vehicle use, including ad size, designs and printing configurations?

Given all of the above, lay out the marketing initiatives (X) on a timeline (Y) using a simple spreadsheet. You'll be well on your way to a productive year of marketing in 2008.

Al Lautenslager

Author, Speaker, and Consultant

Al Lautenslager is an award-winning marketing expert, bestselling author, highly sought-after speaker, consultant, and entrepreneur. He is the principal of Market For Profits, a Midwestern-based marketing consulting firm; former president and owner of The Ink Well, a direct marketing, printing, and a Certified Guerrilla Marketing Coach.

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