It’s that time of year — the leaves are changing colors, and marketing teams and agencies are locking themselves in the room for hours at a time to develop an annual marketing plan that will sit in an unopened file on your servers for the next 12 months. It’s time to opt out of the creating the long annual marketing plan in favor bullet list of tactics — an action plan.
What’s the difference?
Well to begin with, an action plan is much shorter than a marketing plan because it does not include all the typical marketing jargon that nobody reads anyway. It only includes action items that need to happen in the coming year in short bulleted points. It’s also broken into easy to understand chunks of information based on milestone events and product launches.
For example, you’re likely going to be introducing a bunch of new products at or around a tradeshow so what actions need to happen in conjunction with that milestone to make the best and biggest impact? Make a list and put some budget numbers next to it. There’s what an action plan looks like.
PR Action Plans
While Amber and I have been included in the tedious process of creating many marketing plans, we prefer to stick to what we do best — public relations. So, I wanted to spend a minute explaining what goes into a PR Action Plan.
Here’s what we need to know up front:
- What tradeshows/events will a client be at or plans on holding?
- What new products are being introduced?
- What other major announcements will be made in the coming year?
- What are the key messages the company wants to convey?
- Who are the company’s target audiences?
From here, we develop a list of actions based on the timeline of everything. We will also identify the appropriate media outlets and review editorial calendars to identify opportunities. Also, if we’re helping with content marketing, we’ll develop a list of topics and timeline for publishing.
Fairly straightforward, right? It’s also easy to reference and cross to do items off on a regular basis.
I believe this is the right approach for most companies because it encourages action…and action is what gets results. Action is also the only way know whether a specific approach or strategy will work. If something’s not working, take a different action.
Too many companies and agencies will spend the bulk of their time planning, which will then cut into the resources could have been used to take more action. Or worse yet, attempt to force something to work when it’s clearly not because they feel the need to follow the rigid plan they developed.
Don’t get me wrong — it’s important to have clear overall marketing objectives, but those should not change from year-to-year. Once your team knows what those objectives are, you certainly do not need to spend significant time each year rewriting them; instead, make a quick action plan that everyone can get behind and go.
You can’t make an impact without taking action….no matter how thought out your plan is or how much money you paid an agency to think about your business.