When someone tells you that you need a digital marketing plan — heck, any marketing plan — you say “sure, if only I had time.” After all, you know that planning represents an important step in being successful, but that doesn’t give you more time in the day to get it done. And what about all those special requests that your boss, donors, volunteers, colleagues, and others make throughout the year? Doesn’t that make a plan pretty useless anyway?
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best reasons to start working on your 2014 digital marketing plan today.
A digital marketing plan will save you time and money.
Your plan will help you to focus your online, mobile, and social media activities so that they align with your organization’s goals. By making choices up front, you will save money by investing in only the tools and tactics that will help achieve those objectives. In addition, you can use a smart, comprehensive plan to help when you respond to ad hoc requests from key stakeholders. You might help to re-shape the request, but in some cases you can use the plan to explain why the suggestion may not be the best fit to achieve the plan’s goals.
A digital marketing plan will help keep you sane.
With all of the available platforms, tools, tactics, and approaches to digital marketing, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Putting pen to paper (or keyboard to screen — or something like that) helps you to take stock of your potential activities and subsequently narrow them down to the ones that make the most sense, given available time and resources, as well as the goals and objectives set forth for your organization.
A digital marketing plan makes budgeting easier.
Even without a plan, you will likely have to put together a 2016 budget. Without a plan, you’re shooting in the dark, making wild guesses about what things will cost. Worse, you’re likely to base your budget on what you spent this year, making it harder to break free from status quo thinking and strategies. If you assemble a plan before you make your budget request, you can build from the ground up to ensure that strategy and finances find themselves aligned on January 1, rather than in conflict. Finally, your plan will help make the case to management for your budget, especially if you get buy-in on the approach and then present them with an outline of the resources needed to get there.
A digital marketing plan will prevent Groundhog Day mistakes.
Since a critical part of assembling your plan for the new year will be looking in the rearview mirror to assess the performance of your 2015 digital marketing activities, you’re much less likely to repeat the same mistakes again. Of course, Groundhog Day scenarios don’t just see mistakes repeated. There will be plenty of mediocre approaches that you will use over and over again, too. In addition, without a digital marketing plan, you’re less likely to try new things and explore new approaches. The planning process will allow you to think freely about how you might change things up rather than simply remaining on autopilot.
A digital marketing plan will enhance your knowledge.
Your brain will get a workout as you put together your plan — assuming you do it right. You should be talking to colleagues and stakeholders to better understand their needs, but you will also be investigating new technologies and seeing what works for other organizations. You should talk to vendors too find out how their solutions might help — and at what cost. In addition, you should be able to increase your knowledge throughout the year by incorporating training into your 2016 plan.
A digital marketing plan will maximize results and ROI.
Without a digital marketing plan, you’re more likely to take “me too” approaches to digital rather than making sure that all of your activities align with clearly stated goals and objectives. When you assemble your 2016 plan, you should ensure that all of your strategies and tactics relate back to specific purposes that will advance your organization’s future success. If you weave tactics and goals together, you will be much more likely to achieve success than if you find yourself being the accidental strategist.
A digital marketing plan will improve stakeholder relationships.
Your organization no doubt relies on donors, volunteers, members, students, alumni, funders, participants, and other key stakeholder groups that help determine success. Your digital marketing plan should clearly define your target audiences and outline how you will seek to reach and influence them throughout the course of the year. You also have the opportunity to improve key stakeholder relationships as part of the planning process, however. Reach out to selected representatives of each group as you’re putting the plan together and ask them what they would like to see your organization do in online, mobile, and social media. Find out which platforms they use and what they have seen other organizations do successfully in the space — then execute on those ideas in the new year.
A digital marketing plan will increase your personal stature.
The mere act of putting together a comprehensive plan will help to improve how many within your organization perceive you. If you’re not careening from one fire drill to another but instead assemble a thoughtful strategy — and then rely on it for execution — your managers, board, and colleagues will likely see you for the expert that you are. In addition, the knowledge that you gain throughout the process will help position your for more intelligent conversations with counterparts in other organizations, as well as well-informed donors, volunteers, members, and others you encounter throughout the year.
A version of this article originally appeared on 501central.