Creating a Marketing Plan for 2012Putting together and creating a marketing plan for 2012 can seem a little daunting at first but failing to plan is planning to fail! Producing a list of all your activities will help keep your budget spending under control as well as making it easier to measure the effectiveness of your marketing spend. If this is something you have never done before, it can even be done using a couple of very simple tools:

* Excel spreadsheets allow you to easily create the columns for every month, splitting those into sections that will show what you are budgeting for and what you have already spent.

* An A3 sheet of paper is as simple as it can be to start creating a marketing plan for 2012. Using the same column principle above, you can be planning in no time!

If you are setting a budget (or applying for one), either of the above will give you the foundation to be able to show just how much money you think you will need. It will also show how much of your budget is remaining once you are under way!

There are various categories that would be worth including throughout the year. Some of these might not apply to your business at all. It really depends what is right for your business in terms of marketing activity. Activities that you might want to include when creating your marketing plan for 2012 are:

* Exhibitions, conferences and events
* Product Launch
* Promotional Items
* Print & Design
* Other areas could be: Public Relations, Media, Social Media, Database Management and Website.

Once the list is complete, fill in the projected marketing spend for these activities in the monthly columns in which the activity is expected to take place bearing in mind that this is not always when the activity is due for invoicing. At the end of each line calculate the total ‘Committed’ and ‘Invoiced’ for each activity. At the bottom of the sheet calculate the total ‘Committed’ and ‘Invoiced’.

Having all your plans for the year in one place means working smarter and more efficiently. If you know you have a golf day planned in May, a trade show in September and a sales conference in November, you can plan your promotional merchandise, PR, design and print requirements well in advance without any last minute panic, which can often drive up the costs.

Throughout the year, it is a great idea to monitor and update the sheet, taking care to move any ‘Committed’ values to the ‘Invoiced’ column as soon as these activities have been invoiced. Of course, even the best laid plans change or may require a little tweaking, especially in the event of budget cuts or changes to the overall business strategy. However, having a plan to hand will make it easier to incorporate these changes into your marketing strategy.

As we have shown, creating a marketing plan for 2012 need not be a daunting prospect and if done correctly it can be something you can keep effective control on throughout the year.