CalendarIf this cry for help sounds familiar, don’t panic. There’s no time like the present to set your course.

Follow these five steps to expedite your marketing roadmap:

1. Start small

There’s no minimum timeframe for planning. What’s important is defining activities that will help the organization achieve its objectives. Tackle the next six weeks or 90 days and work your way up to a six- or 12-month plan.

2. Prioritize

The marketing wish list will always exceed available resources, so be realistic. Focus your plan on your top three channels, products or organizational objectives and how to support them. Sort potential activities into categories: Required, Desired and Nice. Execute programs in the same order.

3. Delegate

It’s marketing’s job to support organizational goals—not to create them. Ask leadership to share their objectives. Use sales targets, revenue plans and product business plans for guidance. This information gathering will speed your timeline and engage the team.

4. Dedicate time

Like oil and water, strategic thinking and day-to-day marketing tasks don’t mix. Schedule 60-minute blocks of uninterrupted time to draft your plan: no email, no phones, no meetings. If you’re in a high-traffic area, work in a conference room. Make a checklist of items you need to complete, and set a reasonable goal for each work session.

5. Expect revisions

Every plan is a working document, one you will likely adapt as market conditions or business priorities change. When this happens, be flexible, involve others and use the plan as a communications tool. Add or change activities with the same Required-Desired-Nice categories used to develop the plan.

As with any skill, the more you plan, the more proficient you’ll become. And, even a small plan trumps a reactive, ad hoc approach.

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