This article originally appeared on the Prime Design Solutions website.

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The beginning of the year is the ideal time to look ahead and set up a plan for the entire year’s marketing efforts. This plan will do more than help you estimate your budget for various promotional campaigns. Creating an annual marketing plan helps you see how you can schedule your initiatives to keep a constant and consistent message in front of your customers.

An annual marketing plan is similar to, but separate from, your company’s business plan. While your business plan may identify niche markets you plan to target, your marketing plan will define the means in which you will reach that business sector or customer type. Creating this document helps you define the way your company’s message is delivered throughout the year. By committing your plan to paper you are forcing yourself to thoroughly analyze your promotional efforts as a whole, making it much more likely that you will maximize the results of your advertising campaigns.

Your annual plan should contain the following information:

  • A schedule of campaigns, including dates for launch, follow up and estimated action by the recipient
  • Definition of targeted campaign audience
  • Quantifiable campaign goals
  • Selection of distribution method (direct mail, online, broadcast, etc.)
  • Keys to project success
  • Estimated project costs in both time and money
  • Projected return on investment

When planning your year, fight the urge to simply select various mediums to which you can then assign a date and a dollar figure. Instead, focus on creating clear objectives for your efforts which can then define the avenue you will use to reach your goal.