Throw Away Your Annual Marketing Plan

Thu Apr 5, 2018

Last week I attended FutureM and had the pleasure of seeing some tremendous presentations.  While this was a conference focused heavily on technology, the message that I heard repeated time and time again was that marketing needs to learn to be agile. Because of technology, the idea of an Annual Marketing Plan is going by the wayside. Instead, organizations need to adapt to the rapid pace of change, and be ready to respond as new technology and trends emerge.

Don't Just Put a Bird On It

One impact of this change is that organizations are struggling to maintain a marketing strategy. My favorite quote of the event was from Jen Lowe (@datatelling) from Columbia University during the session Creativity in a Big Data World. She said that she sees a lot of people who “just want to put a Twitter on it.”


Similarly, many marketing organizations’ approach to emerging marketing trends is to “put a Twitter on it”, “put an infographic on it”, or “put a Facebook on it”.  Effort is spent reacting to trends without thought to how they can truly help drive the business. This results in infographics that provide no valuable data, Facebook pages that don’t engage or drive calls to action, and twitter accounts with few followers.

Technology Alone Still Not the Answer

At a conference such as FutureM, obviously so much of the focus is upon technology. Whether it’s a discussion about programmatic advertising purchases or the impact of Google Glass, many of us are frankly reeling with the possibilities that technology bring. But the best speakers at FutureM spoke about how technology provides us the opportunity to reassess our strategy, requires us to rethink how we work together, and allows us to connect better with our customers.  

Strategy is the key. As Marketers, we first need to ask ourselves, who are we trying to reach and what do we want to say. From there, we can look at emerging technologies as a way to do something we previously couldn’t.  

Fear Looks Backward, Agility Looks Forward

Of course, the flip side is the pressure we feel not to be left behind. Who wants to be last person on the block to have a mobile-friendly site or to have our products look good when they show up on Pinterest? That fear drives the “put a twitter on it” approach.

The overarching theme I heard at FutureM is that marketing will need to be nimble in a way they’ve never had to before. Instead of the Annual Marketing Plan, we’re seeing the advent of “plan frameworks” that provides Marketing the ability to reassess activity on the fly while keeping strategic objectives in mind. I’ve seen the future, and the future is agile.

Dan Flanagan Headshot
Dan Flanigan
Vice President of Products | Percussion Software

Dan is a product management specialist with over 15 years of experience building new enterprise products and launching them successfully to market. He has extensive customer and sales facing experience, outlining product solutions that have been successful for customers from 300 to 300,000 employees. Well over 3 million users are using products he has launched. In his spare time, Dan spends his disposable income on Apple products and dreams of seeing his name in TechCrunch.