By Lee Waterhouse from WDA Marketing Derby on Friar Gate – an award winning creative brand marketing agency. Lee is an experienced brand and marketing professional leading a team with the skills and experience to build, design and manage your brand – on and offline.

“As we head into the Christmas period businesses start to look forward to the new year; and with recent data pointing towards economic recovery, 2014 promises to be the first time lots of businesses have thought about growth in a long time. But will they be equipped with a marketing plan that will do the business? If they’re not – then you should be.

You probably have a marketing plan of sorts, which outlines marketing’s contribution to your broader business plan and objectives. For some the plan amounts to a schedule of isolated events committed to a promotional calendar, with each simply being a prompt for any preparations necessary in advance. Others have a more detailed strategy, but a weak tac4cal plan. You may be surprised how many business have nothing – we recently worked with a professional services client with billing in excess of £5m who had no plan at all.

An effective marketing plan will help maximise the return on your marketing investments by ensuring activities are fully exploited (with a ‘before, during and after’ strategy); and fully leveraged by ‘joining-up’ activities where possible – an approach at the heart of any successfully integrated campaign.

A proper plan should also take a lot of pressure off your marketing team, and help avoid fire-fighting, last minute panics and missed opportunities. Of course the plan needs to be flexible as things can change – if, for example, you need to react quickly to something a competitor is doing or to changes within your market place.

If you have a plan, when was the last time you received it? Is it really aligned with your current business objectives? As they say; ‘Do what you always did and you’ll get what you always got’ – maybe it’s time to do things differently.

If you feel its 4me for a fresh perspective talk to us. WDA has successfully delivered planning strategy for startups and large multinationals alike. Cathedral Quarter members can currently enjoy a free 1 hour consultation.