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Here’s what you need in your 5-year marketing plan

Opinions expressed by australiabusinessblog.com contributors are their own.

We’ve all heard the interview question, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” Marketers routinely take that question and apply it to their marketing strategies. They figure out what they want to achieve and then develop actionable steps to get there. Keep in mind that these plans are not designed to be all inclusive. They serve as a guide for different scenarios while getting the team thinking about what they want to achieve in the long run.

Your five-year plan is a way to build an overarching measure of how you’re doing — or how you plan to do over the next five years. There are many things to consider when creating your plan – here are a few to look closely at:

The 3 main buckets

A successful five-year marketing plan should focus on three main questions:

  1. What assumptions can you make about the next five years within your company?
  2. What goals do you want to achieve?
  3. What are the metrics you use to measure those goals?

Assumptions are those that you don’t think will change in the company for the next five years. For example, you can assume that you will continue to use certain suppliers or that packaging costs will remain stable. From there, you can set your goals, such as increasing sales by 50% or converting 10,000 new customers. The metrics that measure your progress can be units sold or your company’s market share. It’s essential to include easy-to-access metrics, such as website views, as well as brand metrics that might be a little harder to find, such as the associations your customers have with your products or company.

Importantly, there is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to answering these questions. Every company has its own vision, resources and position, all of which influence its marketing strategy. The goal is to develop a plan that will provide the most desired outcome youinstead of worrying about what other companies can do.

Related: Use These 5 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan

Narrowing your focus

Like consumer preferences, marketing tactics are constantly shifting. Social media shows this well. Because social media platforms have skyrocketed over the past two decades, marketers no longer rely solely on traditional platforms such as print or television advertising. And even within social media, things are not constant. TikTok is one of the fastest growing platforms, quickly overtaking Facebook.

With so many options, your marketing plan should keep a narrow focus. For some companies, TikTok doesn’t matter. They can’t yet measure the returns they’re getting from the platform, so this isn’t really a viable opportunity. Don’t be tempted to try everything or be everywhere. It’s a matter of isolating what you can practically use to give you the insights that will help you.

Two questions will help you focus your strategy:

  • How do your goals compare to last year?
  • What are you aiming for (e.g. strengthening the brand versus increasing brand awareness)?

How you answer these questions will help you determine where and how to focus your efforts so you don’t get lost in a bunch of petty, irrelevant tactics.

Using your budget

Most people think of budgets as stable or hard data, but almost all businesses work with unknown factors. In reality, the best they can do is come up with an educated guess that seems logical – a margin range. Because no one can plan with certainty for every scenario—and because it’s so easy to get overwhelmed by an infinite array of outcomes—it’s advisable to rely on a few key financial assumptions and build a strategy from there.

Once you have a budget figure to work with, create high and low projections for whatever you want to do. Let’s say the goal is to get to 50% brand awareness. What would your plan look like if you exceeded that and got to 75%? Alternatively, what would you do if awareness dropped to 25%? By creating these high and low projections, you can design a more flexible approach and avoid getting too caught off guard.

As you come up with your main scenarios and high-low projections, think about the key internal drivers you need to address next year. Consider the risks and assess whether you have the data, technology and skills to develop and maintain what you expect to deliver. Keep in mind that it is more important to pivot when problems arise than to accurately predict what will happen next.

Related: 4 tips for developing a marketing plan that will actually grow your business

Paint flexibly within your broad strokes

A five-year marketing plan paints a broad, long-term picture of how you’ll communicate with your audience as you provide details about your projected products or services. It contains assumptions and factors that aren’t necessarily static, so you should approach it with a grain of salt and be prepared to switch gears if the plan doesn’t work.

But if you stick to three key segments (assumptions, goals, and metrics), keep your tactical focus small, and factor multiple projections into your budget, you should end up with a strategy that combines the data and flexibility necessary to aim for a changing world. Because annual marketing plans should align with your long-term marketing vision, the annual marketing meetings should serve as check-in points to keep your longer-term marketing plan relevant and viable.


Shreya has been with australiabusinessblog.com for 3 years, writing copy for client websites, blog posts, EDMs and other mediums to engage readers and encourage action. By collaborating with clients, our SEO manager and the wider australiabusinessblog.com, Shreya seeks to understand an audience before creating memorable, persuasive copy.

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