How to Create a Marketing Roadmap for Business Success

Note: This blog was first written for 2021, using 2020 information. It’s equally relevant for your 2024 marketing efforts and planning process. Dig in!

A marketing roadmap can be useful in your annual planning process. Done right, it becomes your treasure map to identify the best marketing initiatives to meet your business goals. Your roadmap will lay out your marketing initiatives by quarter, and help you understand what to do, the right timing, and how everything fits together. We rely on them here at Liquid Spark, for our own agency marketing—as well as for our clients. In this article, we share our best tips for process and content to help you create your own effective roadmap to guide your business success. At the end, we have an awesome bonus of our detailed planning worksheets that we use to take our quarterly roadmaps and convert them into monthly and weekly marketing action plans.

There are five steps in creating a strong quarterly marketing roadmap:

  1. Define the Right Business Goals
  2. Map Your Business Goals & Timing to Marketing Initiatives
  3. Connect Your Sales Funnel to Your Roadmap
  4. Assess Your Customer Experience Journey
  5. Add or Refine Measurement Metrics

To help show you how we approach building effective roadmaps, we’ll use the example of an imaginary adventure tourism business, our Louisiana Bayou Eco Lodge. This small, family-friendly, rustic eco-lodge likely has at least a few things in common with many adventure tourism businesses that have struggled through the unprecedented circumstances of 2020.

Here is the key marketing information about this eco-lodge. List your own information for your business, and be candid about where you have opportunities for improvement and where you are hitting home runs now.

Louisiana Bayou Eco Lodge Example

This image is of Maison Madeleine but fit our vision perfectly.

Key Background Information: 

  • Enjoys passionate following by long-time, loyal customers.
  • New generations have no idea the eco lodge exists.
  • Pandemic + hurricane damage caused 2020 total shutdown.
  • Planning grand reopening in July 1, 2021.
  • Website is workable, needs targeted improvements.
  • Weak organic rankings for relevant keyword topics.
  • No email list or use of email marketing.
  • Limited social media organic reach: < 5,000 on FB and <1,000 on IG.
  • Has good quality photography and limited video footage.
  • Has strong press relationships.

The challenge for this eco lodge is not just to create a great marketing roadmap for its next season. This forward-thinking adventure tourism company knows it can’t just keep doing the same old thing, for the same small customer base.

So the eco lodge wants (and needs!) to:

  • Reinvent itself with new positioning to attract a larger customer audience.
  • Develop new products for that audience.
  • Renovate/rebuild severely damaged lodge infrastructure thanks to several Gulf of Mexico hurricanes.

The lodge business team was totally overwhelmed, until they were introduced to this 5 step marketing roadmap process.

Step 1: Define Your Business Goals

Clear business goals will make or break your marketing success.

Getting super clear on what your business goals are for the next season is absolutely key. Being clear makes everything else downstream so much easier. During your annual planning period, you may have a lot of different business goals, and that’s fine. Your roadmap needs to reflect those goals that will, if achieved, make you feel like your upcoming season was a roaring success.

Types of Business Goals: Process and Sales (and Service & Sustainability)

The most useful roadmaps will include both process and sales goals. For the most part, service and sustainability can be thought of within either process or sales.

Here are examples of each type of goal for our Louisiana eco-lodge:

These goals are created from the lodge’s key business information that I shared at the beginning of this article. Note how they address various needs/issues the eco-lodge has.

Sales Goal Example:

    • Fill September specialty tours at 8 guests per program —targeting specific customer audiences.
      Of course, the later step is to drill down into each specialty tour and identify each different customer audience that we want to attract in 2021 to that tour.

Service Goal Example:

    • Run 5 Wounded Warrior Bayou Retreats
    • Fund 2 new Veteran Family Retreat Sponsorships for Fall 2021

Process Goal Example:

    • Improve marketing content quality and consistency across channels
    • Send 1 email newsletter/month – 2nd Tuesday of month
    • Publish 3 weekly social posts – across IG, FB, and GMB
    • Created 2 monthly videos – for use on website, YT, IG, FB, & PPC

Sustainability Goal Example:

    • Eliminate 100% of all single use plastic from the lodge.
    • Source 75% of all lodge foods from local farms and ranches
    • Add solar panels such that the lodge is 100% powered by solar, but is also on the grid for extra needs (and sells excess kWh back to the grid).

SMART Goals – with a Risky Twist

SMART goals are, well, smart. Without them, you can be shooting in the dark.

S: Smart
M: Measurable
A: Actionable
R: Realistic / Risky
T: Time-based

Most of us have heard this time-honored acronym. I am adding a twist here, learned from an astute entrepreneur in a mastermind program in which I participate,  to the “R” – Risky. Setting a realistic goal is important, but don’t make it so realistic that it’s too easy to attain. Adding stretch to your goals is very rewarding, exciting, and yes – risky.

Remember the sage advice?
“Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars.” – Norman Vincent Peale

Our Bayou eco-lodge has 2 examples to help you see the difference between strong and weak SMART goals.

Strong SMART goals are very very specific. And very clear.

    • Sell out 25 rooms in the opening week of July 2021.
    • Target mix of 55% return / 45% new customers for 2021 season.

Weak SMART goals are not specific, and/or not clear.

    • Increase lodge visits. [How do we decide what to do to impact such a general goal?]
    • Increase website traffic 20%. [Remember, not all website traffic is created equal!]

Step 2: Map Your Business Goals to Marketing Ideas & Add Timing

This is the fun part! What kinds of marketing initiatives could help you achieve your business goals? Create a very big list, and don’t cull it down till you have a lot of ideas, all supporting the various business goals you identified in step one.

As you think about these ideas, consider what the ideal timing is in order for them to best support your business. Think through what needs to happen, and in what order, to be able to launch your marketing campaigns. It might be one of the factors that helps you cull your list of initiatives down, actually.

Make sure that you put your initiatives into your roadmap according to the quarterly timing. This example reflects the iterative process and you will see that some of the goals need to be further defined:

Step 3. Connect Your Sales Funnel to Your Roadmap

So far, you have identified strong SMART business goals for your upcoming season and have mapped each of those goals to 1 or more marketing initiatives. Now it’s time to understand what content you have already that you can use or update to meet for use in your new marketing campaigns.

The way to do this is to critically review your existing sales funnel across your digital channels. This is your sales funnel from your business viewpoint. From your customers’ viewpoint, this is their customer experience journey. It is what they can “experience” as they travel through your digital marketing channels and learn about your adventure tourism offerings.

Let’s dig in!

customer journey

The traditional sales funnel has awareness building and prospecting at the top of the funnel, followed by educating and engaging visitors with useful information in the middle of the funnel. The bottom of the funnel contains those steps that will help your visitor to make a final booking decision. Each marketing initiative in your roadmap should address an information level in your sales funnel.


Step 4. Assess Your Customer Experience Journey & Add to Your Roadmap

Use our handy process worksheet Mapping Your Customer Experience Journey to uncover what current content you have at each level of your sales funnel/customer experience journey. As important, use this exercise to find the gaps of what content is missing for your customers and prospects.

Next, assess the content you have mapped in your worksheet against your roadmap’s new marketing initiatives.

Questions to Help Assess Your Content

  1. What exists that you can leverage?
  2. What’s missing?
  3. What needs to be created?
  4. Who can develop missing content?
  5. When should content be ready?

Then map the results to your roadmap, by quarter. Here is an example of what that looks like for our Louisiana Eco-Lodge.

Step 5: How Will You Measure Your Success?

Identify possible metrics for each initiative on your quarterly roadmap if you haven’t already been doing it as you go along. See our example for the eco-lodge. This is a really important step. Be very clear on what you will measure. Then you can celebrate each win and/or adjust in real-time as the season progresses!

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” -Peter Drucker 

BONUS: Detailed Actions Plan Worksheets

Getting the quarterly roadmap done is a critical first step in your marketing strategy and planning. Success will rest on your ability to implement your initiatives at the monthly and weekly level. We have developed worksheets that we use here at Liquid spark, for our agency marketing and for our clients’ marketing, that will make this next leap much easier for you.

Worksheets Include:

Strategy & Tactics Master Calendar
Organize your efforts all in one place by month, fed from your quarterly roadmap.

Email Marketing Calendar
Match your roadmap initiatives to your email marketing calendar and support your marketing year-round.

Social Media Organic Posting Calendar
Easily map out your monthly efforts and share your content with other team members.

Social Media Ad Campaign Tracking
Plan and track your campaign efforts—from run dates, budgets, audiences, waterfall funnels, and more.

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