Marketing plans are like stir fry. If you toss everything in a wok, set your burner to high, and then walk away, you’ll end up with burnt food.

But a lot of people treat marketing plans like this. They’d like to think all they have to do is throw the ingredients in, add water, and press a button.

This could be the most disastrous thing you could do to your marketing efforts. You’re likely to lose sight of your goals and end up in the weeds.

Instead, you need to treat your marketing plan like a living document. Something like the Constitution of the United States of America. It should be flexible and continually present for guidance.

But how do you keep your marketing plan fresh? How can you keep it ever-present for both yourself and your team?

Read on to get the answers you’re looking for.

1. Write Your Marketing Plan On Your Forehead

Ok. You probably don’t want to literally write it on your forehead.

But ancient literature used the images of writing something on your forehead or on the back of your hand as a metaphor for never forgetting.

You aren’t likely to memorize your marketing plan verbatim. But, if you’re like most small businesses, you might forget your marketing plan amid everything else you’re doing.

You may not even have a dedicated marketing team. Your team might know a thing or two about marketing, but maybe nobody is specifically in charge of marketing.

That’s ok. But you should still hold marketing meetings regularly to keep your plan on track and make sure someone on your team is making efforts toward your goals.

Forgetting your marketing plan is akin to forgetting where you were heading on a road trip. You might end up in the middle of nowhere where the hills have eyes…no bueno.

2. Don’t Write Your Marketing Plan On Tablets of Stone

Stone is a pretty good medium if you want something permanent. But your marketing plan isn’t permanent.

Marketing plans should be as alive and ever-changing as the seasons. Why? Because the marketing scene changes every day.

And it’s absolutely possible to keep up with your marketing goals daily. Analytics software can run in real time making marketing management simple.

If you see that your goals aren’t being met, simply change your methods. If you find that your goals are unrealistic, you can dial them back at any time.

Micro adjustments might be needed on a weekly basis until you hit your stride. But it’s completely possible to keep adjusting your plan according to the data.

Remember, hindsight is always 20/20. And while most people only remember this in hindsight, it’s best to keep in mind continually. Always look back before looking forward.

3. Write Your Plan Like A Roadmap, Not a List Or a Novel

If you want to make sure your plan stays fresh and malleable, do not write a whole novel about it. Or even make a list.

These things, like the massive tombs that contain them, gather dust and encourage stale behavior.

Instead, work out a timeline or a road map to success. Give your plan visual space. And like a road trip, you can stop off along the way or reroute when you want.

If you write out all the strategic steps or thinking, you’ll likely go into task mode.

Task mode is another name for tunnel vision. If you’re solely focused on “getting it done” you lose sight of the big picture while honing in on your originally perceived target.

You’ll be so driven to hit your goals and check things off from your list that you’ll forget to stop and look around at all the blooming data.

One other problem with a prose-heavy plan or a long list: nobody will read the thing. Who has time for that? Do you?

This ties into point one: if you want to keep the plan continually in your mind, don’t make it cumbersome.

It should be easy to remember and not so complex that you don’t know where to start if you wanted to change it.

If you make it too complex or too hard to remember, what happens when you send it to your team to review or you ask them to implement specific sections?

Don’t waste your team’s valuable time. They’re not going to appreciate it and it will slow your team’s progress in other areas.

Instead, keep it simple and trust your team to fill in the blanks. And besides, questions should always be allowed. Your team should be comfortable asking about the document and even poking holes in your plan.

4. Social Media Demands Flexibility

If you think social media marketing is the same as it was ten years ago, you must have a pretty short memory. The social media landscape doesn’t look at all like it did a decade ago.

In fact, what started out as an industry of two companies (Facebook and LinkedIn) has grown to a battlefield with a dozen armies vying for space. And social media changes every day.

So, how do you expect a static marketing plan to keep up with a social media campaign? I’ll tell you: you shouldn’t expect it to keep up with it. It just can’t.

If you’re doing PPC, you might end up paying for nothing if you’re not paying attention and modifying your plan. You might also end up with an audience that doesn’t care or an audience that’s even fake, resulting in zero outcomes.

The lesson here is simple. Don’t.

Don’t make your plan a novel. Don’t set it and forget it. And don’t set it in stone.

Are you working on a marketing plan right now? Have you seen success? How about failure? I’d like to hear from you in the comments below.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.