You’re probably frantically trying to put together your marketing plan for 2013. Maybe you already did it, and now you’re wondering if you need to change a few things.

Welcome to the Brave New World of Marketing, in which the old line from Good to Great has never been more true – planning is essential, and planning is useless.

Good luck creating a budget with this new reality. How are you supposed to predict how and where you’ll spend your money when the only thing you can be sure of is that everything will be different by the Fourth of July? On top of that, there’s pressure from above to reduce spending AND prove ROI, a conversation most marketers are ill-equipped to have.

If you’re an old school Marketing Director focused on what you think is “great creative” and have never really understood how it ties into the sales process, good luck to you. If you’re one of those folks who thinks “sales just doesn’t understand what we do,” well then, you’re doomed. The era epitomized by John Wanamaker’s famous line “I know half of my advertising works; I just don’t know which half” are over.

Because now you really can track marketing through to the sale. And you need to build your marketing plan accordingly.

So what should you keep and what should you drop? The reality is that you need to do everything. Dropping the financial commitments to old school tactics like advertising and PR makes sense, but you can’t get rid of them all together. It’s about fitting all these activities together in a fluid mosaic that reads and reacts to what’s working.

Here are the activities you must undertake in 2013 (and there are probably a few new strategies that will emerge during the course of the year):

  • Content Marketing – Content marketing is not going away. It’s much more substantive than social media or SEO; in fact, it’s the foundation for both of those important aspects of your marketing mix, so you’d better figure out how you’re going to get it done. Creating a strategy is the easy part; executing is difficult. Will you have internal resources take write and produce content? Will you outsource content creation?
  • Inbound Marketing – This is the future. Oh wait, it’s the present. The inbound marketing concept acknowledges the reality of the way customers purchase goods and services today – this is an era of preference marketing, in which customers have far more control than they’ve ever had before.
  • Social Media – Doing this well is very time intensive. I advise clients to run this internally, unless you can find a good flat fee solution. Do not pay an hourly fee for social media; you’ll look up and you’ll be spending $20K a month for a Twitter feed. Yikes.
  • Public Relations – You still have to invest in PR, but the media courted by PR firms is obviously less powerful than ever before. This is a place to spend less.
  • Advertising – If you advertise it makes sense to continue to do so, but it should be scrutinized closely. (I’d reduce the budget.) Most people have trained themselves to ignore ads, but they can still be a good brand-building tactic. However, there’s virtually no way to tie ads to bottom line sales.
  • Direct Mail/Email – These old school tactics are having a resurgence because both DM and email are an accepted way to push your message out to prospects. I’ve bundled them together because a lot of Direct mail firms are helping their clients to create breakthrough email campaigns.
  • SEO – Very important, but don’t spend a lot of money on this. If you can, do it yourself by creating great content and manually searching out opportunities for links. SEO firms made a lot of money the last five years, but that day is done; it seems most of them don’t realize it. Thanks to search engine algorithm changes, 90 percent of SEO is now based on quality, shareable content.
  • Good ol’ fashioned face-to-face networking – As much as we get done online these days, deals get hammered out face-to-face. So keep some piece of your budget available for trade shows and networking events.