3 Steps to create your first strategic marketing roadmap (PDF)

A marketing roadmap helps communicate priorities, dependencies, and the impact “emergencies” have on everything else you have going on. But, roadmaps don’t have to be intimidating to create.

With Excel, a list of your current projects, and an afternoon, you can feel more confident to manage everything on your plate. It’s an easy way to start thinking strategy over tactics.

How do you create a strategic marketing roadmap?

Step 1: Create a new Excel document

Create four columns, one for each quarter of the year. You want to merge the cells for each quarter, with three columns below each quarter. This gives structure to your roadmap as each column represents a month and each grouping of three columns represents a quarter, with all four quarters representing a year.

Alternatively, if you don’t typically work in quarters, you could do 12 columns, one for each month. The goal is to structure your roadmap in a way that matches how you do business.

Note that you can also use Google Sheets or another similar program, such as Apple Numbers.

Step 2: List each item on your list, giving it an approximate timeframe

No matter how big or small the project is, create general timeframes for each project. Remember, each column is a month. So if a project will take two months, it should span those two months on your roadmap.

The biggest mistake marketing teams make is trying to plan too much detail in the roadmap. Don’t get too granular, as the details can prevent you from creating and adhering to your roadmap.

Keep it simple with just the name of each project and how many months it will take to get it done.

Step 3: Add color coding to track progress

This will vary greatly on the size and complexity of your company, but I have found that most teams in medium to large size companies benefit from showing:

  • Green (Accepted): Ready for development and accepted by whomever is building the digital product
  • Blue (Marketing Approved): The requirements have been approved by marketing leadership
  • Orange (Active Discovery): Requirements are still be finalized, but they are actively being worked on by either marketing, IT, or a vendor partner
  • Red (Accepted Discovery): The team has decided to schedule work, but it has not been started yet
  • Gray (Unplanned): An item on the roadmap that as been identified as an item to work on, but it has not been scheduled

You might also enjoy