Marketing teams at companies of all sizes are frazzled. And for good reason. There is a constant stream of "new" -- new channels to explore, new audiences to target, and new analytics tools to measure it all. 

It can feel easier to focus on the now. Marketing leaders can get myopic, focusing solely on how to generate sales in the next day, week, or month. In fact, according to a 2018 report from Deloitte, the majority of senior marketers surveyed said that their main focus was on making sales in the short-term -- not on building a lasting brand.

Because these teams are intent on achieving short-term gains, they end up being highly reactive. This can be chaotic -- constantly shifting priorities and racing to meet ever-changing deadlines. Their attention gets consumed by the day-to-day activities, leaving little time to consider the bigger picture. 

What these teams are crying out for is structure and strategy. This requires a framework to organize tactical work and prioritize it against larger marketing goals. So how do they get this? Of course, you need to have a clear strategy in the first place so you know where you want to go. But there is another helpful tool.

In my experience, it starts with a roadmap -- a common term for most product and technology teams, but it is newer to marketing teams. A marketing roadmap is a visualization of how marketing activities will meet business objectives. It keeps everyone focused on the strategy by showing the work required to achieve it.

You can make different types of marketing roadmaps depending on the information you want to convey to your target audience. For example, a strategy roadmap is useful for presenting a high-level view to leadership or board members, while an activities roadmap informs cross-functional stakeholders about the details of upcoming campaigns or product launches. 

No matter what type of marketing roadmap you create, here are five key components you should include: 

Goals 

Defining what you want to achieve lays the foundation for all your marketing efforts. Consider the overall business objectives as well as what the marketing team can do to support them. Goals should be both measurable and time-bound to ensure that your programs and campaigns stay on track. For example, you may want to triple your social media followers by the end of the year or increase visitor time on the website by three minutes.

Initiatives 

These are the key areas you will focus on to achieve the marketing goals. So if your goal is to increase blog followers, the initiative that links to it might be to launch a social campaign or introduce a new content program. Tying your goals and initiatives together helps you align the team around what is most important.

Schedules 

It takes a tremendous amount of coordination to deliver a new experience to customers. Whether you are launching a brand new product or initiating a new video campaign, you need a way to visualize what is happening and when. Schedules give the team an overview of the work that needs to be done across the different marketing functions -- and how the major programs and campaigns connect back to the strategy.

Activities 

Now it is time to get into the details. Activities are the specific work tasks that the team will do to make the programs and campaigns a reality. Depending on what you are marketing, your activities may encompass blog posts, digital ads, or media outreach. Assign dates to activities so that everyone knows what the timeline is.

Status 

Your roadmap should include status indicators for your goals, initiatives, schedules, and activities. Assign a color code for a status on your plans -- "not started," "in progress," "in review," "scheduled, and "completed" are a few common options. This helps the team quickly see how the work is progressing.

More and more marketing teams today are seeing the benefits of connecting the work to the strategy to drive the growth of the business. If you have not yet built out a marketing roadmap, I would encourage you to consider it. You will likely find that it will help eliminate the chaos and bring more purpose to the work -- freeing you up to think about how to build long-term value instead of chasing short-term gain.