The truth about marketing is that urgent situations requiring quick thinking are, at times, unavoidable. Whether it’s a PR crisis or an egregious error that everyone missed after something went live—the ability to react effectively is a must-have.

But another truth about marketing is that the more proactive you are, the less common these situations will become. Planning is essential, and will help limit those times when you feel like you’re flying by the seat of your pants.

Utilize the following tactics and benefit from doing a little thing I like to call forward thinking.

Get organized

And I mean more than just your desktop. If you’re kicking off marketing tactics for a new client or even a long-standing one, the more organized you are in your approach, the better.

Create strategic planning documents that outline the different goals you’ve set for each of your tactics, determine which team members will be responsible for what, and outline the different processes you’ve set up. This way, you’ll have something tangible to work toward, and there will be accountability for the responsibilities of each team member.

Other helpful organizational documents include:

– Budgeting Spreadsheets

– Marketing Templates

– Productivity apps, like Evernote

– Editorial Calendars

Tip: HubSpot allows you to upload this into an interactive tool that helps you schedule future content output.

Understand your customers

Pretty straightforward, but surprisingly easy for marketers to overlook. The more time and effort put into understanding your audience, the stronger their feedback will be.

Proactive marketing means anticipating the needs of both your customers and potential customers. This allows you to deliver the right content to them at the right place and time. A tool that helps outline this for you from the get-go? Personas. You can develop these from a high-level standpoint based off of your own research, or get into the more nitty-gritty aspect of them through workshops and interviews with current or past customers.

Whichever route you take, personalizing your marketing efforts through in-depth audience research is a great way to address future needs and problems that may arise down the road.

Tip: Use this helpful persona template as you start the process.

Test what works (and what doesn’t)

Any marketing plan requires tweaking and adjustment over time. You may create what you think is an efficient, foolproof plan for the year – but one month in, realize something isn’t clicking with your audience. A great way to diagnose the problem? Testing!

A/B testing goes beyond just emails. You can A/B test different landing pages, pieces of content, banner advertisements, and more. Determining the types of messaging, UX, or design that appeals most to your customers will help you adjust those aforementioned planning documents.

Tip: Download this free introduction to A/B testing.

Now what?

In marketing, there will always be situations that arise where you’ll have to drop everything and solve an issue ASAP. But the more you plan ahead, the more likely you’ll be able to carry out a successful, well-established marketing plan.

Take these tools and start planning today.