Having a clear marketing strategy will help you to build a competitive advantage over your competition. It will provide you with direction and define the marketing activity required to execute your strategy. With a clear plan and focus, you will receive a greater return from your marketing expenditure.
It’s the combination of smart marketing strategy and successful execution that is the key to a great marketing planning process. Yes, a process. I’ve seen many planning processes of different shapes in companies:
- Brainstorming sessions that result in an action plan
- Quick objective setting
- Slow objective setting with disruptions and distractions that pull focus away from the initial objectives
- Meetings focussed on current or ad-hoc issues that the company is faced with
Mostly, I’ve seen management focussed on short-term goals, or the most financially significant issues getting all of the attention. Of course there are other factors that can affect the success of the planning process as well:
- internal awareness of the plan
- engagement from resources during plan implementation
- office politics
- business friendships
All of these factors add up to one thing… ineffective planning processes and plans that don’t deliver results. I’ve certainly created ineffective marketing plans, the type that are created and forgotten. And I have had plans that fail. It’s all part of the path to successful planning… learning from mistakes, acknowledging what did not work, filling the gaps, making changes, refining and pressing forward, until your planning is effective.
Companies that have managed to create an effective strategic marketing planning process are able to remain focused on delivering value to customers and gaining market share, while also moving toward defined business goals. It is this ability to balance strategy and execution that gives delivers an advantage.
So what do successful organizations do differently in their planning process? Here are ten common traits of organisations doing successful planning. I’ve compiled this list based on experience and wisdom from industry leaders.
10 Common Traits:
- They know planning as an ongoing activity and not an annual process
- They use a system for implementing their strategy
- They understand that plan execution happens at the day-by-day task level, so they set KPI’s, monitor performance and offer support
- They reduce risk in the execution stage with clear language, making sure all involved understand their part.
- They create plans that use customer insight, with outcomes that provide a customer-centred perspective
- They create plans that are aligned with and designed around the organisation’s core competencies, culture and structure
- Their planning process facilitates company-wide communication, up and down.
- They set budgets, priorities and allocate necessary accountable resources to execute the plan
- Their plans provide clarity and steps to achieve outcomes, communicated broadly throughout the organization
- Their planning approach provides repeatable, predictable, measurable results
Marketing planning is difficult today, with so many new methods of marketing and activities that pull on the demands of available marketing resources. Traditional offline marketing must work together with the new online marketing methods. Where do you focus your efforts? Does your marketing planning process deliver the results you desire or is your planning the victim of lack of time or resource? If your marketing planning is lacking the direction it needs, take time to find it.