There is no question that marketing planning has become a lot harder over the years.
For one, digital media, including social have added a whole new layer of complexity but many business now also work in more diverse markets. Physical distance is no longer the constraint it was (or was perceived to be). Local operations are now national, and national brands think and operate internationally.
The hardest part of business and marketing strategy has always been choosing what NOT to do (as Micheal E Porter famously stated), and that’s even more critical now. It’s not made easier by the fact that from the outside, it’s hard to see the effort required in a lot of the work marketers do. Why don’t we do this and that, AND that? It can’t be that hard, after all.
The hard conversation
The best marketing plans start with a hard conversation. With your CEO, Sales Director (or with yourself if you’re all of the above.) Before you start thinking of WHAT and HOW you’re going to do all this marketing stuff, spend some time on clarifying the business and sales goals. If you are lucky, these goals are written down somewhere, but often they’re not. So the ONE thing to do, is have the hard conversation.
- Make sure you’re absolutely clear on what the specific outcomes are the business required, and by when.
- Make sure you understand the priority order of these goals
- Write them down, and get sign off before you start any marketing planning
It will be the hardest (and maybe most uncomfortable) part of writing your marketing plan, but it’s your foundation. If you nail this, making those choices becomes much easier, you’ll spend half the time on your plan, and you’re behaving like a marketing leader, not a manager.