New Year’s resolution: optimise the marketing plan
By Lowry Brescia, Cantor & Webb P.A.
The end of one year and the start of the next is the perfect opportunity for companies both big and small to ask themselves what they can be doing better in terms of their marketing efforts. Did all their efforts reinforce one another? Were they achieved? How can they be improved for the coming year? While often dismissed as being trivial, if prepared properly, marketing plans can synthesise and answer all these questions.
By following the right steps, a marketing plan can leverage a company’s existing resources to improve its entire communication potential, within and outside the business. Even before putting pen to paper, the very intention of building a plan can spark productive thought and collaborative dialogue.
Writing a strong plan stimulates two-way communication, which ultimately facilitates the implementation of new ideas in the long run. This two-way communication, which Boris Groysberg and Michael Slind call “Organisational Communication” in their book “Talk, Inc.”, promotes a consistently aligned vision of strategies. This alignment, which is a positive side-effect of building a plan, is critical to an integrated marketing vision.
Communication starts with preparing the marketing plan, develops with the writing of the plan and continues even after the delivery of the plan. In his book “Breakthrough Marketing Plans”, Kellogg School of Management professor Tim Calkins outlines the necessary steps for successfully managing each of these phases of the marketing plan.
The first step in preparing a marketing plan is to recruit team members from as wide a range of departments as possible. Looking outside the marketing department will not only ensure a dynamic and cross-functional team, but will also guarantee long-term support. According to “The IKEA Effect: When Labor Leads to Love”, putting work into a project – whether a table or marketing plan – increases the perceived value of the product in the eyes of the creator.
Calkins suggests structuring the plan around three goals, which should be supported by strategic initiatives, which in turn should be implemented through specific tactics. The goals or objectives are what the business is trying to achieve through the marketing plan. Good objectives should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific. It is typically recommended to have one financial goal and two business goals. An example of a good financial goal would be to cut 10% of costs by December 2014. An example of a business goal would be to improve customer loyalty.
The strategic initiatives are what the business will do to achieve the established goals. They should be clear, measurable and action-oriented. An example of a strategic initiative relevant to improving customer loyalty would be to address service complaints and improve customer relations. The tactics are the specific programs the business will implement to support the strategic initiatives. A good corresponding tactic would therefore be to implement a loyalty card programme. It is important to choose goals, strategic initiatives and tactics that can be reasonably attained within the next year and that are consistent with the current positioning. The goals should aim to enhance the existing positioning of the company; in other words, it should complement its unique selling points. While the plan is only for the next year, putting it together encourages thinking about the core values and company purpose – a process which helps mould the vision for the company going forward.
In order to confirm that the three elements build upon each other, it is worth summarising them into a flow chart, such as the one below. Not only will this layout serve as a verification to secure seamlessness and avoid redundancy, but it will also force focus on only the most attention-deserving objectives.
Calkins, Tim. “A Marketing Plan for Turbulent Times”, Ivy Business Journal.
When presenting the plan, taking a few precautions can promote better resonance. Above all, the audience’s preference should be taken into consideration. Does the audience prefer a one-on-one discussion, a verbal PowerPoint presentation or an interactive prop and white-board presentation? It is also advisable to ensure the listener’s full attention by getting to the point as quickly as possible. Regardless of the chosen delivery style, finding the plan’s inner narrative and organising its contents like a story could appeal to audience sensitivity, while ensuring a logical flow. However, for those audience members who possess a more scientific mind, hard data should be presented in support of each argument, at least some of which should be recalled from memory and attribute to an authoritative source. Logistically-speaking, setting up the right number of chairs, functioning equipment and proper lighting ahead of time also prevents inconvenient technical difficulties.
Finally, be sure to review and possibly revise the plan regularly. Instead of fearing criticism, encourage it, as constructive feedback means an investment of interest on behalf of the reader. By inviting everyone’s participation throughout the preparation and writing phases, the plan will be welcomed more smoothly during the implementation phase, since it will reflect the voice of all were involved in its creation. Once the plan does resonate with everyone in the company, the marketing plan will serve as a battle plan for conquering the struggles of the year to come.
Lowry Brescia, Director
Cantor & Webb P.A., Miami, FL, United States
T: +1 305 374 38 86
Lowry Brescia is the Director of Public Relations and Client Services at Cantor & Webb P.A. She is responsible for the development and implementation of all public relations, marketing and business development initiatives, the management of special client projects, as well as the management of strategic relationships with various major global networks, such as GGI.
Referenced works: Calkins, Tim. Breakthrough Marketing Plans: How to Stop Wasting Time and Start Driving Growth, 2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2012.
Cantor & Webb P.A. is a Miami, Florida based law firm focused on the representation of ultra high net worth international private clients in the areas of cross border tax and estate planning, United States tax compliance services, family office advisory services, and cross-border real estate transactions.
published: March 2014