As we approach the second half of 2017, have you thought about reviewing your marketing plan? Even if the company is achieving its goals, it’s still a good practice to assess, evaluate and make course corrections. On the other hand, if your marketing projects are falling through the cracks and causing the company to miss performance benchmarks, there’s no question about it… it’s time to go back to the drawing board.
Let’s start at the beginning. First, do you have a marketing plan at all? Some might think this is a silly question, but we talk to business professionals every day who want to promote their company’s products or services but don’t have a marketing plan. Without a written plan, companies fall prey to trial and error or end-to-end marketing. In other words, they engage in tactics without a strategy. When promotional campaigns are not implemented within the context of an overall plan, it’s likely that they will not accurately address customer-centric messaging, ideal frequency of contact and the use of the most effective marketing channels. Not surprisingly, this leads to disappointing results that don’t meet revenue goals.
Second, if the company has a plan, does it sit on the shelf, or is someone actually responsible for implementing the plan? With the former, it’s just as damaging as not having a plan at all. If, on the other hand, someone has ownership of the plan, but the plan is not meeting performance expectations, the question is “why not?”
5 Marketing Plan Challenges
Here are several common challenges that might be keeping your plan from being as effective as possible.
- You are operating without a plan. Without a plan to chart and guide the promotion of your business, the result is uncoordinated strategies, ineffective initiatives and failure to achieve critical business objectives. The good news is that it’s never too late to create a marketing plan. The plan doesn’t have to be complex. In fact, shorter plans are easier to follow and implement. However, it should some essential components: company vision and mission, corporate distinction, quantifiable goals, defined strategies, tactics that support the strategies, methods for implementation and tracking.
- There’s no established methodology for monitoring plan performance. To correct the problem, create a monthly status report and distribute it. Then schedule a meeting with the marketing team to review progress toward goals. This will keep everyone on the same page and will provide an opportunity to celebrate the victories and address shortcomings.
- There’s no indication of who is responsible for what. In this case, sometimes assumptions are inaccurate. As a result, misunderstandings evolve and team members might be working at cross purposes. The solution is to make sure the plan includes clear assignment of responsibilities and due dates for completion.
- There’s not enough staff to implement the plan. When staff shortages exist, due to expected or unexpected leaves of absence, whether they are temporary or permanent, the marketing team can go on overload. If the company is growing rapidly and the marketing department is stretched too thin, projects can stall. Similarly, if there are competing priorities or other company or marketplace changes take place, the pressure and unrealistic expectations of the marketing team become magnified. A good alternative comes from adjusting priorities and asking for help from others, either internally or through the use of external sources.
- There’s insufficient (or no) budget for plan implementation. This is one of the most grievous errors companies make, especially small ones. Yet, it is unrealistic and demoralizing to expect the marketing team to deliver results without sufficient funds. Some companies set an annual marketing budget, and marketing plans are developed with that number in mind. Other companies use a percentage of revenue or profit as the method for allocating budget to the marketing plan. In either case, it is important to know what financial resources are available for marketing. Then, with that knowledge, review marketing expenditures at the end of every quarter and make adjustments as necessary.
Marketing Plan Review
Taking a look back at your marketing plan for the year is the first step in making the remainder of the year a success. It’s important to know what’s working and what needs to be changed as you move forward. This is good time to refresh your content, ensure alignment between the sales and marketing departments, evaluate progress and, most importantly, make an action plan for the second half of the year. Even in this time of marketing automation, no good marketing plan operates with a “set it and forget it” approach. Success comes from strategic planning, regular check-ins, as-needed adjustments and communication throughout the organization.