Archive for 2021

Strategic Planning Doesn’t Equal a Marketing Plan

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BY- LARA AUGUST, CEO AND FOUNDER OF ROBOT CREATIVE

I’m a huge fan of planning and planning systems. We currently use the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) for our strategic planning. We were a Scaling Up shop for a decade before we switched to EOS. I mentor and work with lots of Startups that use the Lean Canvas Model. Several clients work with other systems. As an Entrepreneur and Owner, I love all of this. I think having clearly defined goals, metrics and accountability is critical to running a business. As a Branding Expert and Marketer, I’m here to let you know that this strategic planning does not even come close to providing you with what you need to begin on a marketing plan (despite what your well-intentioned coach might be telling you).

What most strategic planning systems provide in terms of marketing:

  • Revenue and profitability targets
  • Product/service-specific shifts and goals
  • Key audience(s) or customer definition
  • Differentiators
  • Vision/Mission/Values

What a strategic plan is lacking when it comes to marketing:

  • Specific strategies and tactics to reach key audiences
  • Marketing/editorial calendar
  • Frequency recommendations
  • Advertising budgets
  • Marketing metrics (as leading indicators to revenue)

Additional things your marketing plan needs to include:

  • Evaluation of whether the budget will “get you there” or if your targets are even realistic
  • Consideration of industry benchmarks
  • Complex marketing programs require tools and technology
  • An implementation plan for how and when marketing passes off to sales (and probably more technology)
  • Regular review and adjustment

The strategic planning you do for your business every year should definitely be providing the high-level guidance needed to begin a marketing plan, but the marketing planning process can not begin in earnest until after that marketing strategy is completed and agreed upon by the leadership team.

If you don’t have a formal marketing plan and would like help to jumpstart the effort for 2022, we have a workshop coming up on January 6, 2022. For more information and to register, visit our newsroom.

I have also written about key stakeholders who should be included in the marketing planning process. It’s a wacky Halloween-themed blog.

Marketing Plan Horror Stories

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By- Lara August, CEO and Founder of Robot Creative

I have heard a ton of marketing plan horror stories in my 25+ years in this industry.

After all, what could possibly go wrong when you try to take historical information from multiple disparate systems? Combine that with industry research and the company’s forward-looking goals. Then, build that into a tactical plan using all the latest-greatest marketing platforms and methods. Don’t forget to establish a solid budget and tie your spending to predictable results. Of course, you will also need to collect feedback from both the sales team on the front end, and the customer service or implementation teams on the back end, to keep the plan continually evolving. Regular reporting and updates will be required to communicate results and roadblocks. Again, what could go wrong?

These horror stories range from mortifying to just plain silly, but across the board, they can be avoided by including key stakeholders in the planning process. Below you will find a list of people you should bring to the table while developing your marketing plan, along with what they bring to the table and what they will take away.

The horrors of excluding key stakeholders from your marketing planning meeting infographic

If you need help with a strategic marketing plan for your small or mid-size company, please contact us. We develop dozens of marketing plans every year across a variety of industries and also see them through to execution. We can help >>

Annual Marketing Planning Guide

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It’s Like a GPS for Your Annual Marketing Plan

There’s a lot that goes into creating a marketing plan for the year. You need to look at what you did last year. Evaluate if those things worked. Assess if your marketing and business goals are aligned.

Don’t worry. Even if the year has already started, it’s not too late to start a strategic marketing plan. Sometimes you just need a roadmap (or GPS) to get you there. We created a workbook to do just that.

Our Workbook Includes:

  • A roadmap to evaluate what you did this year
  • Steps to identify gaps in your current strategy
  • Activities to help you hone in on your key audience
  • Structure to help you successfully execute your new plan and stay on track

Download Now

Annual Planning Workbook Cover

How to Use the Workbook – Video Guide

The workbook is simple, but going through the process of finding the information you need to fill it out can be a challenge. That’s why our President and Director of Marketing, Lana Harris, walks you through the workbook step-by-step in this instructional video.

Lana has over 20 years experience in marketing and sales leadership and has worked with national, regional and local businesses. Her expertise and your dedication will get you started on a plan to success for the coming year.

You can also read through abbreviated steps below.

Step 1: Marketing Snapshot

This is where you identify how much time you really have within your work week to dedicate to your marketing planning and activities. If you have internal team members that assist you on that, add in their time and your time as well. The goal is to determine how much total time your team can devote to marketing your business.

Step 2: Annual Goals

Next, step back and think about your high-level business goals for the year. These are not your marketing goals. Think of what you want your business to accomplish. Your marketing activities should support these. Get as specific as you can about how you want to measure these and how you will consider them successful at the end of the year.

Step 3: Audience & Activity Brainstorm

Next is a brainstorm to think of marketing activities to accomplish your goals.

  1. Fill in the product or service line at the top of the page. You can print off several of these and have one for each product or service you want to promote.
  2. List all the different audience groups that you want to buy or be interested in that product or service. There can be more than one audience, but each audience is specific. “Everyone” is not a targeted audience.
  3. Jot down three marketing tactics to reach each audience. (example: social ads, email newsletters, advertising in a trade magazine, etc.)
  4. Put a star next to the activities you definitely want to do next year.

Step 4: Schedule Your Activities

Transfer those starred activities to the next page, the activity schedule, then fill out the rest.

  1. Fill in a date next to the activity name of when the activity needs to be done, or how frequently.
  2. Write how you want to measure the effectiveness of the activity.
  3. The time estimate column is to put an approximation of how much time the activity should take. (Consider how much time you have to allocate to your marketing based on the first exercise in this workbook.)
  4. Finally, enter any external costs estimates in the last column.

Step 5: Activity Report

Remember to be flexible with your plan, but don’t bail on the plan halfway through the year. Use this step and step 6 to keep on track throughout the year. On the first Activity Report sheet, fill in what you commit to doing throughout the year and keep track of actual time spent, cost and measurables. Finally, give it a grade based on performance.

Step 6: Activity Report Snapshot

Use the information from Step 5 to fill out this report as a monthly and annual summary. This will allow you to assess which activities to start, stop or keep doing. Think about what changes you can make to improve performance and if the time and cost are worthwhile.

Congratulations, You’ve Got a Plan!

Now you’ve got an executable marketing plan for the year. If you need any help with identifying your target audiences, understanding what marketing activities can reach your targets or measuring and assessing marketing performance, feel free to reach out to us for help.

Don’t Have Time to Plan On Your Own?

We get it. It takes time and effort to put together a plan, much less execute it and keep up with everything else on your plate. That’s why we create Strategic Marketing Plans for a number of businesses each year. Our proven process has helped many business owners and executives get a clear path to a results driven plan and budget, while they focus on running the business.
Learn more

  • 50+ Marketing Plans
  • Dozens of Industries
  • 23 Years of Experience

Contact Us About A Strategic Marketing Plan

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