Every company can relate to the constant battle of vision vs strategy vs execution in their marketing plans. Also, if you do not implement execution correctly, it can end up costing a lot in the long run- both in money and brand perception! In order to execute your strategy for marketing success, you need to have a high level view of your plan while still maintaining the ability to drill down to specifics. Successfully accomplishing the day-to-day tactics help to make-up the larger, overall picture.
How To Accommodate for the Unknown
Many companies create their marketing strategies on an annual basis. They lay out the who, what, where, when, and how of that strategy for the entire year. More specifically, it outlines the budget needed and the allocation of funds throughout that plan. However, all too often this marketing strategy gets filed away to never be brought back or measured against. Measurement and visibility are key to understanding how your efforts are performing while also keeping your strategy on track to achieve the goals and objectives that matter most. Externally, the same things are happening, creating new opportunities that were not available at the time of generating the plan.
So how can one plan for the known, while also remaining agile for the unknown? It takes a certain degree of dexterity to be able to stay on your toes, know what the opportunities are, and plan accordingly for both the known and unknown in order to ensure the success of your marketing strategy. Yes, plan for the unknown!
If you dust off your most recent marketing strategy, does it outline incremental goals and objectives? What is the timeline, budget, and how are you measuring against it? In order to successfully execute a marketing strategy, you should determine goals and objectives along with a timeline and budget. Setting a monthly task to review where you’re marketing plan is at and performing against expectations can help ensure that goals are consistently met. No matter how small these goals may be, they will help to keep you on track and focused. When unexpected opportunities arise, evaluate them to give them a fair assessment. Are they relevant and offer a new perspective that makes changing your goals and objectives worthwhile?
A Great Example of Marketing Agility
One client had been serving the same market for a decade. They then took a step back, recognizing that there was an opportunity to grow their business into adjacent markets. Realizing that approaching these new markets was unfamiliar, they planned for the unknown! Dipping their toes in the water, they allocated a few resources toward approaching the new market. Upon the first sale and the confirmation that their solution was viable (and now known), more dollars were allocated to continue penetrating that market. Their marketing strategy fundamentally shifted on a month-by-month basis as paralleled to the result of the market’s success.
What is key here is that they took what they didn’t know and planned for it accordingly. If the market was a bust, the dollars would have been shifted back to traditional markets or more market testing. They did not have it all figured out when developing their annual marketing plan but strategically planned for various outcomes.
Another Example of Embracing the Unknown
Another client was presented with the opportunity to speak at a prominent industry conference. This opportunity also offered an accompanying article placement in an industry trade publication. The client reallocated marketing dollars to further capitalize on this opportunity. They sponsored the conference and produced a custom e-mail that was sent to the trade publication’s contact list. Their article and supportive advertising was showcased front and center which resulted in increased brand awareness and new leads. Planning for the unknown allowed them to strike while the iron was hot. If they had front-loaded all their marketing dollars early in the year, they would have missed that opportunity.
These are only two of many examples that prove that planning for the unknown is just as important as planning for the known. The unknown may come with big risks, but with that there may be big rewards. So, develop your annual strategy but just don’t file it away! Keep it close and evolve with it as the world and market opportunities around you evolve as well.