Lately, I’ve been reflecting on some of the key changes in the world of marketing and marketing strategy since I started in the game 20+ years ago.
It’s fair so say that there have been so many changes that I barely know where to begin.
However, one that concerns me the most is the demise of the formalised marketing plan.
When was the last time you put together a really structured marketing plan?
I’m talking about setting goals, objectives, strategies, tactics and actions.
For many years, these were considered the core elements of any marketing activities. Anybody whose studied marketing at uni would no doubt have originally become familiar with them through the works of the great Philip Kotler, etc.
They were taught for so many years at colleges around the world for one simple reason. They worked.
Then this thing known as digital marketing came along, and before we knew it, the perception was that marketing had to be so fluid and so reactive to customer needs that a structured plan and a formalised, yet simple marketing strategy went out the window.
But to what detriment?
I understand the need to be customer focused and responsive, but by focusing on this entirely, a marketing manager is not really doing their job of forming that key commercial link between two things.
- The company and its products/services
- The wants/needs of the customer.
In my opinion, it is only when the two are married up seamlessly via a whole range of marketing initiatives is the marketing manager really succeeding.
What this means is that they need to be working across the whole business – from product conception/design/selection, and throughout the entire development process. Not just being brought in at the end to create the campaign.
A clever marketing brain will make sure that they’re involved from the very beginning, and at the highest level. They need to really understand the business from the top, understand the business goals and objectives inside out, and if they’re really smart about it, use their influence to bring the customer wants and needs into the broadest level of strategic business planning before it’s all signed off.
Then, with their full understanding of 2 things…
- Who the company is and where they’re headed.
- Who the customers are, and what they want/need.
…they fill in the gaps, and still the best way of doing this is with a formalised marketing plan.
The 4 steps to marketing success.
Don’t panic. It doesn’t need to be that complicated. A simple marketing strategy is a what I like to refer to as a cascading process, with each level driving the next, and it really only needs to include the following 4 steps.
- Marketing objectives – Driven from the business objectives and outlining in the broadest sense what you want to achieve
- Marketing strategies – Outlining how you will achieve each of the marketing objectives
- Marketing tactics – The specific activities you will undertake in order to deliver on each of the strategies
- Implementation – The physical delivery of each of the marketing tactics.
It’s worth it.
A simple marketing strategy is not that hard to put together, yet its benefits are substantial.
The key reasons being that it keeps your marketing activities on the right track, it prevents important areas from being neglected, and it places you in the best position to achieve the goals of the business.
After all, as a marketing manager isn’t that what you’re really being paid for?