As a marketing manager you need to be on top of your game to bring success to your company and clients. There is a saying that a house without a proper foundation will get demolished sooner or later, no matter how good you do the rest.
The same thing can be said for marketing. Planning is the foundation you need to lay down flawlessly, or you will find yourself fighting a lost battle, no matter how hard you try.
To make your life easier, here is an outline of 5 essential steps you need to take into consideration when doing your marketing planning.
Whether you are doing the marketing planning for your own company or for a client, the first thing you need to think about is the objective.
What does the company want to achieve with the help of marketing?
What kind of consumers need to be targeted to achieve this goal?
The answers to these questions vary a lot from business to business and it’s essential that you spend as much time as needed to clearly define the objectives before proceeding with your planning. Also, to make everything more clear and to the point, make sure the goals set aren’t wavering in the clouds: they need to be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
After defining the objective, it’s time to think about how you will make it happen. In other words, the objective has to be more or less attainable with the resources you have. This includes your team (how many people do you have?), budget (how much cash can you dedicate to marketing?), skills and expertise (how fast can your team complete a specific task, while preserving high quality?) and technology (what kind of stuff can you do? Video, visuals, billboards, PPC, etc.)
Evaluating resources available will help understand whether the objective at hand can be achieved within a realistic time frame and quality. You may find yourself in situations where you just won’t be able to make out whether you can do it or not. The best advice here is to be honest about everything with your clients.
If you know you can’t do something, better tell them from the start. Your honesty will be appreciated and will help avoid ugly situations in the future, when something will go wrong.
Also, if you know what resources are available to you, you will be able to identify and seize opportunities that may come along on your path to make the results even better.
“Knowledge is power, use it well”
The tricky part in your planning process starts here. Risks are your omnipresent companion in any kind of venture you decide to take. No project or plan is ever risk free. Let that sink in.
Calculating, discovering and evaluating as many possible risks as you can is the best thing you can do when starting your initial planning. Think about everything that may cause problems (starting from team members getting sick and ending with budget shortages) along the way and think of an optimal solution for each. Make a document with your solutions that you can refer to later when there will be a need to solve an issue.
It’s also important to understand that no matter how godly you are at risk assessment, there is just no way you can think about all of the possibilities. This is why you need to make your plan adjustable (or agile) to a certain degree (which varies from plan to plan, project to project) to be able to counter as many attacks as possible in the future.
After all the hard work you have done, it’s time for some more. Strategy. You will need to use all the intelligence you have gathered before and decide what your marketing strategy will be. Do you go with Inbound marketing, PPC or traditional? What aspects do you need to focus on most? (Social media or maybe video content?) How are you going to convert leads into customers?
All this questions are very hard to answer and there is no guide on the web that will tell you what you need to do, so don’t waste time looking for it. Use your past experience (or senior member’s experience if you need) understanding and knowledge of the business world to come up with the best possible strategy for the given case.
Execution and monitoring
The last phase is always the most important one. If you have a brilliant idea (or strategy), but fail to execute it properly, then all your work was done in vain. On the other hand, a weaker idea backed up with outstanding execution can deliver significant results. Think about this when jumping into the last phase.
As the marketing manager, you will need to be on a 24/7 lookout for any problems and never leave stuff unattended. This doesn’t mean you must become a tyrant that watches every single step of your team members, creating an unnecessary tension. You want to be seen as a leader who cares for the cause most, so that others will look up to you.
On a final note remember that nothing ever goes as well as we hoped it would (unless you are as lucky as those guys), but never get discouraged. Remember the 3Ps: persistence, passion and prowess. They will help you deal with pretty much anything as long as you really, really try -)