Market Smarter

Helping Businesses Market Smarter and Create a Culture of Execution

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Let’s face it. The annual planning process is dead. Anyone that has been involved in the process can tell you it has been for a long time.  Why doesn’t annual planning work? Let’s take a look at a typical planning process:

  1. Time is designated on the calendar once a year for developing the plan.
  2. The purpose of the plan is not completely clear. It’s implied that by creating one it will help the company formulate a strategy and executed it.  Others might think it’s an exercise for a presentation to company executives, a board of advisors, or board of directors.
  3. People who are involved in development of the annual plan look forward to it in much the same way they do a root canal. Why? They are expected to work on the plan in addition to doing their regular responsibilities—and there is not enough time to get their regular job done. This causes the plan to be incomplete and/or the planning process gets stretched out over weeks and months. By the time it is completed, sections of it are already obsolete.
  4. Then what happens? Everyone is so happy to see that it’s finally over that there is a half-hearted attempt to communicate the plan. Sometimes it’s not shared beyond a small group of executives or cascaded to teams.  Other times the plan is just referenced occasionally in meetings; it’s not used to govern how the business operates.
  5. Process, organizational complexity and lack of a clear purpose are just a few of the reasons the annual planning process doesn’t work in organizations. The biggest reason annual planning no longer works (if it ever did) is the rapid pace of change. Bottom line, once-a-year marketing planning will not keep your business in shape to be competitive.

Imagine…a new way of planning

If you wanted to design a new planning process that is both efficient and effective, what words would you use to describe it? I think of words like Collaborative, Aligned, Real-Time, Relevant and Useful.

Like it or not, we are all required to “eat change for breakfast,” so why not change the out-dated process of planning? Eliminate the sacred and inefficient annual planning process and replace it with real-time planning that keeps pace with change.

It will help you continuously understand and respond to a constantly changing global marketplace and ever-evolving customer needs. 

Here’s a process to develop and implement a real-time marketing and business plan:

Real time Planning and Execution

  • Take a team based approach to planning. One of the easiest and most efficient ways to keep your plan updated is to assign various people or teams responsibility for updating certain sections of the plan.
  • Post the plan on a shared drive and create folders for discrete topics such as competitors, market trends, customers, channels, marketing programs, etc. As people come across information throughout the year they can upload the information into the folders with a brief description of the relevancy.
  • Strategic and tactical ideas can also be posted in the folders. Some may be good, some not so good, but everyone will feel like they are contributing to strategy development. This helps clarify their understanding of strategy and their role in executing it.
  • As programs are executed, the metrics should be documented along with other relevant notes about what influenced the outcome of the program. As results are discussed, it improves the strategy and execution of future programs. This is a small investment of time that will create focus, increase organizational learning and foster a culture of continuous improvement.
  • Integrate marketing planning with operations. If you have quarterly operations reviews, this is the best place to report results and adjust strategy.
  • Document and communicate the strategic and tactical changes.

Implementing a real-time planning process will help you continuously understand and respond to customers and a constantly changing market. It will link planning to execution and measure results so your business will continuously grow and improve.

What is your planning process like?

I can’t think of a better day to launch a new blog. This coincides with my new book Real-Time Marketing for Business Growth: How to Use Social Media, Measure Marketing and Create a Culture of Execution which hits bookstores today. This book is the culmination of everything that I have learned over my career—what works and what doesn’t work about marketing and business growth strategies. My goal is share what I have learned with you so that you can use these strategies, tips and tools to improve your marketing and grow your business.

If you choose to read my blog and communicate with me, you’ll probably notice three things right away. One, I tend to be fairly blunt about what works and doesn’t work about marketing. It’s time to change certain aspects of marketing that are broken or no longer work (or haven’t for decades).  We’ll discuss topics such as how to measure marketing, the role of marketing in organizations, and how businesses plan.

Two, I have an insatiable love for learning. I definitely subscribe to the philosophy of “learn something new every day.” I hope you will learn as much from me as I know I will from you. My goal is to provide you with lots of new information and resources to help you market smarter, not harder.

Third, you will notice that my definition of marketing is a bit different from most marketers.  Great marketing is not the result of the latest new marketing tactic or social media strategy. It’s about customer experience and company culture. We’ll certainly discuss tactics but it will be within a much more expanded, holistic perspective of marketing.

If you would like to read more about my viewpoints, the most concise summary is probably the book introduction. Take a peak and let me know what you think.

Here’s to a great relationship together!

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