At Hive9, we believe planning to be the cornerstone of a data-driven marketing approach. Unfortunately, planning is a term that’s often used and seldom explained.
It’s entirely possible to hear the term “marketing planning” and conflate it with simply having a budget or a general penned strategy, but the two aren’t the same thing. That’s merely step one in the kind of iterative process we’re talking about when we use the term.
What is marketing planning?
Marketing planning is the process of building all your marketing activities and campaigns based on clearly defined marketing goals and the insights provided by your marketing analytics. Outlined below are the three caveats required for successful plan deployment.
Marketing planning is ongoing.
The problem some companies face when creating a marketing plan is that they treat it as a one-time project – perhaps at the beginning of each year or period. If you create a marketing plan once and then move on, it’s easy to forget your original goals and divert resources over time without consideration. Conversely, one might also be inclined to stay true to originally defined goals even when program results warrant change.
Effective marketing planning must be ongoing. When your data tells you one marketing tactic isn’t getting the results needed to meet your goals for the quarter, you can shift your budget to a better performing program.
Achieving this requires embracing a mindset of flexibility. You and your team must be willing to adapt your approach as you go in order to yield successful outcomes in a changing environment.
Marketing planning is data-driven.
When people think of planning, often they imagine making plans in advance and sticking to them with the ultimate goal of reporting on results when the program comes to term. Changing your approach to a marketing campaign that’s in process would seem to be the opposite – unless you’re making changes based on tangible, carefully considered information. Following whims isn’t marketing planning, but following data is.
For true marketing planning to work, it has to be data driven. You need to get the right solution into place to follow how your marketing tactics are performing in real-time so you can be sure you’re making the smartest decision each time you make an adjustment or course correction.
The marketing planning mindset isn’t just about being flexible, rather, it’s about paying attention to how your results line up with your goals. It’s marketing with a constant focus on your clearly stated purpose and how well you’re pulling it off.
Marketing planning is collaborative.
Too many marketing departments exist in a vacuum. Marketing planning helps marketing break down the walls between your department and your peers in sales, customer service, finance, and the executive leadership. In order to successfully track how well your marketing activities are helping you meet organizational goals, you might elect to rollout a method to conduct revenue attribution and/or the exploration of your customer’s experience through the sales cycle and, ultimately, to the point of close.
As you begin to incorporate the full experience prospects have with your brand, your marketing planning and analytics can extend to providing sales and customer with meaningful insights. Since marketing performance solutions make it possible to track ROI, you can finally start to provide finance and your CEO with the results that are most important to them.
Marketing planning helps marketers develop a mindset that prioritizes the big picture over smaller, insular goals, thus ensuring marketing’s alignment with the other departments at your company.
Why Businesses Should Make Marketing Planning a Priority?
If you’ve been settling for the insights provided via a static marketing plan, you should consider upgrading to a more robust planning solution. The shift to ongoing, data-driven marketing pays off for businesses in several key ways.
It encourages harmony between departments.
Marketing planning forces marketing to think beyond simple KPIs like the number of inquiries for a given period. As you change focus and message toward the personas that are most likely to close, for example, sales sees a benefit in the form of a shorter sales cycle and increasingly qualified leads. Additionally, when marketing is asked to report on the effectiveness of their spend, they can show company leaders specific examples of where ineffective budget was repurposed and where peak programs were provided additional resource.
It enables you to produce results that earn additional revenue.
Strategic company goals are difficult to decouple from revenue results. That means by tying your marketing activities back to goals, you’re drawing a clear line between your marketing campaigns and the money they’re bringing in. Marketing attribution allows the team to see precisely the result of each program or tactic on revenue, whether in whole or in part. Through careful review you can not only start to bring in more money for the company, but you can also show leadership in clear terms that you’ve done so.
It helps you reclaim budget through better decision-making.
When you can see what’s working, you also see which initiatives are falling behind at helping you achieve your stated goals. That knowledge enables you to cut the fat and get more of your budget back to spend on the campaigns and activities that perform best.
Higher ROI, happier leadership, and harmony with the other departments in your company – it may sound like a pipe dream. Naturally, for marketing planning to produce all those things, it must be deployed thoughtfully. But some businesses are seeing the kind of progress yours likely dreams of and you can too. If you’d like more information on how Hive9 can help, all you need do is ask.