Planning is the first step toward successful campaigns. That’s not the sort of topic marketing professionals debate, rather, it’s the kind of thing we all treat as common knowledge. But it’s also one of those things marketing departments never quite manage to sit down and actually do.
So now this is the part where you get to be smug. You’re one of the marketing organizations that did take the time to sit down and work up a plan. You’re right on top of this one.
Except, are you sure the plan you have is the right one for your business?
It Can Pay to Reconsider
At Sirius Decisions Summit earlier this year, Craig Moore and Marcia Trask shared some hard truths. A lot of marketing plans fall into fall into two categories:
- The Overly Complex Marketing Plan – This is the plan you spend a lot of time and money developing. Perhaps you’ve hired someone to come in and help you put it together. A lot of analysis goes into it. It’s probably a huge document that, if printed out, would feel like a crime. And at the end of the day, it’s simply too complicated for your marketing team to incorporate into their daily lives.
- The List of Tactics – On the other end of the spectrum is the overly simple marketing plan. You decide what tactics you want to use. You make a list. And your team does the tactics on the list. Easy enough.
What’s wrong with the first type of plan is obvious, nobody ever adopts it. It’s too disconnected from what the day-to-day of your marketing organization looks like to ever gain a reality off the page.
The second one can actually drive action, but it keeps those actions disconnected from any overarching goals. It’s just a glorified to-do list. While to-do lists are a useful tool in any marketing professional’s arsenal, marketing planning needs to go a few steps further.
Data-Driven Marketing Planning is Different Than Just Having a Plan
A solid marketing plan that will help you improve your marketing results needs to do two main things:
- Be based on data that shows you what’s working.
- Ensure all marketing activities are tied back to your goals.
To accomplish #1, you need to conduct a thorough analysis of where you are now. Don’t just pull out your spreadsheets to look at your marketing data, get the data you have into a consolidated format where you can see how all your different marketing activities and campaigns connect to each other, and then how all the results connect back to revenue.
That’s the only way for you to understand where to cut out the fat that’s not helping you meet your goals now and see which marketing activities are worth investing more of your time and budget in.
And that analysis will help you with #2. You need to figure out if the activities you’re emphasizing are actually helping you meet your goals, or if they can more accurately be described as random acts of marketing.
If you don’t have clear goals outlined right now, then sit down and get that done. Then, use your marketing analytics to work up a marketing plan that the data shows will help you achieve those goals.
Make sure your plan establishes an ongoing process to continually check your progress against your goals and see how your marketing activities are performing. Marketing planning isn’t one and done. It’s an ongoing process.
Bring it All Together
Complexity isn’t necessarily the enemy of good here. At an enterprise business, you can certainly expect the amount of data you have and the process of analyzing it to be complex (although, technology can make that part easier).
A list of tactics will likely play a role in the marketing plan you end up with. Marketing tactics are an important part of any marketing plan or campaign and many businesses simply give them too much focus in comparison to strategy.
The trick is bringing the two elements together. Your plan needs to include a strategy for execution if you want all the data and complicated analysis to pay off. And your tactics have to be connected to your goals in a clear and understandable way if you want to make sure the plan you have is the one that will help you be more successful.
It’s not easy, but it’s certainly doable. You just have to make the time to sit down and do it. Which you already know is possible, since you sat down to make the first iteration before. Now simply carve out the time in your schedule to make one that’s better.