From marketing strategy to marketing plan – here’s how to do it

Something I have been doing a lot of recently (as part of my interim Marketing Director service) is translating marketing strategy into a plan or plans that are implemented within a company.

Here are the key considerations:

Have someone in-house who is responsible

It’s great to have external support for marketing planning, but there are times when an internal decision needs to be made and actioned. You need consistency in such decision making so that you avoid duplication, wasted effort and mistakes.

The responsible person should be someone who has been involved in developing the strategy. It is a huge mistake to try to cascade down the interpretation of a strategy to different people with different roles and responsibilities. And opinions actually – because everyone has these. Bringing in someone new will almost always provide an unhelpful incentive for them to stamp their own mark on it.

Of course you might have someone new (internal or external) actually writing the plan. But there must be strategic oversight to ensure that you actually achieve what was set out. And the best way to ensure that is to have the involvement of at least one of the people who developed the strategy.

Don’t start from the beginning again

It might sound obvious but with marketing planning, you are not starting from a complete blank cavass. You already have a brand, so you need to nurture and manage this in whichever ways are most appropriate. Your strategy sets the limits within which you are working.

It’s great to be creative when planning your campaigns – but don’t let this creativity take your brand off course.

Separate message but same objective

Never fall into the trap of ‘blank canvassing’ a marketing activity. If you are planning a campaign or an event or content for any kind of marketing activity then you need to use the strategy as your reference point and your guide. Sure the audience might be a single segment out of several that you target, but your strategy has already taken account of this, right?

You are not creating a completely new message for this activity. You are creating a tailored variant of the message already produced.

Separate techniques but same objective

There is no such thing as ‘digital strategy’. Nor ‘email strategy’. Nor ‘social media strategy’ etc etc.

Don’t believe me? Then tell me what your digital objectives are. Now tell me what your marketing objectives are. … Are they the same? They should be!

You need different bits of marketing activity that are pulling you in the same direction. And on the same journey. That means one strategy. Have as many ‘plans’ as you want.

Marketing attribution

You need to know which marketing activities work and which ones don’t. But remember – you need to give things a genuine chance before judging. I know of cases in which a marketing activity has brought in results multiple times the investment made, but because the results happened several months after the campaign, they had stopped measuring. This is a road to bad marketing decisions and needs to be avoided.

Also – if something doesn’t work, that doesn’t necessarily mean you should stop doing that activity. What you need to do is diagnose the reason(s). Is it the wrong targeting or the wrong message for example? Or is it badly executed? Reasons range from the simple to the complicated. If your key message is attention to detail for example and you have a couple of errors in your email content; perhaps this is not a sign that email marketing is the wrong thing for you.

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