February 1, 2015

One of the biggest challenges for a business lies in the creation of its marketing plan. This plan should be the foundation and backbone of all marketing initiatives. However, businesses normally make at least one of the following five common planning mistakes, which prevents what would otherwise be effective marketing from being anything other than hard-to-measure, sporadic and disorganized chatter.

Who Has Time to Plan?

The first mistake many companies make is that they deploy marketing tactics without any prior planning. Months of toil on digital marketing, advertising and direct marketing can add up to nothing if a company has decided to just wing it in the marketing department. The reasons behind this mistake are plentiful, from a lack of organization to a team that is overworked and lacking in resources.

Whatever the cause, any negative impact on the success and effectiveness of a marketing team undermines the needs of the company as a whole. For a company, brand or product to be successful, there must be a solid marketing plan in place. Spend the time, spend the money, and spend the energy. These are investments that cannot be overvalued.

Marketing on Autopilot

Many companies believe that what worked last year will work this year, and next year, and the year after that. For a marketing team that is overstretched and reacting to the next fire it needs to put out or demand it needs to fulfill, taking the time to do a post-mortem on the previous year, evaluate initiatives, update strategies for the coming year, and develop tactical execution plans with timelines and measurements aren’t top priorities. But they need to be. Management has to provide the time and space needed to allow these crucial functions to be performed and to create a culture that places value on measurement, evaluation and planning.

Marketing From the Inside Out

Has your marketing team ever researched what customers think of the brand? Most likely, the answer is no. At some point in the evolution of the company, someone decided what the best positioning was for the brand, and that opinion has been handed down without question or update. How can a company know that it is headed in the right direction without connecting with consumers and asking the right questions? Is it possible that the view from outside is quite different than the view from inside? The true definition of a brand lies with the consumer. Taking the time to determine what the reality of your brand is on a regular basis is essential to success.

Is It a Strategy or a Tactic?

One of the most common issues with marketing plan development is that many of those responsible for creating strategies and tactics have no idea what the difference is between the two. As the brilliant yet simple saying goes, “If your strategy is a surprise attack, then your tactic should be to jump like crazy and throw your spear very hard.” Every marketing plan should include goals, objectives, strategies and tactics. And every company should make sure that those responsible for building the plan know the definition of each of these components.

S.O.S.: Shiny Object Syndrome

Shiny object syndrome is another symptom of a lack of proper planning. Many clients come across opportunities that seem fun, easy, and inexpensive or cool, but they have no way to determine whether or not they are at all in line with the current goals of their businesses. Without development of measurable objectives and strategies, there is no framework in which to measure the effectiveness of the next shiny object that comes across their desk. Again, make the time and resources available to create a plan; it will save money and increase growth in the future.

Building a brand, establishing consumer relationships, creating equity and owning market share all take planning. A marketing department needs to have a set protocol in place and appropriately invest the resources required in the development and execution of its marketing plan on an annual basis. Once a marketing team understands the impact and value of its initiatives, it can justify its budgets and move from being a cost center to a value center.

-Sarah Julian

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