Mom always said “if you say you’re going to do something then make sure you do it.” You wrote a marketing plan. This will be your roadmap to success, right? Well, there is more to it than just writing a great plan. Would you believe that 90% of companies fail to execute their strategies?* The key to every successful marketing program lies in the execution. For the best results, I recommend a four-part mix of team engagement, forward thinking, discipline and accountability.
Engagement begins with communication and buy-in. Communication + Buy-in = a teamlaser focused on a mutual goal. Everyone needs to be focused on the objective, not just you and the leadership team. Start by involving the wider team in the plan and let the buy-in grow organically. Extend an invitation to the finance, operations and sales teams. The reality is these teams are the stakeholders that will bring your consumer facing strategies to life. Although not everyone can or should participate this shouldn’t stop you from sharing the plan with the entire organization and explaining why it is important. Communicate openly and honestly about the company’s goals and how you intend to get there. Not everyone has access to the detailed information you have or a view of the field from your elevation. Break it down into bite-sized pieces to better communicate clearly in a way the whole team can wrap their head around. Buy-in, clarity and transparency lead to engagement.
Forward thinking is pausing to take a breath and thoughtfully considering what you are trying to do. You have already outlined the tactics you believe will fulfill your strategies although this doesn’t mean you need to do them all at once. I preach to my teams that the best way to not get behind is to plan ahead. Consider when you will get the biggest bang for your buck and how long it will take to complete. Identify your deliverable dates and work backward from there. Build yourself a timeline, set your tent poles and then do it. Jumping right into it leads to frustration, a feeling of being overwhelmed, confusion and increases the risk of costly errors. It is hard to stay focused on the big picture when you constantly feel like you’re behind. Pausing may create a brief period of pain as your work piles up but the benefits will be immense.
Break up overwhelming objectives into bite-sized steps and leverage all appropriate channels. For example, if you were trying to send a postcard to drive educational fieldtrips, do you think anyone will open it over the December holidays? No, they are planning their field trips in the Spring and Fall. Let’s assume you completed your plan in October. Sending your mailer right away may not maximize your return. If your customer is doing their planning in the Spring it may be more beneficial for you to get your mailer on their desk the last week of March. Now you have identified the deliverable date. Let’s work backward from there.
|Mailer Delivered||Last Week of March||Week of March 27|
|Printer mailing out or ship to mail house||One week||March 20|
|Printing||Two weeks||March 6|
|Files delivered to printer, review proofs & sign off||One week||February 27|
|Design, revisions, sign off||Two weeks||February 13|
|Draft a brief for designer||One week||February 6|
You now know in order to get the mailer in front of your customer just before they start their planning you need to start your project brief at the beginning of February. Mark your calendar now and always give yourself extra time to avoid the last-minute stress. Focus on the things you can control.
Discipline is critical to successful execution. Far too often we operate in a reactive environment. Yes, we should monitor performance and adjust as we go but we need to be mindful of the plan and the over-arching strategy. If your strategy is to drive volume you will likely be running promotions that discount or add value ultimately reducing your per cap. Don’t immediately stop the promotion to save your per cap. Calculate the risk/reward of a volume strategy when you plan it. Use this information to fence-in your promotion. This construct will act as your safety net.
Stick to your project timelines. If you start the mailer project from the example above a week later than scheduled you have added undue stress on the process and risk missing your deadlines. A missed deadline can result in missing the customers consideration period and ultimately lost business.
Finally, accountability is another essential component of executing your strategy. Set clear, realistic and measurable goals for the entire team and have them acknowledge these goals. Empower and provide them the tools they need to exceed. Schedule regular, individual follow-ups to track progress and confirm you are distributing additional resources where they are needed so the whole team achieves its goal.
Engage and motivate your team. Provide the tools and hold them accountable. Remember, it’s a marathon, not a sprint so pace yourself. If you are disciplined in your execution, nothing can stop you.
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