It’s often the case that a new fiscal year turns up before an organization has had time to formulate a new plan and that impacts go-to-market planning. Many of those organizations simply decide to extrapolate historical performance into the new fiscal year. Another approach is for companies to create 3 different scenarios: best, case, worst case, and what they can live with. The biggest issue that most organizations face, in terms of planning, is finding the time and the group effort required to plan properly. If a definite plan or roadmap isn’t put in place, there’s a better than average chance that an inordinate amount of time and money will be spent struggling to make tactical decisions and responding to fire drills and being. The reality is that you cannot have a realistic marketing plan without a corporate plan and it takes some time and effort—a block of time upfront or numerous chunks of time throughout the year. PowerPoint tends to be the medium of choice for communicating corporate and marketing plans so invest in a professionally designed PowerPoint template to engage, influence and persuade your audience.
Marketing – The Catalyst?
One of the best things that marketing can do to move the planning process along is to influence the corporate planning process or take over the planning process. Here are a few steps that should make the creation of a corporate and marketing plan that much easier.
The Market Overview
The goal here is to provide a brief overview of the market. The information that is usually included in the market overview includes market size, market growth, market share, technology, pricing, distribution strategy, etc.
It’s worth taking some time to reflect on assumptions that may have been made when the organization first entered the market, with focus placed on assumptions that may have changed during that time. There are a number of variables that have to be summarized when looking at business problems and solutions such as the satisfaction level of customers, the profiles of targeted prospects, and the product road map, to name but a few. What your organization should be trying to decipher is whether or not the market opportunity still supports the business model or whether it might require some changes.
A SWOT analysis is one great way to organize information about a product, company or market. The SWOT analysis should not be made up of reams of information that no one will ever read. The main goal of the SWOT analysis is to document the things that will have an impact of some sort on the organization. Those tend to include technology, products, services, geography, distribution channels, funding, etc. Every segment that has been invested in, or which is being looked at for investment, should be included in the SWOT.
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Set Corporate Objectives
Setting objectives for the coming year is important for any organization, but it is also incredibly difficult too. The objectives should be detailed in nature and should represent at least a 1-year period. The items that need to be addressed are those that are required for the company to be successful (revenue, expenses, profitability, customer satisfaction, etc.). If those objectives are not made clear, it will become all too easy for the organization to lose its way in the year ahead. Setting objectives means trying to create a balance between what the organization needs to succeed, and what has been requested from each area of the company. This will require a level of give and take, which can only be achieved by taking a careful approach to the planning process, especially when it comes to allocating resources that are scarce.
Marketing Strategies and Objectives
Organizations can effectively manage anywhere between 3 and 5 key objectives each year. As soon as those objectives are decided upon by the management team and have board approval, each functional area needs to build their respective plan to support the corporate objectives in a cascading manner.
The strategies included in the corporate plan can then become operating objectives in marketing. Marketing will then develop strategies to support those objectives and support go-to-market plans. Each department within marketing should be clearly correlated to the overall marketing objectives and strategies and each employee within marketing should know and understand how they contribute to the overall objectives for marketing and the company.
The marketing audit is used to establish a baseline and set the organization up for success in the next year. The audit is an objective and structured way to collect and analyze information that is a forerunner to solving potential problems. An audit is required to set the benchmark by which marketing can prioritize investments and continually improve its contribution to the company’s performance.
When a marketing audit is being conducted, it’s important that all resources and arrange them by functional group, initiative or whatever categorization makes sense. The next step is to embrace a scoring methodology and apply it consistently. Then, everything with a score also needs a weight to communicate how important it is relative to all other items. Next, assign a score that would be reflective of the desired outcome and calculate the gap between the current state score and the future state score. The final step in the audit is to rank and prioritize each of the capabilities that are accomplished by incorporating the weight into the calculation. The end goal is to be able to efficiently guide investments within the organization to secure all stated objectives to provide the maximum return.
Structure, Staff, Systems, Process
Once a clear vision has been established and all goals and objectives communicated, then the organization can focus on operational execution. That means breaking down the strategy into staff, system, and process.
As critical as organizational structure is, it should always remain open to change. Simply put, the structure shows how a company is organized, makes decisions, collaborates and executes. It stands to reason that the structure would in fact change if the organization decides to any or all of its objectives.
Systems are put in place to facilitate employees successfully completing tasks that have been pulled from their objectives through automation, to scale and for accountability. When the right systems are chosen and put in place correctly, they can help increase productivity whilst also reducing costs. Systems create order, making it easier for the organization to drive new processes. Tasks will have a clear and definite structure, which in turn usually leads to outcomes being achieved repeatedly, without the need for micro-management.
Once an alignment has been established between corporate and marketing objectives, the focus can then turn to the strategies that will drive tactics. Marketing will generally be charged with building and maintaining the brand, helping to create better products and generating sales. Ensuring that tactics align with strategies to achieve objectives is crucial for employees, managers and management. Weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual meetings and reviews are best suited to keep efforts in sync.
Much in the way that a pilot operates when flying blind, the marketing organization has to rely on the tools and instruments that will help them to manage resources and outcomes. Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and metrics are used by many organizations to manage such items as budgets, awareness, ROI, customer satisfaction, etc. It’s important the KPI’s and metrics that are used are ones that hold the most meaning when taken in an industry perspective. Organizations will often use KPI’s and dashboards as a way to gauge their overall performance.
It’s only when an organization truly understands what is important to its success that it can choose the correct KPI. When it comes to KPI’s, the less is more rule is generally preferred. The KPI’s used should match the functions and objectives of the organization. Dashboards are used to gather information that deliver useful data, as well as being used to measure, monitor, and manage business activities in both financial and non-financial measures. Analysis gathered from the dashboard can be used to move the organization closer to their objectives.
The move from corporate plan to marketing plan is one that can happen very quickly. The focus can switch from market trends to KPI’s in the blink of an eye. Beginning with a solid planning process will make it easier to plan and allocate resources for go-to-market across the organization so objectives can be reached quickly and effectively.
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