Marketing Strategy and Planning: How To Avoid Marketing Budget Disasters
It’s that time of year again and I have to ask the only question that matters for those of us involved in marketing strategy and planning:
Do you know which marketing programs have worked and which ones didn’t? And what was the return on the investments you made?
I am always completely amazed at how few of us can answer this question.
And I understand this is hard. Accountability is tough on B2B Marketing organizations. We are complex beasts with many forces at work. But is this really an excuse as you lead into your 2013 budget and planning process?
Marketing leaders have to stop throwing good money after bad, based on assumptions that are never validated. Based on decisions that are never revisited. Based on politics and business cases that have no numbers in them. It’s just math! And we all know the nerds will win.
So get ready to take a new approach to planning…
What Is A Marketing Strategy?
It’s the approach you take to achieve your marketing objectives. It should be followed by a business plan. If you want funding: write a business plan. If you want to pitch a new idea: write a business plan.
Instead, we look at last year’s budget and add or subtract a few percentage points. Or maybe we look at which Sales VP is barking the loudest lately and throw him a few bones.
Here’s an idea: Zero-based planning. Take all your old assumptions and throw them out. Fund nothing without a business plan. Question every dollar and require that good old fashion business plan. Then, make sure you re-visit the assumptions and projections so your team knows they cannot just make up the numbers.
One of my greatest work-life lessons: is to never lack a strategy. Just as important: be able to articulate it. And if you really want to get something done, have a plan for it.
Do you fund teams and projects simply because they exist. With no strategic business plan, you will quickly start producing content and campaigns no one wants and spending money that is ineffective.
How to Build a Business Case For Your Budget
Imagine a world where your strategy is aligned to your customer’s buying process and then your business outcomes. Data drives the decisions. You have a clear marketing objective. And you know how you are helping your company to get there.
In that ideal world, you don’t spend money to justify jobs. You seek to get results that prove your worth.
So don’t wait! It’s never too early to start planning for 2013!
5 Steps to Avoid a Marketing Strategy and Planning Disaster:
- Identify your business goals and evaluate them in context with the latest marketplace realities and customer research. Start with the customer problems you can solve and take their perspective.
- Ruthlessly evaluate what worked and what didn’t in the past. Pick winners and prune the losing tactics, techniques and processes. Shift people to where they are needed most.
- Model the appropriate marketing mix in order to achieve a higher return on marketing spend.
- Define a Content Strategy based on the needs of todays’ buyers. Create an audience-first marketing mentality.
- Define an always-on, inbound marketing approach that produces more efficient and effective marketing outcomes.