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February 25, 2016

A changing world requires a fluid, agile and accountable marketing plan.

Martin Perez
President and CEO, Merge Left Marketing

While not exact in their estimates, grade school kids are aware the world spins fast enough to whisk around the solar system at incredible speeds (rotating at 1,000 miles per hour and 67,000 miles per hour around the solar system), and yet slow enough for us to remain balanced and fairly steady on our feet as we move throughout the day. Imagine the oddity or—even strangely interesting possibilities—if this truth came to a sudden, crashing halt. The entire population that didn’t happen to have a firm grip on something attached to earth would fling outwards, into space in one amazing, albeit terrifying “large step” for mankind.

The dynamic is something science fiction writers can toil on about. It’s also something smart business is aware of as they craft their next marketing strategy. The reality is at a moment’s notice the business world can stop spinning one direction and head another, and things can be tossed erratically into the air. Whether it’s a small but painful bad customer review, or something more significant like an expensive product release failure, as business men and women who try to remain balanced and steady on your feet, the dangers of being unprepared or simply not having the capacity to withstand such unexpected movements in the marketplace can create a catastrophic outcome. It requires agility in approach, exit strategy and metrics to fully prepare for best and worst case scenarios in the business world. It’s a contingency process that requires anticipation, planning (and then more planning), talent and execution to provide for a more fluid, responsive and likely successful implementation in any situation.

The big things we see aren’t really even the worst things we can prepared for. The slow, silent killers of marketing are the death of small business and very damaging to large producers. After all, what is the likelihood the earth stops spinning, and we all tumble outward?

  • What is the likelihood that employees lose the company money due to repetitive, unnecessary communications, or poor management of resources?
  • What is the likelihood you are spending (wasting?) marketing dollars on poor CRM tools, or ineffective outbound lead generation?
  • Do you have customized branding collateral or inconsistent design from a number of freelance outsources?

More akin to a leap year adjustment in our daily lives (another day in the year – what do we do?), these much smaller but more frequent dangers are the ones that can ultimately lead to a company’s undoing. And the ability to respond appropriately, to have checks in place to contain them, and to have an implementation strategy that mitigates risk are important to providing your business with the agility it needs to succeed.

Think about the Chipotle news from late 2015 and early 2016, where an E. coli scare amounted to millions in revenue loss as well as brand damage. Or harken back to an Eron from many years ago that shuttered an entire company built on the premise of successful business modeling. Quickly, would your company or business be able to withstand a devastating unbalance like those? Think smaller. Maybe you’re not looking at the millions and millions of a larger corporation. What about the loss of several thousand a month, or a blanket “hate” review from several clients or past customers? Or even smaller—would you be able to overcome a slow leak of revenue from a client who doesn’t pay on time, or doesn’t have the capacity to pay long term?

Whatever the changing environment or risk presents, there are practices a business can seek to understand in order to “ground” them in an ever-changing world. Some of those answers can be found in basic, but often not fully-realized strategic marketing deployments. Here are a few steps that may keep your world from spinning so much:

  1. Create strategic marketing overview plans and initiatives that directly correlate to quarterly, semi-annual and annual milestones as a guide for monthly or daily task management. Without understanding where you are allocating resources in your strategy, you’ll continue to spend money poorly, or in chasing rabbit trails from whatever vendor happens to come your way.  The deliberate nature of planning an overview can provide strong results from both sides of the dollar, the spend and the result of that spend.
  2. Integrate your communications with your strategic overview plans. Accountability and transparency in your expectations by listing initiative tasks alongside your communications will greatly improve your marketing implementation. Don’t separate the actual work from the documentation of the work. Together they provide a clear, specific picture of where you are at any given time.
  3. Understand your strategy. If you don’t have a marketing strategy, get one—not the advertise and spend money sort either. Rather, create a marketing strategy that includes advertising, team building and education, business objectives and initiatives, implementation via collateral and sales, and examine how each of those facets contribute to the success of your company’s financial goals.
  4. Make everyone aware that revenue is the expected outcome from your marketing spend. Even if it isn’t immediate, the goal for developing any agility-oriented or responsive marketing plans should have metrics and be tied to financial implications.

Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “Plans are nothing; planning is everything”. Are you willing to become more deliberate, accountable and steady in your marketing plans, preparing for the worst, the middle ground and the best? When you do you set yourself and your company up for a less dangerous world. That is to say – the business world remains dangerous, but you don’t. 

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