Every year I say I am going to start the marketing planning process earlier than the last, and every year I find myself in the trenches, still working on the plan the last two weeks before Christmas. So I am going to take some advice I heard listening to a recent webinar Mark Carr of the South Street Strategy Group (CMB’s sister company) gave for the Market Research Association (MRA). In the webinar, Mark talked about how to take the drudgery out of annual planning and get more out of the process itself by re-energizing the planning approach. Whether it’s research budgets or a plan to sell more widgets in 2011 I think the principals are the same. While Mark shared a lot of great tips there were a few that really stood out to me.
1. Don’t Get Budget Myopia - Be careful not to use the words or think about budgeting and planning as interchangeable. They are related, but not the same thing. You should have a separate process for both, and – if you want new approaches and innovation - the budget should come second. Start with a realistic plan that includes the strategies and tactics needed to reach your goals. The budget should be more about implementation of those strategies.
2. Circle Back to the Corporate Goals - Connecting your plan to the overall corporate goals is key, but ironically by the time many of us plan, we have often added in initiatives that may be good ideas but are ultimately off-strategy. Keep yourself honest by taking a fresh look at the plan at the end of the process, and see if a direct line can be drawn from each strategy (and eventually tactic) to a business objective. Your plan should be able to map its strategic objectives down to the key performance measures that are being used as indicators of success across the business, including longer-term goals.
3. Don’t Set it and Forget it - In today’s fast moving world, goals and strategies should be reviewed on a regular basis. Moreover, the best way to show your accountability and success is to measure your progress. Marketing measurement is becoming easier and more accurate with all the tools that are out there today. Make it your goal to take advantage of the wealth of information and to check in and tweak your plan throughout the year.
Visit the South Street Strategy Group web site to learn more.
Posted by Kristen Garvey. Kristen is CMB's Director of Communications, a mother of two, and is looking forward to spending the holidays with family.