There are three primary components to marketing success. A marketing strategy, plan, and tactics. Combine them if you must, but never confuse them. Distinct in purpose and critically co-dependent, they are your “why”, your “what”, and your “how”.
The strategy assigns purpose. It resides at the leadership level and incorporates the long-term goals of the company. The strategy, while evaluated annually, aligns with your business plan and rarely changes. It should come before and lead your annual marketing plan and ensuing tactics. Here are some questions answered by the strategy.
The plan gives direction and organization. It resides at the department level and is the annual alignment between your strategy and tactics. While the marketing plan is guided by the over-arching strategy, it is meant to be the annual “gameplan”. It includes annual goals with clearly defined KPIs and overall S.M.A.R.T. criteria. The current year’s plan should build on the previous year, set up the following, and progress the company toward its long-term goals. Here are some points outlined in the plan.
Tactics are the day-to-day marketing operations that execute the plan. Tactics encompass all your owned, earned, and paid media. This includes the technology and service selection, campaign management, advertising, public relations, content creation, SEO, SEM, emails, posts, videos, and more.
Signs of Trouble
How do you know you are failing in one or more of these areas? Have you ever felt like your marketing did a lot over the last year but accomplished very little toward your actual long-term business goals? “Why are we in the same position we were in 12 months ago?” This is one of the most common signs. Don’t cut corners. Be thorough. Be realistic. Be decisive. Stick to the plan. Things such as indecisiveness, routine changes in direction, haste, and micromanagement make it easy to get stuck in low gear and even derailed.
Momentum. As John C. Maxwell would say, “Momentum solves problems”. Maintaining momentum in the right direction is key, or every year will feel like you’re starting over.
Discover the four stages of digital strategy that will help you formulate a cohesive, aligned, guide for your marketing plan and set realistic expectations about the outcomes.