You know you need a marketing plan (or if you don’t, read our previous post then return to this one), but it won’t magically appear without your input. A plan is critical to a firm’s success with marketing.
As a person responsible for marketing in your organization, you already have a full-time job. How do you find time to develop a plan each year? How do you carve out time to review and tweak it?
With decades of experience working with numerous groups on their marketing plans, we’ve seen a number of great solutions to finding time. Here are our top 7:
- Get away. An intense week offsite with the whole team can do wonders – away from the phones, meetings, and deadlines. Since developing a marketing plan combines research diligence, numbers, focus, AND creativity, it’s good to plan different down-time options for the most productivity.
- Use a facilitator. Sometimes we all need somebody to crack the whip or serve as the team nag. Many groups find planning success by hiring a facilitator to help them through the process. Facilitators have many different thought starters and questions to get the creative and analytical juices rolling. They are equally important in helping team members find a place to stop obsessing over one aspect and move on to the next.
- Break up the task to different members or groups. This is a classic method used by companies of all sizes. Here at Uncork-it, we sometimes assign different topics to team members; we all work on the same online document, building it in sections. You can divide by type of work, such as research, analysis, writing topic, and more. Larger marketing groups have different teams for different functions, each building sections that eventually need to be combined into a whole.
- Get to the office 20 minutes earlier. Every day until it’s done. Don’t check email or answer phones, just work on a section of the marketing plan.
- Attend a marketing plan bootcamp. Marketing Plan bootcamps have different structures. One of our favorites is a combination of facilitator and getaway. We meet with a team each week for an hour until the background work is done, then move into getaway, where we meet onsite for a day or two to hammer out tactics, calendar, and budget.
- Make it a critical part of the company culture. It’s amazing how much easier it is to find time when everybody in the company knows it must happen and the CEO is behind it. Cultural change can be difficult, but it is possible and yields impressive results.
- Outsource. Some companies outsource all or parts of their plan. That can be very effective, as long as they stay involved and own the results. A plan that doesn’t reflect your company won’t be used, so make sure you keep in touch.
Once you have your completed marketing plan, however, you’re not yet done. Find time on your calendar to revisit your marketing plan at least once a quarter for the rest of the year—and mark your calendars now to make sure it happens.
The good news is that writing and reviewing a marketing plan gets easier each time, as long as you do it regularly. You have to update with new information and review your strategies based on what is working, but you’ll have more information each time, leading to less uncertainty and guessing.
The traditional time to develop a marketing plan is during the fall, so the implementation can begin with the new year. If you would like to follow this schedule, Uncork-it is providing a free “nudge” service, where you will get weekly emails reminding you to check your progress and providing tips for the next step.
However, the timing is far less important than getting it written. Marketing is a constant exercise!