It’s past the stroke of midnight… Featured

7:00pm EDT December 31, 2006

If you’re reading these words, and you don’t have a marketing and communications plan in place for 2007 — then you should resign your post at once. You heard correctly, I did say that. If you are in a leadership role in your organization, it’s your responsibility to lead. How can you lead the way if you don’t have a fresh vision and don’t know what direction you plan to take in the New Year?

Okay, so you refuse to resign? Then let’s get busy planning. The New Year is already ticking forward. I do not suggest that you do this by yourself; you’ll need buy-in from your team. Pull your leadership team together for a strategy session where you can develop the best ideas through brainstorming. It’s best to do this away from the office if possible. Pick a destination that is within a two-hour drive, so that you can still accomplish everything you need to in one day.

Charging forward
Unlike most people, I do not call this a retreat. I have never understood why companies call these strategy sessions a retreat. I don’t even like the sound of the word — it means to withdraw, retire, or draw back. Why, then, would you retreat? I prefer to call this most important session a ‘charge.’ After all, charging forward is what this is all about.

Keep your leadership charge fresh, relaxing and in a creative environment. The key to this meeting is inclusion, getting everyone involved. Sometimes it helps to have a facilitator at the session, to insure that you get the most out of the time. At the end of the day, you should have an extensive collection of ideas that can be weaved into your marketing and communications plan. Don’t wait too long before you begin the process of incorporating these ideas into the plan. It’s good to do it the following week as you arrive back at the office.

As you develop the plan, remember marketing is every touch-point that impacts a customer. Think not only of different ideas, but different angles and ways that you can attract prospective customers. This is not about how much money you can spend; it’s about how innovative you can be. The best results will come from developing an integrated marketing plan. Today, it’s not just about advertising. It takes a comprehensive and integrated approach to reach your future customers. The combination of a strong publicity program, combined with guerrila marketing, can produce strong results.

Ad or event?
Event marketing can also deliver a stronger ROI than taking out an ad. Consider becoming part of business events that will tie into your overall marketing strategy. Determine which sponsorships would benefit your company as well as increasing your exposure. Partner with other companies that have been successful in producing events in the past. Research and create innovative ways for your company to give back to your community. Giving back to the community is not only good for the community, it’s good for you. Attaching your company name to a strong not-for-profit can create great name recognition for you. Cause-related marketing has the potential to deliver market awareness and unprecedented results.

As you plan your annual strategies, consider which ideas will make the greatest impact and schedule them throughout the year.

MALCOLM A. TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at mat@ScreaminEyes.com. To obtain more information about upcoming events and possible event sponsorship, visit www.MarketingofDistinction.com. You may also call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.