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The quickest way to kill your marketing plan Featured

7:00pm EDT January 31, 2007

So let’s say you get it all right. You’ve worked diligently for some time to put together what you think to be a great marketing program. You now have an extensive marketing plan that you feel will work, which includes great creative ideas and a communications timeline. Your plan is put together in a professional presentation, you have great visual images, a catchy and compelling campaign, radio spots, TV commercials, print ads, flyers, posters, direct mailers, billboards and nifty promotional items. And you’re now ready to reach out to your public…

Stop. Your plan may be flawlessly designed, but are you truly prepared to walk your talk? Have you consulted with your staff and conducted essential internal research to ensure your plan’s success? Now you might say, “Malcolm, we don’t need to do any of that touchy-feely stuff; none of that matters. Our marketing plan is perfect — and really ‘pops.’” I’m here to tell you that, unfortunately, your plan is seriously flawed.

One of the biggest failures of a potentially successful marketing plan is neglecting to consult with your internal customers, conduct employee research or communicate the plan to your employees. Do your employees have a copy of the plan? Did they have input or help write it? Do they know anything about the plan — better yet, do they even care?

Chances are you probably guard this “strategic information” like the Fort Knox treasury. Don’t destroy yourself before you even begin. You may have the external and media touch points well addressed, but not thoroughly addressing your internally affected touch points is the express lane to a business dead-end.

Every touch point to a customer or potential customer matters — nothing matters more. What is a touch point? Everything from the vocal inflection when answering phones, office dcor, personalities, customer-centric attitudes and actions, to the bathroom being cleaned — and condition of the walkways and windows. Everything about your business is a reflection of who and what you are as an organization. The easiest way to blow a successful plan is to ignore some of these minute details. On the other hand, fine-tuning and orchestrating those details help take marketing — and your business — to another level.

Get your left and right talking
Systematically address this internal marketing and alignment. Survey your internal staff; talk to key players that deliver and execute on the claims made in your marketing. Be sure to include all of your employees. Dig a little deeper to see how even staff who don’t interact with your customers make an impact on customer deliverables. You may be surprised to find just how many ways that everything they do can help (or hinder) your marketing results. This process isn’t just about the CEO’s opinion; it’s about everyone involved in the day-to-day processes. These are the people who are ultimately responsible for your customer’s happiness.

Use their perspectives to better gauge the approach that you want to take to satisfy your customers. This is a formative process that allows you to look at the company as a whole and pinpoint specific pieces that allow you to figure out the company’s best alignment to deliver what is called your “brand promise.”

Shared vision
Do all of the employees know the 2007 goals? It’s the CEO’s job to set the vision, and share the goals. Creating the goals of the company and having a great marketing plan are useless in your desk drawer or attracting dust on the bookshelf. In fact, your plan should reflect the goals and vision of the company and be integrated into the daily tasks throughout the ranks.

In order to achieve a goal, you have to put some effort into it. Simply setting goals is not enough. The goals should be acknowledged and shared with everyone in order to achieve them. In addition to the overall goals of the company, each employee should have a record of their goals and objectives to check frequently and make sure that they are on the right track. Everyone is accountable.

Once you’ve been able to share and align your vision, goals and infrastructure, your brand delivery will be turbocharged and your marketing plan destined for success. Taking these steps will allow everyone to get a better grasp on your company’s direction and help motivate your employees to better address the expectations of your customers. It’s not just about having good ideas, it’s what you do with them that matters. We’re only two months into the year, so it’s not too late to take out your marketing plan from the desk drawer and start using it.

MALCOLM TEASDALE is the principal and “Big Idea Catalyst” of Teasdale Worldwide, a strategic marketing firm headquartered in Tampa, Fla. Reach him at Malcolm@TeasdaleWorldwide.com. To obtain a new direction, increase revenue, and the expertise to facilitate your customers UBAs, call Kathi Kasel at (813) 868-1520 or e-mail Kathi@MarketingofDistinction.com. To view additional articles, register at www.MalcolmOutLoud.com.