By Dave Howell
Company leaders and marketers all fail on strategy. I’m not saying everyone is a failure, what I mean is that all of us tend towards the tactical, and avoid the “long pole in the tent”, or even ignore the “elephant in the room”.
With the complexities of companies, structures, business models, customer savvy and marketing plans that need to sync all of these components up is a tall order. As much as we’d like to think it is too complex, I challenge that thinking. My perspective is that it is never more important than now than to break things down to their simplest form and understand what the customer is asking for and needs. Your business better be designed around this component first, or else you’ll be one of the Fortune 500 companies that went bankrupt last year.
In marketing, reality often falls short of what would be ideally strategic. This forces me to be a proponent of fact-based decision making which ordinarily accompanies planning. If we plan our work and work our plan we establish the strategic and execute the tactical, meeting the customer’s needs simple!
I heard recently that up to 40 percent of all measures planned are never executed because underlying assumptions turn out to be wrong or material or human resources designated for a campaign are no longer available. This planning gap may have occurred as a result of some of the following reasons:
• Failure to plan for human capital needs.
• Failure to adapt to market changes using SWOT.
• Increasing complexity of organizational structures and processes in marketing making it difficult to manage the customer to their satisfaction.
• Lack of feedback as to which measures have contributed to what extent to achieving a campaign’s objectives.
• Insufficient information leading to inaccurate estimates of resources needed.
• A lack of meaningful, reliable data and balancing this against objectivity of budgeting by a 3rd party such as the CFO or controller, as planners resort to the previous year’s figures, gut feeling or generic corporate guidelines.
• Poor project management – unawareness of consequences of missed deadlines, and of how to deal with additional requirements.
• Leader waffling – waning decision-making confidence when basic conditions such as budgets, competition or demand change.
• Lack of technical integration between strategy, planning and evaluation. As marketers mainly rely on PowerPoint and Excel, a switch between media becomes inevitable when turning promotional plans into action.
For the purposes of this article I’d like to draw your attention to reason number 1 – YOU! Notice the “Lack of technical integration between strategy, planning and evaluation…” You can’t make excuses because you haven’t implemented or reasoned out the customer needs and the resulting actions. I don’t care whether it is a thought process, an EXCEL spreadsheet, VISIO, or any tool you’d like to rely on or use as a crutch.
You are accountable to your CEO or President. He or she hired you to get the job done, not them – they hired you because you have the skills to problem solve, investigate and make decisions which will grow the revenue stream by understanding and executing processes to the customers needs.
I have written in past articles about the use of strategic planning, management control plans, scorecards, and action plans as tools to plan and execute with, and I have also written about unifying communications internally and externally around your brand. The 5-7 objectives this year make up your brand so get with it and stop blaming everyone else.
In closing let me leave you with clarity of thought, “marketers must ensure the brand alignment, the strategy to achieve it, meeting the customer’s needs, and the execution through proper planning”.
If you need help aligning your company, please call me at 210-618-6566 or request an appointment at www.bpmktg.com.