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Elizabeth Sutherland Elizabeth Sutherland
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The Marketing Edge - A year of action plans

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If you are anything like me, you’ve spent a fair amount of time of the past few weeks reading other people’s thoughts, wishes, and goals for the new year. I like everything I read. And I want to jump on board with every bold goal, idea and vision.

(Well, except for Whole30. I’m not giving up bread or ice cream. Just not going to do it.)

But the harsh reality is that many of those good intentions for 2019 are going to remain unfulfilled. It’s not because of a lack of desire, but a lack of being intentional.

I regularly have conversations with business leaders looking for marketing help because their business growth is hindered by scattershot marketing. They have the right budget, the right goals and a great team on the ground. They get derailed, however, when it comes to realizing measurable results.

It’s not a lack of knowing what they want. It’s a lack of having actionable plans to get there.

As part of working with companies to assure they are persuasive and prepared, we often tell clients that we need to “go slow to go fast,” Instead of just jumping into a new marketing effort, it’s important to thoughtfully plan the action steps. It’s not difficult to build an actual plan. But it’s super hard to not forgo the planning in exchange for the excitement of seeing a new television ad developed or a new blog launched. Whether part of the marketing team, or the business owner, or both, it’s our job to be more than just creative. We need to nurture the patience required to develop key insights before we start taking action.

In late 2017, Cary and I worked with our senior management team here at Sutherland Weston to do just that — thoughtfully plan — for ourselves. We created a comprehensive plan with six goals and outlined action plans for each. As 2018 came to a close, we had accomplished four of our six goals. While not at 100 percent, we feel pretty good about our achievements. Those four goals wouldn’t have happened without following our action plans. And because of the action plans, we can track exactly where, when, and why the other two goals didn’t happen.

This year, I encourage you to join us and challenge yourself and your team to create an action plan (or plans) designed to achieve your goals.

Plans don’t have to be complicated. They don’t need to be lengthy. But do make them intentional. Take a bit of time to determine what steps are necessary to achieve your marketing success. And then create your plan.

  •      We recommend action plans be simple and easy to update. You don’t need fancy software; a Google or Excel spreadsheet or even just a word document will do.
  •      Be sure to put your overall goal at the top. It helps to remind yourself of the desired end result.
  •      Add whatever information makes sense to you — but be sure to include a space for each general task, a timeline (with start and end dates) and the person responsible for getting it done.
  •      Finally, don’t just make the plan. Track it. Be sure to schedule regular check ins with your team to assure that your plan is moving forward.

If we can assist you with your planning, reach out. We’re happy to help.

(Elizabeth Sutherland is a partner in Sutherland Weston.)

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