Planning for Success: 3 Principles of Writing a Brilliant Marketing Plan

Brian Bennett

STIR | President
May 18

Many marketing managers are at a loss as to how to incorporate new messaging methods.

They know the tried and true methods of marketing their brand and/or company may now be obsolete. They hear about many new methods of marketing but are rightfully suspicious of fads and trends in web and social marketing. They know certain elements are credible, yet have no track record with the techniques which represent incremental cost and risk. They want to build their brand, but aren’t sure where to start when incorporating new marketing strategies.

Develop a plan

It starts with a brilliant plan.  A solid plan will identify new business-building opportunities. It will revitalize the brand story. It will increase engagement with your consumer and relevance of your creative message.

Whether you are the CMO at a major corporation or you are an entrepreneur, you are responsible for the commitment of critical resources – cash, people and time – and you will be held accountable to the results. You need to craft a smart marketing plan before you spend. That marketing plan is, in many ways, the future of your company.  It must be brilliant.

Take a fresh look

Shooting from the hip or doing what’s been done in the past make for a short career in marketing. The communications world and consumer marketplace change too rapidly to get away with that. In the era of micro-marketing there is even more need for integrated strategic planning. This ensures that only the most productive means are used to reach the highest priority audiences. You need to take a fresh look at your industry to craft a vision for the future.

Apply a new approach to planning

As you sit down to the daunting task of crafting a new course for your brand and your company, you may find you don’t have the time or resources to take the classic textbook approach to marketing planning.

Open a marketing textbook or downloaded a marketing plan template and you’ll find the old, top-down marketing plan format that includes the formal processes:

  • Review all sales and earnings data
  • Pull secondary research on the industry
  • Do a competitive analysis
  • Develop SWAT matrices
  • Build bubble charts, Venn diagram and bar graphs, etc.

What often results are voluminous books of data and endless formal objectives and strategies.

Unfortunately many classically developed, well-researched plans result in the status quo.  This is because all the research and analysis in the world will not necessarily generate a valuable new insight or a courageous break from corporate culture.

Establish Guiding Principles

Long-form planning does have merit, but there are times you need to cut to the chase. Here are three guiding principles to this planning process:

  1. CHALLENGE INPUT AND ASSUMPTIONS. A brilliant plan must be built upon strong insights and input. Take this opportunity to reassess what you know about your / your client’s company. Get a fresh perspective. As hard as it may be, look at your company and the industry like a newcomer. (This is the benefit of bringing in an outside agency or consultant – particularly one from outside the industry.)
  2. PROBE. You are looking for strong logical links to lay down core strategies.  Opportunity often resides behind disconnected or an undeserving assumptions — often the unwritten “rules” of the industry. These are insights that can lead to a strong new marketing idea. When you find a curiosity, chase it down.
  3. USE THE K.I.S.S. RULE. Think in terms of big broad concepts. Take a complex situation and make it simple. Write a simple statement, no more than fifty words summarizing your observations.

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