Blue Ocean Marketing COO, Management Consultant, Founding Partner and all around smart guy Henrik Arlund recently presented to a group of budding marketing talent on creating great marketing strategies. The purpose wasn't to showcase complex analysis and plans, nor to discuss current marketing trends or the next big platform. The purpose was to educate on implementation through a strategic process. That sounds a little boring but it is vitally important and the key ingredient to creating a Great marketing strategy and not just a marketing plan.
The feedback received after the presentation led us to believe a wider audience might also appreciate the learning. So read on, watch - or save for later - to find out how you can start creating GREAT marketing strategies.
Creating great marketing strategies is a process - a mix of art and science. Before you jump in to fantastic storytelling, creative campaigns, and social media magic, take the time to understand the process.
Process adds order to chaos, and is the method to the madness. Any task can be broken down into these three steps:
Add some discipline to your thinking, both as an individual and as a team, and take the time before acting to set the groundwork. If you don't know why you are doing something - ask;
1. What am I doing.
2. Why am I doing it.
3. When will I do it.
4. How will I know what success looks like.
Imagine a sailing ship. Without a compass or set of directions, a ship could go just about anywhere before arriving somewhere. However, if the ship has a set direction and a clear vision of where they want to go, they can chart their course and arrive where they need to be. Your marketing strategy is the same. Again this isn't a plan that says which post goes where and the dates of your next campaign. It aligns the reasoning behind choosing to do that campaign, why create those posts. What do you need to achieve with your activities and resources and how do you know if you succeeded or failed.
An important question to ask is how do you measure success? How do you know when the job is done? By understanding this, you can chart your course to execute the marketing strategy with the finish line in sight. Remember "a Job well started is a job half finished".
A statement of strategy distils purpose, goals, objectives and value into one statement that serves to align actions to achieve a common goal.
A statement of strategy should be known by everyone in the company. This creates a shared understanding of who the customer is, what the product is, why the organisation exists, who competitors are and what is the single greatest claim to support this.
When you have your SOS documented you have the basis for your 'why' when creating a GREAT marketing strategy that serves the greater goals and objective of your organisation.
Here’s an example of a statement of strategy from Hubspot for Coca-Cola.
For individuals looking for high-quality beverages, Coca-Cola offers a wide range of the most refreshing options -- each creates a positive experience for customers when they enjoy a Coca-Cola brand drink. Unlike other beverage options, Coca-Cola products inspire happiness and make a positive difference in customers' lives, and the brand is intensely focused on the needs of consumers and customers.
Try creating your own statement of strategy using this framework:
You don't need to take this journey on your own. Depending on where you are at within the organisation it might be best to talk to the top and take this journey together. It is a great learning curve to distill down what is really important.
So lets assume we have a statement of strategy. We understand why we are doing what we do, we know what we want to achieve - let's get it done.
As marketers we work fast and our environment is dynamic. We tend to want to drive action and get things done as soon as possible seizing opportunities alongside the sales team. This is because executing provides instant satisfaction - checking off the 'to-do' list to attain results, unlike the perception of time spent planning.
However, it is more effective to execute a plan when you have mapped what you want to achieve and where you are going. That is why it is important not to move on to doing (including delegating) until you fully understand the situation and can translate that to others.
To execute the plan, you need SMART objectives. SMART objectives are:
Specific: your goal should answer what you want to accomplish, why, who is involved, where it is located and which resources and limits are involved.
Measurable: it is important you can track progress and stay motivated by ensuring your objectives can be measured.
Achievable: your objectives should stretch your abilities but still remain possible.
Realistic: your goal should seem worthwhile and match your other efforts and needs.
Timely: goals need target dates so you have a deadline to focus on and something to work towards
A few examples of SMART goals;
A great brief is the secret sauce in marketing implementation. The purpose (or why) should be the driving force behind your brief, backed up by data and finished off with expectations. The more you know about the why, what and how of your campaign, the more guidance you will have during the campaign execution process. It becomes a decision making roadmap, not only for you, but for all involved. This helps you work smarter and achieve results aligned with objectives.
Whether your campaign is created for maximum reach, engagement, clicks to your website or direct dollar value, your expectations need to be identified upfront. Every brief should start with outlining the objective and expected results. Following this, determine the tactics of the campaign.
“However beautiful the strategy, you must occasionally look at the results.” - Churchill.
After implementing your marketing strategy, all of your efforts need to be evaluated by this one simple question: did we do well? You can only answer this question if you can compare what you did to what you expected – outlined in the understand phase.
Failure is okay. Failure can reflect setting objectives that weren’t SMART. Perhaps your objectives were realistic but not timely? Perhaps your objectives were measurable but not realistic. Failure is okay as long as you learn from it.
Sometimes campaigns surprise you. You may have expected a great reach and not achieve it. Or perhaps you expected a smaller campaign to not drive results and it was your most successful campaign to date. Unexpected results happen all the time – that is why analysing results is so important.
After Action Reviews are a great way to evaluate how things went and even more importantly what you can takeaway from these results. After Action Reviews come from the US Navy. Even if your marketing plan was executed flawlessly with great results, an After Action Review is vital to determine what exactly caused you to succeed and how you can replicate these results in the future.
We are on the receiving end of this question often. Strategic processes feel so intangible possibly even 'airy fairy' but how do you act, what are you going to achieve and how are you going to get there is the basis of strategy and Franky, how can you operate effectively without it?
We think this sums it up nicely...
Use this handy checklist to align your organisation and team when developing your strategies. You will find you become more effective, more efficient and when your team knows 'why' they will definitely deliver the 'what'. Remember if actual results don't match expected results it isn't a failure, it's an opportunity to learn, review your process, make amendments if required and move on. If you follow this strategic process and you fail, you will fail fast and be able to reduce the impact.
Conversely if you succeed and expected outcomes are met you can repeat at scale!