The three biggest mistakes in marketing planning

Marketing consultant and trainer for our marketing planning workshop, Luan Wise, shares three common mistakes B2B marketers make in the marketing planning process.

#1 “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”

The first mistake is, of course, failing to even have a marketing plan!

A marketing plan is one of the most important business tools to guide your business growth.

The time taken to understand and analyse your market place, your customer’s needs and wants, knowing who your competitors are, and what they are doing is time well-spent as this information gathering becomes the important link between the strategic direction of the business and the delivery of results.

In the current Covid-19 world, any marketing plans you had prepared need to be reviewed as it’s highly unlikely they included a scenario for a global pandemic and world in lockdown.

The impending economic recession is forcing many businesses to revisit their strategic plans, ‘pivot’ their product and service offerings, and in turn marketing plans need to be updated to re-align with the new direction. Consumer behaviours have also changed significantly during lockdown from where they work to how they shop, and the products/services they buy.

A marketing plan provides focus and enables you to manage resources effectively – another important factor in the Covid-19 world when marketing budgets are being cut by their highest levels in more than 20 years, according to the latest IPA Bellweather report.

#2 The second mistake is to dive straight into tactics

It’s all too easy to dive straight into thinking about what information needs to go on a flyer, or what posts are needed for social media but it’s also a mistake to dive into thinking about tactics without considering the big picture and the problem (or opportunity) that needs to be solved.

Marketing teams are often asked to create marketing materials, whereas the real question should be ‘I have this problem (or opportunity), can you help me achieve these objectives, please’.

If marketers are briefed with tactics, they too need to take responsibility and respond with the right questions to uncover the real requirements, and not dive into asking how many flyers are needed, and by when.

The first section of your marketing plan requires information gathering to build a detailed situational analysis. This is the time to revisit the traditional marketing planning tools that are still relevant in the digital age. Yes, a SWOT and PESTLE analysis is a key part of any marketing planning workshop or consultancy project. They provide insights and direction for selecting the right tactics for the brief. Strategy first, then planning, then tactics – that’s the correct order.

#3 The third is not being SMART

The objective setting part of a marketing plan must be SMART. When objectives include the following five criteria you will have a greater focus on what you need to achieve, and be able to track your progress along the way.

  • Specific – state what you’ll do, using action words
  • Measurable – provide a way to evaluate, using metrics or data targets
  • Achievable – ensure your plan is within your scope and possible to achieve
  • Relevant – does your plan make sense within your business and improve your business in some way?
  • Time-bound – state when you’ll get it done and be specific on a date or time-frame

For example:

  • ‘To create more awareness about our products’ is not SMART.
  • ‘To reach 1,000 new ideal customers with information about product X between September and December 2020’ is a SMART objective.

It’s another example of going back to marketing basics, but it’s also critical to ensure you will have a marketing plan that will get results for your business.