The Secret Ingredients to a Stellar 2014 Marketing Plan

It doesn't matter how busy you are. If you want to successfully market your business, you need a plan. Here's seven steps to get you there.

A lack of a marketing plan is the expanded definition of insanity: doing the same things in the new year, and expecting the same results. How would a company operate if the CFO, VP of Manufacturing, and COO operated this way? Sheer chaos would rule.

That’s why it’s important to create the environment for your plan to succeed before you write the plan. These precautions and intentional acts support a simple plan that you can share and communicate with others—especially those who may not fully understand the role and long-term value of marketing. These seven steps will help:

1. Ask questions, even if you don’t like the answers.

When was the last time you interviewed customers, team members, and executives? Consider using this framework as you conduct some fact gathering. The Performance Accelerant Model (PAM)™ is a holistic assessment tool to help CMOs immediately influence and impact the organization.

Copyright 2013, Lisa Nirell. All rights reserved

2. Rehearse how you will communicate your vision.

Can you explain it with your eyes closed? What is your physical reaction when you state it out loud? That will tell you how it will land with others.

3. Hire the right people to do the job.

Today, marketing leaders are expected to hire data scientists, content marketing experts, and online marketing gurus. Many of these positions didn’t exist three years ago. Join forces with your CMO peer group to find out what knowledge, skills and abilities they are using to define these pivotal positions.

4. Write the plan.

Your colleagues are intelligent, but they are not mind readers. Unless we write down our plans, our brains have no way of recording and filtering that information.

5. Create the structure to succeed.

This doesn’t refer only to your organization structure. It also includes how you structure your life. Do you have your refrigerator stocked with healthy foods to fuel your week? Have you delegated all non-essential tasks to experts, such as housekeepers, bookkeepers, dog walkers, etc.? Is your home set up for peaceful sleep? Every hour counts. One of my clients once ran a $5 million technology consultancy and was still doing her own bookkeeping—until she realized someone could help her for a fraction of her billable fee.

6. Incorporate past, present, and future thinking.

If you are strictly a marketing drive through window, you are probably spending over 80% of your time either fixing yesterday’s chronic problems, or making decisions about today’s issues and opportunities. That leaves you less than 20% of your day to innovate, and think about the future. If you were hired to be a firefighter, and not a fire marshal, re-think your role and your true long term value at that company.

7. Develop courage

Jeff Hayzlett, former CMO of Kodak, enlisted the help of his IT colleagues and eradicated the old, stodgy employee photos for name badges. HR was incensed, even though the name badges had not been updated in years, and reflected poorly on Kodak’s raison d’etre. He didn’t care, and he ultimately won the respect of employees.

My mentor Alan Weiss says "We’re not here to put our toe in the water; we’re here to make waves." These seven steps will ensure your Marketing Plan glides safely in 2014.

[Image: Flickr user Steven Jackson]

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