How do we create the granddaddy of marketing plans

A marketing plan is such a generic term. You will notice that each marketing function creates its own marketing plan. If you work in events, you create an event marketing plan. Same goes if you work on e-mail, you create an e-mail marketing plan. If you are a community and social media manager, you create a social media marketing plan. While events, social media, e-mail, etc. are all just channels of your company’s big marketing engine, it makes sense for each function to create its own marketing plans.

After all, it provides directions to rally all the team members towards the same goals. Before each marketing department can create its own version of a marketing plan, a higher-level strategic direction needs to be created. It’s a plan’s plan, which provides some key strategic elements to ensure everyone moves in the same direction and achieves the same business objectives.

Think of this high-level marketing plan as the granddaddy of all marketing plans. So, what does this granddaddy of a marketing plan look like? Let’s define the objective of this marketing plan first. This should be an internal document. The main goal of the master plan is to align all marketing departments within the company, including geographies. Therefore, it’s important to think with internal marketing teams’ needs in mind. This grandaddy plan should start and end with your audience in mind, yet incorporate the necessary guidance and direction for each marketing function and geographies to develop their own plan.

Here are key elements to include:

  • Business Objective: What do we want to accomplish as a company? What are sales goals and objectives?
  • Competitive landscape: What do the industry and product trends look like?
  • Audience: Who is our audience for ‘marketing’ communications? This is especially important if sales’ and marketing’s audiences are not 100% aligned.
  • Product Focus: What is the priority of products that we should market?
  • Priority Countries/Regions: Where will our focus be? This needs to align with sales.
  • Product Positioning and Messaging: Why should our audience care? Why do they need to buy from us? When they buy from us, what are they really buying?
  • Budget: What are the proposed marketing budget and allocation?
  • Guidance for each marketing department: What are some key focuses for each marketing function and geographies?
  • Success metrics: What are key metrics to measure marketing’s success?

Here are a couple of questions I get asked when I share the elements above.

Q: It sounds great in theory, but no one in my company is responsible for creating the grandaddy of marketing plans. What should I do?

A: For most companies, the elements I mentioned above are scattered around within multiple departments. It’s not unusual that no one formalizes these elements into a single document to share. There are a couple of ways to do this, depending on your job role and your company’s organizational structure. You can ask your manager to provide the information. If you know your company well, just go to various groups and ask for it.

I am always surprised by what I get when I start asking people questions within my company. In general, most people are willing to help.

To understand the industry and product competitive landscape, I find it’s super helpful talking to several sales reps and searching on Google. The sales team has plenty of information to share and the Internet is your oyster. It’s a matter of talking and researching to put all the pieces together.

Q: It’s very hard to gather all the information you talk about, what is some of the must-have information to create my own marketing plan?

A: I understand it’s time-consuming to gather all the information. It takes time and effort and we all have our day jobs to do.

At a minimal level, you need to know business objectives, target audience, product focus, product messaging and positioning and budget.

Once you have that information, you will find it’s easy to create any departmental or geo marketing plans.

Q: When is the best time to do this?

A: If your company has a planning process, I’d recommend that you tap into the existing planning process.

Start anytime. It’s never too late to plan and get everyone aligned.

Q: My company is a big enterprise and we have multiple product lines, it’s not possible to create the granddaddy of marketing plans.

A: You need to scope it to specific products or industries. I work at a big company myself. I’m not able to create the overall grandaddy of marketing plans, but I scope it to the primary products that my group will focus on. We all know our jobs well. We don’t need a marketing plan to tell us what to do. However, a good marketing plan bridges what we communicate and helps our target audiences with the business objectives we are trying to accomplish.


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