Planning and implementation are 2 essential elements for any business wanting sustainable marketing success. So why is it, when looking for support with marketing, options for planning and implementation are so often separated? In over 30 years working with SME businesses, I have seen a constant; there are consultants/coaches/mentors etc. who will help you plan, and marketing service suppliers (print/digital/design/communication etc.) who will help you action, yet finding a genuinely joined-up combination is remarkably rare. There are certainly planners who purport to get involved with implementation. Even more so, there are implementers who purport to get involved with planning. However, when you look under the skin they are almost always one or the other! It is something I think about regularly so here is my take on why I think it happens…
Marketing is speculative
Whether we like it or not, marketing is speculative. You commit resources with service suppliers now in the hope/expectation of benefit later. A good personal relationship, based on confidence is extremely valuable when you want to discuss outcomes and plan future action. With business services suppliers, relationships with the people you work with is no less important than outcomes, SMEs like dealing with SMEs. Big companies can (sometimes!) be good at delivering value in a mass commoditised market. When things get more subjective, having someone with experience, who you know and trust, to talk with is extremely appealing.
Logic suggests that the ideal service partner would be a personable, effective and experienced member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing who is also a graphic designer, copywriter, web coder and an expert in data management, SEO, PPC and Social Media. I don't know about you but I haven't met them yet!
Back to reality
The focus of many marketing service partners tends either planning or action. This is where their strengths and experience lie – and hopefully what they enjoy doing! Furthermore, whether you are looking at planning or implementation, it isn’t a case of ‘one size fits all’. We all have our own strengths and weaknesses. Working with people who play to their strengths is normally the best formula for success.
Open Partnerships – What good looks like
Over the past few years, BSA has developed partnerships where we work as a team with other people/businesses. We work together to help our SME clients achieve their goals. I believe these partnerships deliver remarkable value to our joint customers. We are proud of the fact that these team relationships sustain for years. Key to this success is the openness of the partnerships. There is no expectation when any partner starts working with a client that there will be opportunity for another partner. Maybe there will and maybe there won’t. the aim is always giving the best advice and support for the client’s needs. A cohort of solid business and marketing expertise which is known, trusted and respected, coupled with an entirely client-benefit focused approach means that decisions on the best approach are more objective. Plans get the resource to make sure they are effectively implemented and implementation is based on an independently considered approach using the best tools to achieve the client objectives. The approach also delivers unrivalled flexibility. As I said, we all have our strengths and weaknesses. By having the option to call on specialists, there is no need to rely on someone just because it is who you know. Even better, the development of the genuine client-centred approach can be highly cost effective as it is in the interest of the whole partnership to deliver economically sustainable results which mean that everyone wants the process to continue! If you would like to find out more about open partnerships to help integrate planning and implementation to drive your business forward, do get in touch.