In his post What do you want from your marketing?’ David discussed the importance of taking a long term, process-focused view of Marketing. Looking at what you are trying to achieve in business, rather than at the more immediate issues marketing issues:
- Building a new website
- Getting to the top of Google
- Sorting out my social media
Whilst looking longer-term is a sound approach, it does raise a couple of issues:
- The approach takes time, and so needs to be managed
- The ultimate goal is a long-term one, consequently, it can be more difficult to measure the day to day
The answer is planning. Having a process through the year to manage this complexity, and to ensure that you remain on the right track.
Marketing Planning – The BSA Way
As we always try to practice what we preach, I decided to look at how BSA Marketing manages this complexity. Something we do through a planning process that has three elements:
Once a year, we go away for a working weekend. The aim of this time is to give space to allow ‘Big picture’ thinking. It is this activity that too often gets drowned out by the ongoing business of the day today.
The objectives of our annual planning are:
- Review our long terms goals (financial & otherwise). Are they still relevant and what progress has been made over the last 12 months?
- Set long term objectives for the year – Where is the focus to be over the coming 12 months?
- Create a broad action plan to deliver these objectives.
Out of this session will come a document that describes the direction of travel for the business, and the planned objectives and activities for the next 12 months, and beyond.
On the back of the annual planning meeting, we meet monthly to review where we are. The objective here is to reflect on the big picture plan and to create and review more immediate action plans that are going to bring the big picture to fruition:
- Review financial performance, are we on track?
- Review activities, are these happening as planned, and are they delivering the expected short term results?
- Is there anything that has arisen that will impact the plans/direction of travel agreed at the start of the year?
It is during these meetings that, as appropriate, we manage/review the marketing activities (website/social media/search marketing) that ultimately drive us towards our long term objectives.
The final piece of the jigsaw is a weekly review meeting focusing on the day to day. Establishing what are the priorities for the coming week. One objective here is to keep the meeting focused and short so that, given its frequency, it does not become a distraction.
It is at this point the planning within BSA meets the activities that we are undertaking for clients, as this element of the planning process is aligned with our weekly client review. In this way, the BSA marketing process is fully embedded into day to day management processes.
A Sustainable Process
Any planning process needs to be sustainable. Only then is it likely to keep going and become a core part of managing a business.
For us, this sustainability comes from having a structured process that punctuates the business year.
Regular weekly and monthly meetings are kept short and focused. Where possible, embedding them into everyday processes. The annual planning is deliberately taken out of the routine, making it an event in itself. Done correctly, the big-picture planning weekend highlights the progress that has been made, allows us to set clear plans for future progress, and is also very enjoyable!