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5 Keys to Successfully Implementing Your Marketing Plan

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graph-team-buildingYou’ve done your work, spent the time, and cranked out a great strategic marketing plan, well done. Pat yourself on the back and take a deep breath, because only half the work is done. Implementation can be just as daunting as putting together the strategic marketing plan itself. Without successful implementation the best plan becomes useless. This short article will outline 5 key steps to successfully implementing a strategic marketing plan.

First Things First

Let’s clearly get a hold of what implementation entails. In a most technical sense it involves managing change. A strategic marketing plan is nothing more than a set of actions geared at change, augmentation, and modification. These changes fall into two broad areas.

  1. Organizational &Procedural: things like products, work routines, how things are done, what is done, what is emphasized, etc.
  2. Behavioral & Attitudinal: things like beliefs, orientation, thinking, skills, routines, etc.

The key word is change, and as we all know change in any organization can be an uphill battle. That is why as we start to lay down keys to successful implementation of a strategic marketing plan, we will have to make certain assumptions about the plan itself.

We will assume that your strategic marketing plan was created using best practices. Our assumptions about your plan include:

  • Company Communication: a plan conceived without consulting each department or relevant persons is asking for disaster. It is always best practice to get the input off all relevant departments when creating a strategic marketing plan. This is will reduce errors, decrease future resistance to change, and provide insight into the dynamics of how the company operates.
  • Strong Foundation: a plan should start first with the company mission and business statements and seek to fulfill those sentiments. If it sticks to these values and positions then all parties in the company should have no problem going along with it. If they did have issue, they would have issue with the very fabric of what the company exists for.
  • Top Management Support: a plan should have participation and support of top management and leaders in the company. Without their full support, implementation across the organization is next to impossible. This means the plans in its infancy was in part created with top managers and leaderships input.
  • Resources: if the company does not have the resources to carry out the plan then needless to say implementation will be compromised. A good plan is developed with a good understanding of company resources. This means it was created with intimate knowledge of the financial background and future plans already in place.

There are more things that go into best practices when creating a solid strategic marketing plan, but these are among the top pitfalls.

Key 1: Give the Glory to Top Management

Top management ultimately is the most influential part to successful implementation. They control the purse strings, how things are done, attitudes and beliefs, and most importantly the direction the company.

Without their full and complete support the plan will have serious hurdles to overcome. Give the glory and duty to top management to disseminate the plan. Tasks that top management are essential to include:

  1. Communicating to entire company
  2. Allocating resources to carry out plan
  3. Influence beliefs and attitudes as to why the plan is important
  4. Mediate power struggles or conflicts
  5. Etc.

If we followed best practices and included top management in the design and planning phases, then implementation is the next step of an ongoing process. The more top management is involved and tied to the plan, the more they will contribute to the plans ultimate success. In a nut shell, they have married the plan and will work like hell to make sure it works.

Key 2: Know Everyone’s Role

The second step to a successful implementation is to know everyone’s role in the plan and how they are involved. Top managers are privy to the whole plan as they disseminate the organizational and behavioral change outlined in the plan. Department heads do not need the whole plan. They need to understand their duties and requirements outlined in the plan. Employees and further down the ladder do not need the entire plan. They need a set of guidelines to influence behavioral & procedural shifts.

The main point here is, that if you give people more to handle and process than their pay grade, they will ultimately implode. Give them a vision and tasks to match what they are capable of. This empowers the individual to work with purpose towards realistic and achievable goals. This intimately ties each person and group in the company to the role they play.

This means you should not make 500 copies of the plan and start handing them out in company mailboxes. Keep it hush, secret, and for higher up eyes only. The stated above advantages are also supplemented by the psychological ramifications of keeping things lock and key. People will want what they can’t have. Simple human nature, unfold it slowly, leak some key parts here and there. Besides it is a huge security risk to have your plan in too many hands.

Key 3: Goal Setting

In implementing the plan special care must be given to developing a scheduling and task system to measure intermittent success. By intermittent we mean that if the ultimate goal of the plan was to increase sales by 24% over an 8 month period, we need a way to check our success. Maybe weekly as it relates to our core objective.

Top managers should create step by step tasks and completion dates that department heads can evaluate and disseminate to personnel to keep all parties on track. The method that is done will vary depending on the organization, but creating routine personnel meetings, developing committees, setting up goal and time tracking processes, etc. are all part of making sure everyone is working to meet the plans objectives.

Key 4: Feedback & Training

Hitting goals is a lot easier if everyone is on the same page by developing skill sets, beliefs, and procedures needed to implement the plan. It is up to top management to setup training and informational sessions that will help personnel groups’ meet goals, and stay motivated.

Motivation is one the biggest concerns going forward. By staying motivated employee groups are more effective in every capacity. Motivation of company members can be facilitated by

  • Getting them involved: make them feel like they are a part of the process.
  • Present things in terms that motivate them: if your staff is motivated my profit speak in those terms. If staff is motivated by security, comfort, giving, respect, loyalty, etc. speak to those values and how working the plan will help them meet these values.

The training and information disseminated will also create a great opportunity for feedback which will help with the next key step to successful implementation.

Key 5: Strategic Marketing Plan Calibration

Many times a strategic marketing plan is implemented with initial gusto, but not evaluated and calibrated along the way to meet the changing landscape and newly gathered information. This can lead to a plan becoming obsolete and met with resistance within the company, causing disillusion.

You can offset this process by emphasizing that the plan be a living document. It will grow, change, and calibrate upon feedback from personnel, department heads, and real world results. The feedback from various parts of the company will reinvigorate the plans objectives, because real time feedback is facilitating information flow. Information flow is like blood in the veins; when it flows, the business remains healthy. Developing methods to collect and analyze information is beyond this article but one should always be looking for ways to tweak the current plan. Things change, assumptions prove to be wrong, so adaptability is key to successful implementation.

Implementation is not easy and takes a certain amount of dedication regardless of company size. Conceiving the plan using best practices helps because many hurdles have already been jumped like getting all parties input. Getting top management involved early is a top most priority. Developing key goals, tracking, and feedback systems will help the plan meet its desired results. Last but not least creating processes to continually evaluate and update the plan will ensure its remains relevant. Successfully implement your plan by following the 5 steps listed.

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