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Everyone’s dream is to find that one thing they’re most passionate about and turn it into a full-time job. The lucky few who found it are now starting to realize that it’s harder than they thought. For one, every growing company needs a bulletproof marketing strategy to strive in any industry. More and more people are self-learning what a marketing strategy means, or hire a marketing intern to help them put it together effectively. Another great path is enrolling in a short course that can teach you the basics of marketing. That way you’ll know how to get started, and once a marketing manager comes on board, you’ll still be able to oversee their tasks. The strategy part of a marketing plan entails your personal plan of action. It includes excessive research and a carefully built, logical structure. There are companies that can stay afloat without it, but companies that follow a detailed marketing plan have competitive advantages. They’re able to operate more smoothly and efficiently, and they have a clearer vision of what they want to achieve, by when, how, and what that’ll cost.
After creating your bulletproof marketing strategy, in theory, it’s time to implement all of that information into action. And this is called the “marketing execution”. By the time you get to the marketing execution, you’ve researched everything you need, you’ve created a tight timeframe for your professional goals and projects, and you’ve jotted down your S.M.A.R.T. goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound). But without a marketing execution plan, all of these carefully put-together details will be left collecting dust.
Marketing Vs. Advertising
When talking about a marketing strategy, and more importantly the execution plan, it’s important to know the difference between marketing and advertising. A lot of people mistake one for the other or think that they’re synonyms. And although sometimes they do act like synonyms depending on the context, other times, interchanging the two is a major error.
Simply put, marketing includes all forms of advertising but takes it further. Every form of advertising is marketing, but marketing isn’t a form of advertising. It includes the specific research and financial planning it takes to serve the ads properly, the pricing of the products in a competitive manner, and the monitoring of efficiency in all respects. Advertising, on the other hand, is solely the act of a company paying to get a message in front of a target audience.
As consumers, we’re more familiar with advertising, while marketing is mostly known by everyone behind these ads. It’s the final product of a marketing strategy, and anything before or after the advertising act belongs to marketing. These can be utilizing new statistics, prolonging the running of an ad, calculating investments, profits, and losses, and so on.
What is a Marketing Execution Plan?
By definition, marketing execution is what turns the marketing strategy into reality. If the marketing strategy was your plan of action, the execution is the action. A proper execution plan will let everyone in the company know:
- What the goal is
- What their task is
- What goal each project serves
- The timeframe they have for each assigned project
Creating this plan means that everyone involved will be focused on these projects, and hopefully motivated to do their best, because after all, they will have every and all information they need to succeed. It will help you stay on top of all marketing activities without falling into the details, or neglecting important steps or projects.
A bulletproof marketing execution plan has 4 stages: plan, execute, track, and measure.
The planning phase of the execution is the most similar to creating the strategy itself. It is the roadmap for achieving your goals in a timely manner. It details all marketing activities and projects you will do in the next few months. It also helps you understand how these projects and activities support each other and the company. It’s smart to review this part of the plan at least quarterly, to make sure nothing has drastically changed, or to add new projects into the mix. This theoretical plan will lead to your final action plan, which will further specify your outcome-based, marketing, and financial goals linked to the projects you’ve prioritized.
During the planning process, you’ll need to consider and define which team members will be assigned to which projects. When thinking about and mapping out all projects for the upcoming quarter, it’s the perfect opportunity to connect each project and activity to people on your team. Consider their skill-set, their workload, their motivations, and try to assign each project to the perfect employee who will execute it in the highest possible quality.
When you’re done with your plan, and you’ve assigned each project to a little team, it’s time for the creative brief. This will allow everyone involved in the marketing strategy to know the ultimate goal, and what other projects are active parallel to their own. This is important when trying to explain the overall goal of the strategy. It will paint a better picture for everyone, and they’ll possibly be even more motivated to execute their part after knowing their part in the bigger picture.
A creative brief will also answer a lot of questions your team might have. To get most of the inevitable questions out of the way, here are some general points to include in the creative brief:
- Project summary: one or two sentences about the entire project. Because it’s recommended to have every single person in this meeting, you can choose to go over each smaller project as well, but generally, this point is about the marketing strategy itself.
- Target audience: you should only have one target audience, so this information is important for everyone in the room. This is basically the person you want to reach. This is the person everyone involved is “talking to”.
- The problem you want to solve with this strategy (this can be anything from attracting more people to making more money)
- The goal of the strategy
- Necessary steps to complete the projects
- Who’s involved in which project
- Timeline for each project (from start to finish)
- Budget and resources provided for each project
This is the part where you’ll begin to see the fruits of your labour. Once you start taking action and executing, each plan, project, and activity will fall into place, and you’ll finally see what each of them provides. It’s important to follow through, whatever the results of each project are.
The execution is everything that happens on the playing field. You can think of the execution part as the “sprint” and the “marathon”. The sprint is each little task and action. It’s anything you can do within a two-week period. You need to get that done quickly and efficiently. The marathon, on the other hand, is the bigger picture. The entire marketing strategy that you should never lose sight of.
There are a few ways a person can be on top of all these projects. Two great tools that almost all successful people use are:
- Blocking out time in your calendar to work on anything and everything related to the marketing strategy. This depends on the time you want to spend on this project, but most people block out a small chunk of their time each day (like an hour). This time should be treated as a meeting. Shut off your phone, don’t look at your emails, and focus on and commit to working on the marketing projects. These little appointments will become natural after a while, and after a couple of weeks, they will be more and more productive.
- Get a partner. This partner doesn’t have to be a marketing specialist either. Working alone places the risks even higher, as you’re more likely to forget things, get scattered, neglect projects, or work overtime all the time. Have someone take the load off and even hold you accountable.
- Create a marketing calendar. This can be shared or private, but it’s there once again, to hold you accountable. This is another tool that lowers the risks of getting sloppy, forgetting, or neglecting a project. Anything from a Facebook status update to a full-on advertising campaign should be there, and it’s best to share it with others involved.
Some people use a checklist or a work management software instead of the calendar, while others even use all three. It’s up to you what feels natural and helpful, but it may take a while to determine which of these works for you. You have to keep an open mind when it comes to the tiny details because chances are you’re going to be changing these details later on.
Track & Measure
Tracking and measuring go hand-in-hand. Tracking is the act of literally tracking your results. Keep tabs on all running projects and constantly collect data. Digital marketing makes this much easier nowadays, so if you find the right software, you won’t even have to do a thing. Tracking is useful in marketing projects, but also as an everyday tool that tracks your website’s traffic, keyword rankings, email opens, etc. This will help you determine what’s working, and what needs a little more work.
This brings us to measure. Measuring your marketing is key to seeing what works and what doesn’t. If you think back to the sprint vs. marathon analogy from earlier, measuring should be a part of the sprints. This “two-week sprint model” encourages constant and continuous feedback, so be active about it. By looking through the data collected over a two-week period, you can pinpoint the areas that are running smoothly and those that aren’t. Although your goal remains intact, this information can help adjust and improve your performance or tactics.
There are several ways to measure your marketing, including many types of key performance indicators (KPIs) that you can use to measure effectiveness. If you have a small website, you might want to stick to measuring website traffic, visitor to lead conversions, and cost per lead. These can be easily implemented into your marketing campaigns. However, when it comes to finances, return on investment (ROI) is a better measurement, as it shows exactly what each project or campaign is contributing to your revenue.
Taking anything from theory to practice is hard and overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you know exactly what you’re doing and why you need to do it. With a solid written marketing strategy and these 4 stages of execution, nothing will stop you. The most important thing is to stay on top of all projects, and if you can’t seem to handle it, get a partner to help you and you’ll be alright.