Guest post by Dean Kaplan.
As a business owner, I really enjoy working with my marketing team. I find their creativity and flexibility to be inspiring and they work hard to develop great strategic plans with detailed timelines. But we all know that sometimes schedules go off the tracks and I admit that often it’s due to company leaders like me who face hectic schedules and other operational demands.
So in order to implement the most successful marketing strategy and generate a good return for your investment, I’d like to suggest five things business owners should discuss with their marketing teams (as well as outside agencies and consultants) to keep their plan on track.
Determine Scope and Realistic Objectives
Once we agree on a general direction for a marketing plan, make sure to understand the ultimate objectives and set targets accordingly. Having a clear vision of strategies and tactics and how they tie back to your objectives will help when you need to approve a piece of writing or social media content. Also, recognize that your budget determines scope. You may want to introduce your product or service to a new market as well as increase your business with existing customers, but your budget doesn’t allow for both—so set your priorities.
Determine the best metrics to measure success. For example, when you revamp a website, what can be expected in terms of where this plan is taking the company? How can senior executives understand if it’s going to help the business head in the right direction? What’s the expected impact on search engine traffic, unique visitors and conversion and bounce rates?
How is that new social media marketing campaign improving customer service and customer engagement? Setting a clear roadmap marked by appropriate measurements using the best analytics tools will ensure ongoing confidence in the marketing recommendations.
Be Clear About What You Need
Do you require old logos or access to social media accounts? Make a list of all must-haves before you can start our project and everything you’ll need along the way and then share that list. Also, make sure to tell me if my not providing you with something is holding things up. I promise you, I’m not withholding information or materials because I want things to be slower, I probably just don’t know what you need or that you need it by Tuesday.
Likewise, tell me WHO I need to bring to meetings. If you’re expecting to present something and get it approved that day, let me know that the final decision makers need to be in the room or on the call. If you don’t tell me, I might send the wrong people and hold things up.
Maintain Open Lines of Communication
Getting company leadership approvals and input can be one of the most challenging parts of executing a marketing plan. From my own experience, it’s often because I’m traveling or in meetings and don’t have time to respond as quickly as I’d like. That means that I’m counting on the marketing team to set up a regular system of communications that incorporates the methods that I like best. For me, it’s an email touch-base weekly, but for other business owners it might be a weekly status report, telephone call, or using a project management tool. Senior leaders should work together with marketing staff to determine the best communications approach early on to avoid problems later.
Help Keep Me on Track
Because business owners manage a multitude of responsibilities, it can be hard for marketing teams to get the approvals they need in a timely fashion.
That’s why it’s important for marketing staff to know that it’s okay to remind business owners about deadlines or even to say “no” when a new marketing idea is proposed in the “eleventh hour.” In fact, the best way to tell me no might be to make me think it’s my idea. “Those are great ideas, but if we add them on now we’ll be behind with our plan. I know it’s important to you for us to stay on plan and meet our goals for the year, right?” Once I agree that staying on schedule is a goal, it is harder for me to argue that you should do something that will put us behind schedule.
Dean Kaplan is President of The Kaplan Group, http://www.kaplancollectionagency.com/, a commercial collection agency specializing in large claims and international transactions. He has 35 years of international business experience, traveling to over 40 countries to negotiate over $500 million in mergers and acquisitions and other business deals.