The plan when you have to scrap the plan
The best marketing plans are fluid, not rigid. They anticipate and accommodate changes in the market. But there is not a single marketing or business leader who was prepared to handle the implications of COVID-19. To quote the wise teachings of Mike Tyson, “Everyone has a plan until you get punched in the face.” While that message has always resonated with me, it now connects more than ever to what we are all experiencing both personally and professionally.
Hope for your future
As you work to adapt to the changing needs of your business and customers, you are undoubtedly oscillating between fear and hope. This is natural, and my advice is to spend most of your time in the camp of hope. Committing to hope is not merely about crossing your fingers; it’s also about intention, action, and spending your time productively regardless of the circumstances.
The following are my recommendations for what actions you should take with your internal teams and agency partners right now to gather insights, obtain clarity, and bring a greater sense of purpose to your marketing plan.
1. Get back to basics
There are many classic planning tools you can use to revise your old playbook to accommodate the current environment. Here are three of my favorites:
- Hold a session to complete a SWOT analysis for your business. While basic, a SWOT Analysis always delivers value.
- Fill out a Porter’s Five Forces Model to unearth far-reaching implications for your business.
- Put pen to paper on PESTLE analysis.
These simple tools, along with many others that you might leverage, will all help to create a new perspective on how you view your business. And, when done with a larger group of people beyond marketing, they help build alignment toward common objectives.
2. Research the market
Get a better sense of how you should be marketing your product. Talk with your customers, connect with prospects, and start new relationships with other leaders in your industry. Also, make the best use of your increased screen time by reading top publications, searching for peer-reviewed articles, and gathering a holistic view of your competitors’ marketing. By building your overall base of knowledge across your entire market, you’ll be best positioned to navigate the new landscape.
3. Improve your craft
There are countless free and paid options for training across all areas of marketing, so do your research, assess your needs, take action, and share that knowledge with others in your organization. Additionally, seek out experts who can share best practices on the topics you want your team to master. While this approach seems simple, curiosity and learning are central to producing effective marketing.
4. Seek feedback
Talk with the people inside your company about how marketing plans can improve and better serve the collective organization. Hold online sessions to speak with key personnel who work in customer service, operations, product development, and sales. When you have these conversations, be open and ask for honest feedback, check your ego at the door, moderate the session with a productive spirit, and leave time for a brainstorm to collect new ideas you might not have thought of.
5. Retrospective for a fresh perspective
Hold a quarterly business review with your marketing team, then use the insights you gather to improve the work you plan to do in the future. Be sure to include key stakeholders from other teams at your business. Take a measured view of your major projects and promotions, dig for KPIs and results, and drive conversations around value and improvements.
The path forward
Progress is possible during these trying times, whether your marketing plans have been put on hold or you’re ramping up to meet unexpected needs. As you continue to adjust and adapt, take what actions you can to prepare your business and set yourself up for more successful marketing in the future. Lean on each other and lean on your partners.
If you could use a little help seeing the path forward, let’s talk.