Keep Your Marketing Plans On The Table Instead Of The Shelf

Colleagues at work planning

So it gets to implementation season and it’s time for your marketing plan and campaigns to deliver some excellent business results. Today, one thing is constant for all marketers and that is change, hence the emergence of approaches such as responsive marketing, agile marketing and real-time marketing.

Marketers can no longer rely on drafting an intricate once a year plan to deliver strategic and corporate objectives. That same plan that took weeks or months to put together that often ends up on the shelf during the heat of the action and revisited at the end of the term for review. To really bring great plans to life we need to keep those strategies , plans and campaigns ‘active’  as working documents that lead, control, monitor and develop implementation throughout the term.

As a result your marketing is continually and consistently managed to objectives and strategy so you can deliver highly relevant and effective marketing propositions to your prospects that increases the bottom line.

How to keep your marketing plans ‘active’ and highly effective


Keep in touch with your business environment to get ahead

Scanning your external marketing environment(s) for intelligence and insights can be challenging with research, cost and complexity barriers but going beyond the once a year comprehensive scanning for planning is a necessary evil. Many marketers and business leaders adopt an ongoing reactive scanning approach to capitalize on or firefight sudden business opportunities and threats. Whilst that is essential for an unforeseen small window of change it is when it becomes the routine approach that can leave your organization dangerously lagging behind market moves It is then that your strategy and plans can begin to disintegrate with lower quality responses in the heat of the moment. Marketers are urged take a more proactive approach which involves anticipating potential changes via scenario, contingency and responsive marketing planning to develop action plans in advance.


  1. Identify your needs starting with reliable and relevant secondary data sources and set up incoming feeds via creating twitter lists, custom RSS/blog feeders like Feedly, and Google alerts as necessary
  2. Use EASY free or low cost software technologies to selectively save, organize, assimilate and share all of your key information and data. I personally use Evernote and the Evernote web clipper across all of my devices for this purpose.
  3. Allocate specific time for scanning (skim only unless critical) for key information to save for later review. Then schedule separate time perhaps on a monthly basis to read, share and action as appropriate.
  4. You may find it helpful to schedule a regular block of time as “buffer time” to deal with unexpected situations


Plan – DO – Check – Act

Whatever the method of project managing implementation ensure you underpin the processes, procedures and leadership with a simple Plan – Do- Check –Act (PDCA) loop.  Each cycle of action is followed by reporting and decisions of what to continue, adjust, incorporate and cut back allowing plans to remain current, ‘active’, improved and aligned with strategy and objectives.


  1. Aim for monthly or bi-monthly cycles for plans less than 6 months and a minimum of quarterly for annual plans


Embed a system to identify the need for higher level changes to plans

With the current pace of change in marketing it is important to develop a system to understand and rank the need for adjustments and changes brought on externally or internally as we progress through our plans. Adjustments can be made at a day-to-day activity and operational levels. However changes to plans are likely to have bigger implications at strategic and wider businesses levels that may need significant consideration at the ‘Check’ stage of the project management loop.


  1. For emerging or immediate opportunities use the MoSCoW method to help categorize the need for adjustments and change. MoSCOW stands for:
  • Must – A change that must be implemented to attain the plans objectives
  • Should – A critical adjustment or change that should only be included if possible to do so
  • Could – An adjustment or change that is desirable but not critical to success and can be overlooked if resources are limited
  • Won’t – Nice to have but can be done at a later date
  1. For emerging or immediate threats/risks conduct a risk analysis and use a risk impact/probability chart to prioritize the risks that you face. Then manage each risk.


Leadership quote from Marvinsroom101 instagramBecome increasingly flexible in your tactics

The competitive landscape is becoming increasingly difficult and marketers are expected to do more, achieve more and sometimes with less. Opportunities and threats can emerge at anytime and we need to be able to adapt quickly to ride the waves and avoid the pitfalls to be successful. To do so requires the ongoing commitment to building dynamic capabilities across the business for a more agile marketing approach that supercharges your marketing communications and campaigns via advantageous responsive marketing and real-time marketing.

Responsive marketing takes cues from the near-time customer and competitor insights and values agility and engagement to deliver highly relevant marketing propositions. Tactically, this means listening, more frequent scanning of your marketing environment so you know when and how to interact. Real-time marketing is really a subset of the more strategic, methodical responsive marketing.

Marketers at Oreo were able spark the craze for successful real-time marketing (RTM) with a social media moment during the Superbowl 2013 because they were already highly skilled at responsive marketing.

Not all of us have the resources for opportunistic RTM but many of us can repurpose our resources and planning to properly execute effective near-time responsive marketing with the option to dabble in to significant real-time opportunities. Take the fine example of loosely planned responsive TO real-time marketing by Pantene’s #WantThatHair campaign for the 2013 Oscars that tweeted tips for hairstyles like the celebrities from the red carpet that continued to trend during the 2015 Oscars.


  1. Develop and communicate a framework for responsive marketing tactics as part of marketing planning to ignite the scope for creative ideas across the business
  2. Collaborate, Collaborate, Collaborate to create, integrate and build capabilities – internally, cross-functionally and externally to leverage and develop your people’s knowledge, skills and experience
  3. You may want to schedule a regular time to discuss and brainstorm new ideas, set objectives that encourage creativity. Use free collaborative tech solutions such as Trello or any existing system functionality to share and develop ideas from the desk

About the Author: Marvin Miller is a Marketing Management & Campaigns Specialist who works across multi channel marketing strategy, campaign strategy and marketing implementation. You can follow his daily updates via Twitter and join his professional network via LinkedIn 

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