Marketing Management: Improving Implementation Performance

A stressed manager in a meeting

Ways to improve marketing implementation performance

So you devised the best strategic plan to advance your business objectives and then start putting it in to practice only to meet some issues and frustration a few months down the line. Sadly there can be many reasons why leaders struggle to meet their strategic objectives once the rubber hits the road.

For some, the end of the second or third quarter comes and you are smashing targets, under budget, on schedule and it is the potential for complacency that becomes the threat. For many others, they may find themselves below target performance, over budget, under resourced, behind schedule. In both cases what happens next is equally important. It’s neither the time to sit back in cruise control or succumb to the temptation to look for blame and excuses. It is the time to make some necessary adjustments to improve performance.

10 Ways to Improve Marketing Implementation Performance

  1. Understanding how your role in marketing implementation is evolving

Moving forward Marketing Managers will need to hone their skills at leveraging business data, consumer data, and market data to develop strategy on one hand, and acquire the unique ability to understand rapidly changing marketing landscapes at a tactical level for better implementation on the other.

Therefore we as marketers should work in alignment vertically and horizontally within the organisation to influence the marketing mix. We also should be the catalyst for driving creative campaigns with the science of measuring results, and the complexity of managing systems and technology.

  1. Keep strategies and plans ‘active’ to continuously improve

Regardless of whether you adopt Agile, Waterfall, Prince 2 or other styles of project management approaches it is just essential to embed one underpinning cyclical process within the team  PDCA

Plan – Do – Check – Act

I still see many great strategies, annual plans, and marketing campaign plans get shelved until the end of the term before a review ahead of the next static plan. Keep plans ‘active’ with more frequent reviews to understand your level of progress,  incorporate any new opportunities to exploit, make adjustments or embed improvements and go again. Trust the controls and measures within the plan to guide your actions all year round and drive performance in line with financial, time and resource based measures.

  1. Look after the bigger picture

It’s important for Marketing Managers to show entrepreneurial flair and think like the MD. It is vital that we keep on top of the marketing environment to better understand customers, competitive moves, market dynamics and trends to exploit emerging opportunities in both a proactive and reactive (RTM) way. Marketing builds a bridge called superior value between your organisation and it’s target customers and entices them to cross it for mutual benefit.

Excite and unite the team around that focus via internal communications and leadership flair. Managing by objective helps to attack silo working mentalities and inspire collaboration. Zoom out and think like a generalist. Instead of getting bogged down in specialist details, just keep on top of the scope, capabilities, trends and best practices of specialist areas and be the glue that binds specialists with marketing direction.

  1. Loose the battles to win the wars – cut your losses

Part of our learning is the understanding of what needs adjusting, what needs to be changed and what needs to be scrapped. Be honest and open to scrapping an investment. Well managed, controlled and data backed experimentation is necessary to gaining and sustaining a competitive advantage especially in the digital world.

Don’t throw good money after bad; throw it after the good you have found somewhere else. Tactical plans are an evolving portfolio where one aspect can fail but the portfolio can win so treat it that way. Some of the best evidence that a marketer has the building blocks to improve comes down to the willingness to face facts, especially when those facts aren’t good news

A quote about having confidence and humility in leadership

  1. Leading Teams

Both internally and externally (eg agencies) ensure that you have the ‘right’ people on board in terms of both functional and team roles. The former is about the blend of job descriptions and the other is about blending the attributes of people in a way that enhances the team performance. We need to build transparency, capabilities, mutual trust and respect within the team in a way that facilitates effective 2-way communications. Work towards becoming more flexible in your leadership style to understand, motivate and engage colleagues at a 1-2-1 level as well as a team level.  From there is essential to look after what I call the 4 C’s Co-ordination, Co-operation, Collaboration, Controls.  Better results will follow.

Great marketers also know that sales colleagues are your closest allies. They have the same goals so it is essential to work closely to obtain ‘buy in’ to plans and tactics on an ongoing basis and vice versa. Work collaboratively to develop ideas of how you can create, execute and analyze amazing marketing campaigns that deliver perfect, qualified leads to the sales team.

  1. Data is just cog in a big knowledge management wheel

So the cat is out of the bag and it’s causing a fuss. We are collecting data easier and faster than ever before and senior management is looking for more sophisticated data, analysis and ROI. To convert data in to intelligence data visualizers come in handy helping to reformat valuable, insightful data into visual graphs, charts, and graphics that make those numbers easier to digest.

Fully capitalizing on that intelligence requires increased creative collaboration and analytical skills to develop unique actionable insights. By creativity we mean the technical abilities to think ‘inside the box’ logically and ‘outside of the box’ laterally and these are skills that can be developed but that is a whole other beast I will discuss separately.

For now you can make use of general and Round-Robin brainstorming techniques and the 5 Whys and Cause and Effect Analysis tools to develop the creative juices in the team towards building intelligence and developing insights. Increasing collaboration can go beyond meetings to software tools such as Trello, Evernote, CRM and other solutions enabling increased collaboration from the desk. Then there is the core issue of analysis skills which is where number crunching skills are needed (by you or a colleague) amidst collaboration to combine intelligence and leverage knowledge and skills to arrive at your justified conclusions and recommendations.

  1. Develop a customer mindset

The best thing you can do in practice is to train yourself to think like a customer and then champion the customer across the business to help guide insights and decisions with keen insight into what makes customers tick, their motivations and behavioral dynamics. Then it’s about measuring, monitoring, and adjusting that experience in real-time for each customer.

  1. Have an open mindset

The only constants in our industry is change so attempt to embed dynamic capabilities within the team and across the organisation to ensure that marketing can become agile enough to exploit emerging and real-time opportunities particularly in the digital space. That also means building on the attitudes towards risk taking upstairs and encouraging it next door, externally (the agency will love you) and downstairs to be open to new and untested but not unmeasured opportunities

  1. Demonstrate the value

Whether brand and/or revenue focused the aim is always to tie your work directly to increasing the bottom line so that marketing is no longer seen as a cost but an investment vehicle with assets that grow the company. Coaching the team to understand the types and relationship between KPI’s, operational and activity metrics will help them distinguish what is important at a team vs individual / tactic / channel level. Vanity metrics are not redundant but marketers should understand their time and place to ensure that reporting focuses on measures that deliver strategic objectives and business objectives.

  1. An influential budget

Done right all the above should build your influence at the negotiating table for budget and jointly funded projects with internal and external teams. Ultimately we will soon arrive at a point where sales and marketing teams will converge and understand the marketing contribution in greater detail. Then, fairly accurate income / value projections will accompany budget expenditures as the norm so get ahead and make inroads today.  An overspend can be mitigated with increased returns and you can make the case why under-funding marketing from the outset is an undesirable option.


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 

Making Big Data a Little Smaller

Big data continues to provide exciting opportunities for small, medium and large businesses to optimise business spending and become more customer-centric. Many marketers and business leaders are already using data, but there are increasing pressures to go beyond the use of mere intuition and increase the use of data backed decision making across the business.

The key issue for marketers is about how clever we can get with the data. Big data means nothing if we cannot turn it in something of value such as unique actionable insights, optimized processes, fuel for personalisation, more responsive marketing and improved customer experiences.

Once the ‘right’ types of data is flowing in to your organisation people still have to make the connections to derive value. It is how you turn the data in to market intelligence and that intelligence in to actionable insights that really matters. But many marketers can get overwhelmed by the volume, velocity, variety and veracity of data to the point of temporary paralysis and the ineffective use of data.

8 Tips That Make Big Data a Little Smaller

  1. Don’t collect data for data sake it will only get in the way

Make sure you are only collecting data that is relevant to achieving the business mission, long-term and short-term objectives. Plan ahead and consider scenarios to establish the parameters for data collection

  1. Become familiar with the internal and external data already being collected

Look across your organization and understand the types of data that is already being collected, what types of data can be used, where it is stored and whether it is already being converted in to usable intelligence such as news and reports

  1. Be clear and solely focus on the issue(s) you are trying to understand

Let the specific problem, trend, behaviors, or need be the guide instead of the data which could take you off the beaten track and lead to the perils of unnecessary data overload

  1. Proceed with questions

Start by asking a simple question: what are you trying to figure out? For example, you may want to know how customers move through your sales funnel. Do they call first? Do they visit your website, then call? Where do customers originate from online? Let the data answer the who, what, where, when, why and how

  1. Deconstruct the issue and start the solution with… why?

A good way to develop insights in to the root causes of particular issues so that you can develop creative solutions is to use Sakichi Toyoda’s simple 5 Whys technique. When an issue arises, simply keep asking the question “why” no fewer than 5 times and on each occasion look for answers that are grounded in fact and supported by data. Continue until you reach the underlying source of the problem, and until a robust counter-measure becomes clear

  1. Consolidate, integrate and evaluate

It should be the goal for your IT infrastructure to support the growth of big data alongside analytic tools to analyse enormous, varied and rapidly changing datasets in a consolidated and integrated way.  The technology will quickly aid analysis but it is for marketers / business leaders and their team(s) to earn their crust by interpreting and evaluating data in ways that extract the real value

  1. Overlaying data to tighten things up

It is common for broad data sets to still be used in other areas of the business and via external advertising agencies. To improve returns on investment and increase marketing effectiveness it is important to share your insights both internally and externally. For client-side marketers working with advertising and creative agencies it is a relationship best viewed as a collaborative partnership to deliver your business objectives. A great way to align the specialist resources, capabilities and efforts of the agency with your business objectives is to overlay their broader data sets with your hard-earned insights to inform the brief, execution and ongoing development of your campaigns.

  1. Communicate and collaborate to activate creative solutions

Share relevant market intelligence; invite feedback and solutions internally as part of the ongoing knowledge management process. Sweetspot insights and creative ideas can come from anywhere inside and outside of the room so just fuel the fire and help it burn


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

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 

Yet More Strain On Managing Client-Agency Relationships

For some the relationship is a strategic and tactical battlefield, for others it is a match made in heaven. The status of the relationship is never fixed and may well change following recent guidance and research that has the potential to increase tensions and be detrimental to the client-agency relationship.

First came the debate around the new retainer plus and project plus contract frameworks introduced by the voices of British advertising the ISBA and IPA back in June 2015. An approach criticised for doing nothing to resolve the larger, underlying tensions between clients and agencies that threaten to undermine the marketing industry and the quality of work created by agencies.

Then came the findings MediaSense, IPOS and the ISBA’s Media2020 research  findings last September 2016, signalling marketers intentions to work towards scaling back on agency relationships, driving performance orientated agency models, and gaining more in-house control of campaign activity.

What is Media2020?

A series of surveys and in-depth interviews with over 200 senor marketers and media decision makers from multiple industry sectors who account for over $1.5BN of advertising spend. A summary of the key findings:

  • Over half expect to reduce the amount of agencies they work with and bring typically outsourced functions like content development, social media and media planning in-house or to new agencies by 2020
  • Most aim to contract directly with media owners and tech companies cutting out the middle agency role
  • Media agencies are likely to remain the go to for paid media and creative agencies for big creative ideas but there is ambiguity as to the extent due to current discontent which I took the liberty to interpret as follows:

Content is king that has lacked creativity and strategic focus. Distribution is the queen that has lacked special effort to be contextually engaging to seize the moment. Performance is merely vanity concerned with what it looks like over what it is

  • Monitoring is a top priority changing the arena right now as the use of attribution modelling (63%) and business impact based KPI’s (76%) to lead and appraise media investments is increasing
  • Metric use is increasingly centered on digital metrics for ROI, customer value, engagement, and ultimately developing a single customer view

Why are the results so significant?

1. Signs of preparing for a very different media ecosystem

Insight in to how many businesses intend to organize themselves to meet the challenges of a rapidly evolving media ecosystem. Marketing management at implementation level is likely to increasingly evolve around more agile tactics and project management methods. To do that requires building more internal capabilities to manage customer relationships and the resulting data alongside further digital transformation. A ‘show me the value’ culture is taking centre stage to marketing investment (not cost) and that will influence the nature of agency relationships. Future success will be largely determined by how these processes are managed.

2. Marketers are trying to solve their problems but beware of the unintended consequences

Client issues like transparency, the control of campaign data, performance monitoring, and budget management have all been ongoing agency issues. Marketers intend to reign in control over owned and earned media across content marketing, data management and social media strategies to become more self-reliant and agile, data driven and tech enabled.

This makes perfect sense from a business perspective but the cat is out of the bag and agencies will not exactly be willing lie down and surrender their hard-earned revenues and that is understandable. Business will still need agencies along the way and those suspecting the chop will raise their defences and that will become detrimental to a relationship that requires a collaborative offence.

 3. Agencies may become wary about investment hindering development

Agency bosses ears have heard the ramblings of disgruntlement over agency performance from marketers and key decision makers for some time now and vice –versa. However this time the outcomes heighten fears around the worst case scenario. The increasing media investments from businesses, that agencies have built business models around, may be made by internal departments and less will be available to agencies.

An agency is a business like no other and if the threat of declining future revenues seems real then they’re unlikely to continue to invest enough resources in to account teams and the specialist talent that will help grow your business.

No doubt, unless you can show some commitment to what they need as well as your own needs and make them a part of the process you may risk forcing agency leaders to focus even more on survival agenda than leading your account to glory.

 4. The threat of undermining collaboration

Today, many of the best results derive from co-creation, risk taking and trust between the client and their agencies and among the agencies themselves. Effective collaboration is a problematic area but essentially is built upon effective leadership, mutual trust and respect, goal alignment, commitment, communication, co-operation and control.

It is perhaps best for leaders to openly discuss research findings and guidance such as these whether the cap fits or not. Use the moment to enhance the bond and iron out budding areas of conflict.  Otherwise you run the risk of these external influences chipping away at all of the other building bricks to effective collaboration via the ability, motivation and attitudes within their team.



5. The tendency to focus on the negatives more than the positives

The findings are more a reflection of business clarity on how best to play game and good agencies remember that they provide business models and propositions to help them play it well. Social media and content development are all central to digital strategy which in turn lies at the heart of marketing agility, performance monitoring and data development.  When you throw in the increasing costs of agency relationships the findings seems inevitable.

Don’t hate the player, find better ways to work with the player because they make you money…hate the game.

The reality is that for most businesses, agencies will continue to be an effective solution to internal resource and capability issues. They are the heroes with the specialist expertise and objectivity that allows them to thrive in their respective markets.

Overall the research is best used as great direction for clients and agencies on how best to prepare to work together going forward with the intention of creating long-term business relationships.


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