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 

Planning For Better Digital Marketing

Digital marketing presents many challenges for modern businesses and individuals. The perceived ease of direct access to market, costs savings and measurability has had ‘solopreneurs’, SMB’s and many global brands diving in head first to capture early gains. But in an increasingly crowded space it is not merely enough to do it, it needs to be done well.

Many businesses are struggling to produce the kind of results that they seek in the digital arena. Many are still undergoing some degree of digital transformation, and there are those planning to deliver more digital marketing in-house.  Effective digital marketing requires adequate business resources and capabilities that can identify and exploit market opportunities. That is why it is essential for business leaders to do an internal audit using a digital capability framework.

What is the Digital Capability Framework?

A digital capability framework is an internal research assessment of the nine core areas that have a significant impact on your ability to successfully implement your digital marketing both effectively and efficiently. They all fall within three main considerations as follows:

The Essentials
  1. Leadership buy-in – The level of co-operation, co-ordination and collaboration from leaders to support and influence the positive outcomes of the plan
  2. Team ability – Whether there are the right blend of functional and team roles within marketing and across the business. Highlighting skills gaps, structural barriers and development issues
  3. Market readiness – For the audience and the media channel
  1. Strategy – Is there one? Does it lead and support tactical activity? The degree to which it is integrated
  2. Governance – Are there adequate policies/frameworks and processes in place to support digital activity
  3. Infrastructure – The current level of IT systems and capabilities highlighting any immediate requirements
  4. Measurement – What needs to be measured, the alignment between strategic and business objectives and any barriers to measurement
  1. Financial Monitoring– Crucially the degree to which are you able to connect marketing performance to your financial results, the barriers and improvements needed. Note that good CRM and/or ecommerce systems are essential tools here.
  2. Innovation – The extent to which internal business culture encourages creative thinking, the attitude towards risk taking, and the development of ideas through to innovative outcomes

How to do a Digital Capability Assessment

It takes research that is best devised based on the business context and performed as part of the marketing process. I would recommend devising your research methods primarily around quantifiable survey and interview methods that can produce a score out of 10 points for each (max 90 points). Then build in ‘open feedback’ qualitative areas that will provide insight in to the potential barriers you’ll need to overcome. Low scoring areas will be your initial areas for concern.

There is no doubt that there is a need to manage expectations with digital. build a  and make a commitment to learning. A tolerance for risk taking and a ‘test and learn’ culture is important because digital marketing is rapidly evolving and learning is key. The ability to make the right connections between market intelligence and opportunity is vitally important to establishing the unique insights that will boost your digital marketing performance.

It is also important not to get lost among the crowd along the journey and end up throwing good money at a bad situation. For the time pressed marketer and business leader it may seem like another task we simply do not have the time or resources for. You can either back a half-cooked plan, spend and then randomly firefight in hope that it all doesn’t go up in smoke. Alternatively you can plan the right way, then spend and place a fire extinguisher in the fewer areas that are likely to spark

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 

The 7 Pillars of Content Marketing Strategy

Simply put, without a content marketing strategy in place there would be no road map that outlines your plans to advance your organisational goals supported by metrics or milestones, in a clearly aligned and integrated way.

There are two crucial factors to bear in mind about your content strategy. The first is to view it as a framework that sets the focus for creativity and innovation processes that produce a highly effective portfolio of paid, owed and earned content. The second is that content strategy is an integrated marketing philosophy closely linked with the sales funnel, search marketing via keywords, and social media although it should ideally come before social media strategy and ultimately help shape it.

Regardless of what type of marketing tactics you use, quality content should underpin all forms of your offline and/or online marketing.

 How to devise a content marketing strategy


A diagram of the 7 pillars of content marketing

Plan for Purpose
– Specifying the smart strategic objectives and the goals. Have clearly defined business goals with content that are the overarching reason every piece of content exists.


  • Include a content marketing mission statement to provide better focus for tactics
  • Aim to conquer the 3 prongs of content marketing – Socialise, Publicise AND Optimise
  • The strategy should be a framework that ignites creativity and innovation so avoid it being too prescriptive and limiting
  • Be familiar with the types of content marketing goals:

Common Content Marketing Goals

– Includes the overview of the current intelligence about your target segments or personas and positioning. Continue to develop your target personas and communicate intelligence to your people.


  • Develop personas to target – Two simple ways to do this are
    • For B2C – As a starting point is use Google Analytics to find out details like age, gender, and understand journeys through your website via clicks and times on site
    • For B2B – Use at least one of the following in order of popularity according to Content Marketing Institute B2B research: Industry trends; the profiles of individual decision makers; company characteristics; stage in the buying cycle
  • Resources permitting, look for synergies between your online personas and offline personas for a more holistic view

People – The details of the tasks, timescales, responsibilities and procedures for everyone in the content process including cross-functional colleagues and external partners.


  • Consider the role of third-party content e.g user generated content, guest blogs etc towards the bigger picture
  • Influential and collaborative leadership skills are best suited towards managing external partnership relationships including influencer marketing. Analyse whether their goals, resources and capabilities are the right fit and a collaborative partnership can flourish. For more guidance perhaps read ‘Better stakeholder management’

Storyline and Principles – The brand storyline for the campaign(s) and the fundamental propositions that are the foundations for conversations including style guides, tone and design guidance.


  • Before doing content marketing identify your unique brand story and values. To do so use the ‘who, what, were, why, when and how’ technique or the ‘5 Whys’ technique
  • You want to provide a framework to create kick ass content that adds value, solves a pain point or entertains whilst infusing it with your brand story to develop unique content propositions
  • Don’t limit your brand. Your content can go beyond what you sell to what your target audience loves and shares such as the case of Red Bull’s content focuses on extreme sports

Channels – The decisions in light of your plan and audience(s) as to where you will source, create, publish and amplify content


  • Plan the journey and tailor to the channels – Consider ‘who’ are our targets segments (personas), ‘what’ content resonates best ‘ and where’ best to find them
  • Stress the need to select keywords that align with your goals for website and content strategy
  • Integrate with offline content – utilize mind maps to help develop strategy with a structure that assists information architecture

Processes – Highlighting a series of actions to repeat with each piece of content, including set of criteria for sign-off.


  • Provide scope for real-time marketing (RTM) or reactive marketing (near-time) including integrating your crisis communications protocols that deal with negative PR and trolls
  • For outsourcing content creation aim to write outstanding ‘on brand’ and to objective content briefs
  • Set realistic timelines for content production and distribution
  • Use technology to collaborate around content ideas and processes. For instance, I use apps like Trello and Evernote that operate and synchronise across desktop and mobile devices

Performance Measurement – Specifying the budget, benchmarks and measurement. This is not just ROI, shares and likes, but must be related back to purpose.


  • Devise a good hierarchy of organisational goals from top line KPI’s through to headline content success metrics and then lower level content optimization metrics
  • For ROI measurement work towards arriving at a point where you can calculate your costs across – Planning, Ideation, Production, Distribution, Measurement. Use a consolidated set of analytic tools and invest the time ahead of every campaign to set up tagging, grouping and tracking which will pay dividends for more accurate real-time / near-time tracking of your content marketing ROI

With these tips hopefully you will be on your way to creating or adjusting your content marketing strategy and producing better results. Be sure to add any further tips and best practices that work for you in the comments below.

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