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 

9 of the Most Common Leadership Mistakes

An image with how important good impressions are to leadership

Working environments are changing and leaders need to continually understand the best approach towards getting the best out of the people around them. So below are 9 of the most common leadership mistakes and what you can do to avoid them to save yourself some time-consuming and costly firefighting.


  1. Not Providing Feedback

According to 1,400 executives polled by The Ken Blanchard Companies, it is the most common mistake that leaders make. When you don’t give prompt feedback to your people, you’re depriving them of the opportunity to improve their performance.

It is important for leaders to look for random opportunities on an ongoing basis to give feedback using appropriate team moments to send a message about good practice and one-to-one moments for more descriptive, personal and directional feedback.

  1. Lacking Tact

The ability to tell the truth in a way that considers other people’s feelings and reactions to avoid conflict and find common ground. Being tactful will strengthen your reputation, credibility and ability to influence positive outcomes.

To develop the skill, become a more active listener, show empathy, and think more carefully about the right time to talk, as well as your choice of words and your body language. Most importantly, never react emotionally. By being more tactful you will also provide additional balance and strength for the times where you have to get your message across more forcefully and ensure that your rights are respected.

  1. Not Leading by Example

‘A manager is a title given and a leader is a title earned’

It’s a ‘show me’ role where others look to leaders for the values to adopt, the process to trust, and the procedures to follow to deliver results. When you seem disengaged from business activity, show unprofessional behaviors or fail to play by the frameworks and standards that you set others, you undermine your very own leadership.

Be aware that your team is watching and listening to you all the time. If you want to shape their behaviors you have to start with your own. Show them the way and they will follow suit.

  1. Overlooking the Cultural Environment

The way that you do things may get the best response in one scenario but may produce negative outcomes in another. Assess the fit between your leadership style and your working environment to identify where and how adjustments can be made. Understand your people, your end game and adapt your style to the situation and the individual.

  1. Failing to Define Goals

Without a focus on clear goals and objectives your team will lack direction, your expectations and they cannot be productive or prioritize their workloads. Set SMART goals that are aligned with business objectives and embed them with regular two-way communication for clarity, reinforcement and motivation towards a goal focused environment.

  1. Lacking Decisiveness

Procrastination, indecisiveness and moving the goal posts fail to inspire the confidence of your team and can be a fatal to your leadership.  To help make better decisions in a timely manner commit to a process.  Create a constructive environment that investigates situations in detail, generates a well-considered set of options, then selects, actions and leaves the rest to monitoring, review and development.

  1. Overstepping the Friendship Line

It is important to be seen as friendly and approachable. However there is a line to be drawn at ‘results’ and it should be respected at all times. Be wary not to get caught up emotionally as a friend to the point it clouds your judgment when it comes to tough decision-making. Your primary concern is the business goal, so ensure that everyone understands that fun and games is part and parcel of the journey but always comes second to the business needs.

  1. Using Blanket Motivation Methods

Misunderstanding what it takes to motivate your team. Firstly, many leaders fail to think and act beyond money motivation. Secondly many fail to distinguish motivating the team separately from the individual.

The team can be motivated with empowerment and autonomy, collaborative working, recognition, titles, goals and more. But you also have to motivate at the  individual level. That overlaps with the above and extends to more such as work place culture, progression, extra responsibility, purposeful work and greater work life balance.  So find the time to interact and get to know what truly drives your people.

  1. Poor Delegation

Delegating effectively is a leader’s most powerful tool. However many refrain for lack trust in the capabilities of colleagues to do the job properly, or do it how they would do it. As a result leaders can become the bottleneck that holds performance back as well as related problems that cause stress and fatigue.

It takes a lot of effort up-front but embrace your role as a coach. Understand and trust in your colleagues capabilities. Aim to become better at giving excellent instructions and being hands on to boost and follow up on performance were required. Also hone your skills in corrective coaching and allow your team to be more empowered and grow. Good communication is paramount.


Your leadership and management style is exempt from the fail fast and learn philosophy because whilst failure will help you to learn they can have a heavy price to pay. By taking the time to learn how to avoid common mistakes you will shine by standing on the shoulder of giants who already failed so that you can learn how to become a more successful leader.

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 

Better Stakeholder Management

Marketers and business leaders are constantly being pulled in multiple directions and are often working to multiple priorities. Sometimes it feels like everyone and their dog has an interest in what you are doing, and at any moment someone will pop up with a ‘drive-by’ requirement or concern for immediate attention. It can throw a monkey wrench in that perfectly planned project.

The increasing number of  communication channels, more savvy customers and advancing technologies means that business leaders and marketers must work extra hard to churn out targeted messages that positively engage and satisfy a broad set of stakeholders.

If not carefully managed, disgruntled stakeholders can become problematic as they attempt to have their priorities addressed first which can lead to fire fighting the potential for conflict, poor responsiveness and dis-organised chaos.

9 Tips to Better Stakeholder Management

  1. Do a good stakeholder analysis

There are many different internal, external and connected stakeholders or stakeholder groups connected with your project all with different resources, influence and expectations. The common problems with stakeholder management typically lie somewhere between insufficient preparation, planning and foresight.


  • Identify and analyse your stakeholders using How to do a Stakeholder Analysis
  • Use your Power / Interest grid as a snapshot picture of your priority stakeholder(s) interests, issues and current to future status towards your project / organization
  • Use a red, amber green system and arrows to highlight the current status and shifts needed as a result of your project

Diagram of a sample power interest stakeholder model


  1. Plan your approach to stakeholder management

The resources that you allocate to stakeholder management should be directly proportionate to the size and difficulty of your projects and goals, the time you can make available for communication, and the amount of help that you may need.

Tip: Consider you/ your teams strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) to inform your approach

  1. What do you want from each stakeholder?
  •  The desired support – high, medium, low
  • The desired project role (if any)
  • The desired actions desired (if any)

Tip: Know and understand your strategic goals and how they advance the business objectives to help prioritize stakeholders based on the highest overall business return

  1. Prioritise Stakeholders

There are just not enough hours in the day or money in the bank to service and communicate with everybody and in truth not everyone will advance the pursuit of our goals and objectives.  Decide who to focus on and take a monitoring and/or defend approach to the others on a needs must basis.

Tip: Select primary targets and a second group (optional) to nurture with ‘fill-in’ resources when possible

  1. Draft the key messages to communicate effectively and efficiently

Aligning values, incentives and motivations around your project/ organization requires both effective communication and an active dialogue.On the one hand we need to creatively devise ‘on brand’ key messages for mutual benefit. On the other hand we need to go to war to grab their attention via a combination of ‘best fit’ communication channels (as determined by you), factoring in the level and intensity of communications, actions needed and desired outcomes for each.


  • Create and share a communications matrix for a clear and concise snapshot update throughout the project term
Who to reach Messages Best Channels Desired outcomes Budget


  • Personalized marketing tactics are proving highly effective
  • Internally – align projects with stakeholder’s goals and objectives both vertically and horizontally. Include internal stakeholders early on is the project process as co-developers to aid ‘buy in’ 
  1. Action with small steps

Tip: It is far better to implement your approach with shorter action, goals and review cycles based around 2-way communications and near–time insights. This will enhance your stakeholder relationships based upon frequent and effective dialogue with the key players.

  1. Provide visibility

There are two main principles here. First, we cannot communicate to others something which we do not know about. Secondly, a lack of open communication leaves the door too far ajar for unfavorable assumptions. Both have the potential to undermine your credibility and efforts.


  •  Shape up internally to share news, intelligence and near/ real-time performance updates about the project / organization.  The good news is that it is increasingly possible with various communication and analytical technologies
  • Manage stakeholder expectations early doors with clear expectations about communication, timelines, and budget to help them understand your environment and how best to work together. This will build understanding, your credibility and reliability.
  • It is inevitable that new priorities and work requests will emerge so only allocate up to 70% of your time to planned work to leave time for flexibility
  1. Automate and streamline wherever possible

Tip: Define uniform processes and templates in order to streamline communications between different stakeholders.

  1. How will you know when you have achieved your goals and objectives

 It is a relationship best served and understood by engaging in two-way communications underpinned with appropriate listening methods and a well devised set of KPI’s and metrics that feed your goals and objectives.


  •  Use the 80:20 listening rule – it’s no longer what we say it is… it’s what they think and feel it is
  • Keep the end game at the forefront of your minds and action. Devise and report on KPI’s and metrics that advance the strategic and business objectives. Keep activity metrics at the performance improvement level
  • Track effectiveness and efficiency separately to help optimization


Following these steps will help reduce the impact of stakeholder ‘drive-by’ concerns or requirements that can negatively disrupt project performance and will provide a clear view of the progress being made. The added visibility in particular will also encourage discussions about how implementing any new deliverables will affect outcomes, deadlines, and resources.


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 

How to do a Stakeholder Analysis

Every organisation and marketing campaign has a number of stakeholders armed with the ability to positively or negatively affect the outcomes of your projects. That’s why from experience I found that it is better to proactively build relationship management in to the planning process to identify, communicate and monitor who needs to know what, when, why and how. To arrive at that point the cornerstone of successful stakeholder relationship management is a good stakeholder analysis.

How to do a Stakeholder Analysis

  1. Identify

There are many different internal, external and connected stakeholders or stakeholder groups connected with your project all with different resources, influence and expectations. A great way to identify them is to combine your business’ existing knowledge, fill the gaps with market scanning and brainstorm based on the six markets model or relationship marketing, as below:

6 stakeholder markets - internal referral recruitment influence customer

  1. Analyse
  •  Map your stakeholders using Mendelow’s Power / Interest grid to help you to identify your priority stakeholder(s)
  • Highlight their key interests and issues surrounding your project / business and their current status towards it. By attitude we mean whether they are advocates, supporters, neutrals, critics, or blockers.
  • Use a red, amber green system and arrows to highlight the current status and shifts needed as a result of your project

As a result you should you should end up with a snapshot map that looks like the following:

Diagram of a sample power interest stakeholder model

Note that each should contain brief information on their interests and issues.

When you arrive at this point you are ready for better project results with my post on better stakeholder management

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