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 

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 


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