A goal without a plan is just a wish.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with dreaming, but there is a difference between goal setting and reaching that goal. Without a plan, that goal becomes nothing more than a dream.
In order for a business to achieve something impactful and meaningful as well as making the most out of new opportunities, the process of developing a strategy cannot be skipped – if that happens mistakes get made, wasted investment occurs and ultimately, we never get close to making the most out of the opportunity that we spotted.
A new product, launch or campaign requires the time to step back and figure out what do we really want to achieve? And how can we get there? Let’s break down this process in a few steps:
- Desire – something you’d like to achieve
- Goal – where you want to get to
- Plan – step by step guide on how to get there
If you don’t have time to do it right. What makes you think you’ll have time to do it over?
PROSPER – planning framework
Developing a marketing strategy isn’t an exact science. However, we as marketers do have a box of tools that we can pick and choose from and apply where we feel they fit best according to each scenario. The PROSPER model is one of those tools, and it makes sure we prepare by assessing internal and external market data to understand market value and opportunity. This enables us to research and identify market segment and audience size based on credible empirical evidence.
From this position, we have an idea of business opportunity, market size as well as knowledge of our target audience and competitor environment which will allow us to find a point of difference in the market for our brand message and position. From here we can then begin to set strategic objectives (ideally SMART ones).
Now we begin to move beyond a desire and start to identify a destination, one that the business can both achieve and easily communicate. The objective must also be measurable, realistic and based on the empirical data from our planning stage – which ultimately gives the plan credibility.
Test and Learn – Action plan
Next, we move onto developing tactical and executional plans. As we have now established a market opportunity, our audience, positioning and specific goals – we have the complete picture to know which are the best marketing levels we can pull out of our toolbox that can do the best job.
With this knowledge, we can identify based on experience which are going to be the best and most effective marketing channels to deliver our goals (for instance relevant to customer journey stages e.g. leads, sales or awareness focused objectives) as well as which channels are the best ones to get closest to our target segments. With this, we can also identify where the marketing budget should be best placed and upweighted, and demonstrate this with forecasts to show what each channel is providing to the campaign goal based on benchmark data. Every channel should be contributing something specific to our campaign otherwise it shouldn’t be there. Each one should be delivering highly on one of two things (ideally both). Firstly, on how closely it can reach and match our target audience and secondly based on its likelihood of delivering a desired outcome (reach/leads/conversions etc).
“The measure of intelligence is the ability to change”
I previously wrote about how the marginal gains theory should be applied more frequently to a business context and how it applies perfectly to finding a pathway to incremental business performance.
There’s always a danger of complacency once we’ve done the hard work of planning and delivering the execution – we don’t want to stand still, your competitors don’t so why should you?
I’ve outlined a simple framework which can help provide some context into how your business can develop into a digitally innovative testing machine that constantly seeks incremental improvement.
In order to achieve this model, there has to be a dedication to innovation. This innovation is what will help the business learn, improve and drive incremental growth.
Once we’re fully immersed in execution mode it’s very easy to get lost in the myriad of data that we have access to in digital marketing. There is also a trap that many businesses fall into, which is constantly adding more data into a report over time and forgetting our original objectives.
In order for us to get to our goals we originally established we need to make sure our performance remains SMART. We should only focus on the goals that truly matter and not be distracted by digital data overload. We need to remain concise, achieving a handful of important goals and measure ourselves against these and only these. Our reporting and measurement needs to have focus otherwise we easily forget what we originally set out to achieve, below is an example matrix we can use to make sure we stick to measuring only the most important metrics:
To summarise, our marketing strategies demand & require a considered planning approach. We need a desire and objectives that are backed by credible data & research to create an executional plan to reach them.
The models above are tools which can be used to help us quickly get to where we want to go and that we stick to what’s most important. Lastly, in order to innovate, move forward and grow – a test & learn mindset has to be at the centre of everything we do.