Tell me if this sounds familiar. After a strategic planning session, the marketing team agrees on a high-level roadmap for the next quarter. You are excited to get to work. But then one teammate learns about a new ad platform. And another just got back from a conference and wants to start a company podcast. Everyone is going in a different direction. Suddenly, your solid plan feels more like a franken-plan.
This is not a plan. This is a collection of random activities, stitched together by various ideas and requests.
I understand how marketing plans fall out of place. You are inundated by new ideas, new channels, and new requests. You want to stay agile and not overlook any opportunities. And the pressure to choose right is real. After all, it is your job to promote the core message of the company and help move the business forward.
But in order to do this, you need a strategic and integrated marketing plan — one that defines the work needed to reach those larger marketing and business goals and ties them together.
You and the team need to stay focused on the most meaningful activities that will have the greatest impact on the business.
The key here is the team. Everyone needs to be a unified whole, rallied around what you want to accomplish — not broken out into siloed components working towards singular outcomes. And maybe this is where your planning process is falling apart. It can be difficult to create one unified plan when everyone is shouting for something new.
How can you tell that the team has lost focus and is working without direction? Here are the signs:
It seems like you and everyone around you is busy, busy, busy. People are furiously writing blog posts, running A/B tests, and discussing new partnership opportunities. There are plenty of tasks being assigned out. But there is one thing missing from all the busy — no one is asking, “Why are we doing this?”
Another question that is not being asked — “What are you working on?” There is little-to-no visibility into the work that is happening across teams. You do not have a clear understanding of what others are working on or how it will impact your own activities. Everyone is operating in silos.
This leads to some unhappy surprises. You might see a new social ad or blog post go live and wonder, “Who agreed to that?” You cringe a little because the messaging and imagery are off-brand. Teammates have gone rogue — doing their own thing without consulting each other.
With everyone working in their own separate corners, deadlines are starting to sneak by. “When was that analytics report due?” No one has seen it. The problem is that there is no way to visually track the work. And when one item gets delayed, it is impossible to see how the holdup impacts interrelated work.
A harsh reality once you look up — you are not delivering results. “How are marketing efforts performing?” Since everyone is working on their own projects and redirecting efforts every few weeks, there is literally no progress to measure. The team’s busyness and activity is surface with no substance.
The signs are obvious — the team is desperately crying out for structure.
Whether you are a leader in title or action, you can help make a change. Start by bringing a goal-first approach to your own work. This means doing your best to identify the goals in your organization and trying to get those goals validated by your boss. Even if your first round of ideas is off-base, the conversation can be a good forcing factor for an organization that has lost track of what matters most.
You should continually be the person who is asking that first question, “Why are we doing this?” Ideally, your curiosity will prompt the rest of the team to ask the same question — bringing more purpose and strategy to the work. And ultimately, leading you closer towards an integrated marketing plan.
How do you keep your marketing team in sync?
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