Whether you are a one-man marketing team at a start-up company or a Chief Marketing Officer running a 50-person department, the leap from conception to implementation of a marketing strategy is always a challenge. However, operationalizing your strategy does not have to be painful.
Experts in the industry rely on a basic set of principles. These principles help to guide marketing professionals as they ramp up their go-to-market plans and begin to launch campaigns. This article outlines the basic framework of an operational plan for marketing strategies, regardless of industry vertical, company size or resources.
• Company, department and campaign goals are defined
• Benchmarks are set
• Key performance indicators are in place
• Product/service release timelines are up-to-date
• Content strategy is complete
• Social media strategy is complete
After you have gathered release cycle information from your product teams, brainstormed ideas for your content marketing plan, and defined your corporate messaging, the next step is to put this plan into motion.
1. Compile information into a single repository
Take all the information that you have gathered from various stakeholders at your company and compile it into one place. Whether you unload it in one Google document, spreadsheet, or PowerPoint––just make sure that anyone who needs to access this information later can do so from one central resource. This will also serve as a reference for you as you build out your plans.
2. Get a whiteboard and markers and map out your activations
Yes, get a whiteboard and marketer. Starting from your goals and objectives, you need to map out each campaign and the steps it will take to make it successful.
Gather key stakeholders in a room (or relevant personnel only) to construct your production timeline. White boarding allows you and your team to easily make changes, add new tasks, change due dates, etc.
On the left side of the white board, in the first column, list every activation in your strategy, including the sequential steps to achieve the activation. The activations in the first column can be very granular, but the granularity will depend on the needs of your marketing team.
Next, you want to define the type of activation. In the second column, categorize the type of activity. (i.e. what is the function?) Social? Event? Content? Email? Operational? This way you will be able to sort activation types later and determine what’s working and what is not working. In the third column, write which team member is responsible.
Make sure that your activations are in sequential order. After the third column, write week 1 in column 4’s header, week 2 in column 5’s header, week 3 in column 6’s header, and so on. These are your due dates. The person responsible for these activities now has a timeline to complete their assignments. Mark an “X” in the box that corresponds to the activation and due date of each task.
Once you have a massive Gantt chat on your whiteboard, first take a picture with your phone. You don’t want to lose your hard work. Second, you need to digitize your plan. Hopefully, your company uses a project tracker such as Basecamp or Asana. Create a new project for your strategy. Within the strategy, outline the campaigns as top-level tasks. Then, within each campaign task, create subtasks as you outlined on the whiteboard. In your project tool, assign due dates and persons responsible to each task.
3. Set a weekly marketing strategy implementation meeting with key marketing stakeholders to make sure you are on track to meet your goals and launch your campaigns.
In this meeting, review progress, identify areas that are delayed and agree on action items to deliver in the next meeting.
Operationalizing ideas can be difficult, especially if you are an “idea” person. By using the above steps to guide your marketing strategy implementation, you will ultimately save yourself time and reduce confusion and conflict with other team members.
This guide is meant to be flexible and fit the needs of marketing teams, both large and small. By following this operational plan, you can be sure to keep your team on track, advance your marketing activations and provide full transparency.