Successful Marketing Programs are Living, Breathing, and Changing

By Brian Harris

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Scott Gerber has been referred to as the “Simon Cowell” of young entrepreneurship. He gives folks a kick in the pants to get their ideas off the ground. I find common ground with Scott in his concept of the one-paragraph startup plan. Essentially, Scott wants entrepreneurs to take your entire business plan and boil it down to a digestible format.

The one-paragraph startup plan is based on 5 points:

  1. Answer key questions about your business
  2. Write checklists designed to move your business forward.
  3. Execute your plan.
  4. Revise your draft plan based on the information gathered while executing the checklists.
  5. Continue to update your plan.

The one-paragraph startup is a living, breathing document based on what you observe and test in the field as you launch. For this reason, the concept easily carries over to marketing programs.

The one thing that all successful marketing programs have in common is the ability to follow up. Your marketing team can spend hours writing the most brilliant plan. But it needs to be tested, verified, and adjusted in the field. Results need to be measured and reported. Like fine art, the best marketing programs aren’t created in a vacuum. If you don’t have real-time insights, then frankly, what was the point of the hours spent planning?

The ‘One-Paragraph’ Marketing Plan Based on 5 Points

I’m not trying to undermine the importance of planning, but there’s something to be said about executing programs without the fear of perfection. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from working with Zenput customers, it’s that things go wrong in the retail environment and they go wrong often. That shouldn’t deter you from rolling out your plan with confidence and knowing that if something goes awry, you’ll be able to recover quickly.

Compose Your One-Paragraph Marketing Program

1. Answer key questions about the product/promotion

There are many sub-questions:

  • How will customers know the product is in your stores?
  • What is the best location for this product in the store?
  • How long will this promotion run?
  • As a CPG company, what materials will I need to provide to a retailer?
  • As a retailer, do I need to train my staff in advance?

2. Write checklist designed to move plan forward

Wouldn’t it be helpful if you could create a series of tasks to prepare each store for the next big program? For instance, if you’re a retailer and you’ll need floorspace, you could create a task for store managers to adjust the planogram and verify with a photo. If you’re on the CPG side, you could deploy your field reps to discuss the program with the managers of high-traffic stores. This is smart preparation working with your team in the field.

3. Execute the plan, while still utilizing checklists

Example checklist:
  • Materials are set up according to instructions.
  • Display is placed correctly in store.
  • Product quantity/facings are correct
  • Take a photo to verify. (Plus, it truly is worth a thousand words.)

4. Revise The draft plan, based on Your Checklist Results

Real-time results enable a remote marketing team to respond to questions/concerns prior to launch. Plus, it enables store managers to be your eyes and ears in the field. They know their store environment best, so give them a way to share their observations.

5. Continue to update your plan

Remember: The marketing plan can be living, breathing, and changing based on your ability to gather and respond to new information. Don’t worry about perfection from the onset. Strive for perfection by adjusting as needed.

Approaching marketing programs this way may require a cultural shift in your organization. But if you see room for improvement, dare to be the voice of change!

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