Whenever I am involved in a primary market research project with an industry that I am familiar with, I can usually predict about 80% of the data within the margin of error. But, just often enough, the findings are serendipitous. We are looking for answers to the questions that we ask, and end up with insight that we weren’t even going after.
The same is true with our strategic planning sessions. Our client believes one way, members of our marketing team have their respective opinions, and I have mine. But collectively we always arrive at a unique perspective that helps us build a better marketing plan.
- Objectives change during the session. A thorough situation analysis inevitably leads to more deliberate and intended consequences of marketing efforts. Initial marketing objectives often times mirror overall business objectives or KPIs but become refined and quantifiable throughout the process when discussion turns to the sales process, primary competitors, and trends in that particular industry.
- Sales and marketing become more aligned. We always want a sales manager or top salesperson in these sessions because most organizations tend to silo these functions- not intentionally, but because everyone becomes busy and you know…. So, while marketing is charged with lead generation, the sales folks close deals. A marketing plan can assist the process all the way to the close if we know the buyer’s mindset, objections, and perceptions.
- The client’s executive leadership gains a better appreciation for marketing. When the top brass shifts their attitude of marketing from an expense to an investment, you’ve made great gains. The strategic planning process tends to serve as an educational venture for those leaders that aren’t involved in marketing every day. Seeing the science behind the discipline is eye-opening for most of them and elevates their appreciation for their marketing team members.
- Clarity comes from self-critique. When you understand what you’re not so good at, your marketing takes on new meaning. Where and how your brand is positioned, how you communicate through all levels of the organization, and what changes need to be made in order to compete successfully all come from an honest look in the mirror. Because how your prospects see you is what matters most.
- A brand personality is born. Your social media, website, public relations, and advertising should all speak with the same tone and demeanor. Your personality needs to be defined so that it is consistent everywhere your brand is present. Consumers don’t differentiate your brand between channels and neither should you.