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2020 Planning: Hop To It!

Date Posted: January 27, 2020Reading time: 4 minutes

by Mark Gascoigne

Want to up your marketing and communications game this year? The Marketing Department (TMD) blog is here to help! Beginning in January 2020 and running for ten issues, this blog series from the Trampoline team will share insights and strategies for the modern marketer. Continue reading for our first post with advice on starting the new decade with an expertly executed marketing plan. 

We all laugh and console ourselves by saying how complex and distracting marketing is today. There are so many shiny toys it’s certainly difficult to pick strategies and remain disciplined. However, is this really a new phenomenon? Consider this passage.

“The presence of many clever marketing programs is often associated with implementation problems. This is so because when a strong sense of marketing identity and direction are absent, programs tend to go off in all directions. Such bunny marketing results in diffusion of effort and random results.”

‘Bunny Marketing’, I love that term. This text is pulled directly from an article in a 1984 Harvard Business Review titled, ‘Making Your Marketing Strategy Work’. Today, HBR might have labeled it with some fancy acronym like UCI- Undirected Communication Initiatives. Bunny Marketing is way better, don’t you think?

Anyway, it’s January! Or what marketing directors often call, “the month after my plan was due and the month before I actually get it done”. Relax, you are not alone. This is the time of year that many of us are scrambling to get our plans finished while we have already started to execute. In fact, a recent study in the US of SME’s found that 50% of them did not even have a marketing plan in 2019, and over 55% of them spent less than 5% of their total budget on marketing. Not advertising, MARKETING! But that’s not going to be us this year. Right?

And by the way, in my opinion, every company NEEDS a marketing plan regardless of their size. You can get away without a communication plan, for a while anyway. But a properly prepared marketing plan is the only way you can be sure that the company is focusing on strategies and tactics that will keep the organization competitive today and relevant tomorrow. If you are succeeding without a plan, it’s likely for a handful of fortunate reasons:

All of which are precarious positions that could get disrupted very quickly.

So, what exactly is the difference between a marketing and communication plan? A good place to start is to actually define marketing. One of the best definitions for marketing I’ve read is, “(Good) Marketing is products that don’t come back, and customers that do.” – Steve Dawson, President of Walkers Shortbread Inc.

This definition is genius in both its brevity and its complexity. It fundamentally identifies marketing’s prime directive to be the right product for the right customer. It does not give us permission to declare “everyone” when asked who our target market is.

Here are two basic templates that itemize basic example components of marketing and communication plans.

Sample Marketing Plan
Sample Communications Plan

Although it’s called a marketing plan, it really is far more democratic than that. It’s actually the one plan (ok, the financial plan is kinda important as well) that impacts every department of your company. As such, it must be assembled with the collective input of all departments. And yet further proof of its critical importance. In future issues of this blog we will cover a number of the tools that a modern marketer must consider in their communication mix. Social media trends, media analytics, innovative video and more will covered over the coming months.

If you have already submitted your plan, congrats! You’re already doing better than 50% of your marketing compatriots. For those of us that have broken the back on the plan, keep going and don’t stop until the communication plan is done as well. And, for you ‘Bunny Marketers’, better luck next year!