Our team recently kicked off a webinar series, titled "Q & A with A & J." We wanted this series to be different from most webinar series. A lot of times, a webinar is just one-sided where you're being talked at, instead of talked to. So we created an interactive Q & A session where those who attended would be able to openly ask marketing experts questions and get straight (and free) answers.
For our first webinar in this series, we decided to take on the topic, "How to Align Your Marketing Plan with Your Strategic Plan." To do this, we invited guest panelist, Jay Hidalgo of Jay Hidalgo Business & Leadership Coaching to help us out.
If you're currently thinking to yourself, "I wish I could have attended this webinar!" well, you're in luck! Take a look at the webinar recording below to learn how to align your marketing plan with your strategic business plan and why it's important to do so in the first place.
Free Resources that were Mentioned in the Webinar:
- Click here to download the webinar slides.
- Click here to download 1 Bold Step's Marketing House Template.
- Click here to download Jay Hidalgos "4 Helpful Lists" document.
Don't have time to watch the webinar, no problem! Keep scrolling to check out the webinar recap below.
Before we jump into how you can align your marketing plan with your strategic plan, you must first understand why this step is such an important part of your business.
Let's start off with an analogy. I want you to first think of your marking right now as your promotion and your branding. And in this analogy, your promotion and branding are like the landscape around the outside of your house. From the exterior, this is really appealing. Your marketing draws people in and it makes them think, "Wow, this is going to be amazing! I really want to work with this company." If we're following along with this analogy, they will essentially want to "step inside of your house."
But what sometimes happens though is that once you get inside the house, things don't look as nice as how they did from the exterior – the marketing promotion and the messaging that is.
With marketing, it's important to remember that there are 4 P's. So besides the first P of "Promotion," there is also "Product," "Price," and "Place." This includes things like "What were you going to sell," "How much were you going to sell it for," and "Where were you going to go to market with it." Marketing is not just about your exterior – the promotion.
Now, some would argue that as the market has changed and the buyer's journey has evolved, that they've added even more to the marketing mix. Now our P's have gone from 4 to 7, adding on "People," "Process," and "Proof."
So to set the stage, expand your mind, think beyond your logo, think beyond your next adverting campaign, and start to think about everything else that is actually inside of marketing – Because once people come in that door, having a mess is not what they want to see.
So, let's move on with the analogy and talk about the strategic plan as it relates to building a solid "marketing house." Within a house, you have your foundation, your plumbing, your electrical, your countertops and hardware, your rooms, and your landscapes. And with those things, you would want someone who is working on or building your house to understand how each one of those pieces work together.
In the same way, the overall business strategy takes into account all of these different areas of a marketing house which includes your:
- Revenue and Profit
- Cost of Goods
- Target Market
- Go To Market
Just like it is virtually impossible to do your electrical or plumbing in your house without having a blueprint, it's almost impossible for your marketing organization to do what they need to do without being involved in a larger strategy for the organization.
How to Create an Effective Strategic Plan:
So, how do you effectively create a strategy plan? There are nine ways:
- Manage the Whole: When you're coming into a strategy meeting, act like you're the owner and not just representing your individual departments.
- Breakthrough is Horizontal: Encourage each department to speak into each other to make sure that everyone is on the same page.
- The Truth Sets Us Free: Be honest about where your team is and where the organization is as a whole.
- Perspective before Planning: The biggest thing that we see is that organizations fail to receive the proper perspective before they go into planning. They start with the question of, "Where do we want to go?" But more importantly, you must first determine where you currently are. To do that, click here to download Jay Hidalgo's free "Four Helpful Lists" resource to help understand where your organization is at.
- Make the Vision Clear: Define what your roadmap looks like and really share this with your organization.
- Focus on the W.I.N.S: "W.I.N.S." stands for "What Is Important Now." Try focusing on a 90-day plan rather than a longer-term play to accomplish this.
- Form Follows Function: Unless you have the right people, the right systems, the right tools, etc., the structure is not going to help your plan. Once you put a plan together, make sure you have the right structure to move forward.
- Constant Adaptation: About every quarter, you should be looking at your strategic plan and making tweaks based on new information. Annually, you should be looking at the entire plan and making sure it's still taking us to where we want to go.
- If You Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan, Your Plan Will Work: Implementation and execution are so important when it comes to your strategic plan. There has to be intentionality, a planned effort, and accountability to accomplish your plan.
If you take these nine principles and you bring your marketing discipline underneath the overarching banner of the strategic plan, you are going to have success.
Moving back into our house analogy, the real estate agent is like the marketer that helps present the company. But if you present something that is a mess internally, who actually wins? Your marketing team needs to understand where the organization is headed. And to do this, you need to align your marketing goals directly with the overall company goals.
Now that we've established why your marketing and strategy plan need to be aligned, let's dive into how you can align your marketing plan with your strategic plan.
How to Align Your Strategic Plan With Your Marketing Plan
At 1 Bold Step, we like to use a "Marketing House" model (go figure!). Below you'll see an example of our house. You can follow along with this example by clicking here to download our marketing house template for free!
When we first get together with our clients we like to go through this house with them to help them align their marketing plan with their strategic plan. During this, we go through 5 stages of the marketing house. They include:
- The mission and vision of the overall organization.
- The values of the overall organization.
- The company's focus areas over the next 12 months.
- The marketing focus areas. To determine these, take a look at the company focus areas above and determine which of those areas marketing can impact the most. This is done so that everything that marketing is working on is directly rolling up to one of the company's strategic areas so that there is always this alignment.
- And then including KPIs that are going to tell us if we're accomplishing what we need to be along with the initiatives that we need to take for the next year.
Thinking through each one of these steps will guide you in how to talk and interact with people. At a very high level, you could give this marketing house/plan to anyone in the organization and they would understand where the company is going, how marketing is aligning with the overall goal, and what they're going to do to get their job done. No longer is your marketing plan a 50-page document that sits on the shelf and never gets used. It's now simple, visual, flexible, and easy-to-understand.
Take a look at this example of what to write in each of the house sections below in order to align your marketing with your strategic plan:
Start aligning your marketing plan with your strategic plan today!
Putting Your Marketing House to Work:
After you've created your marketing house, it's time to put it to work. Here are 4 tips on how:
- Create and Document the Plan: This may sound silly, but you wouldn't believe how many companies we've worked with who do not document their plan. Make sure to keep your team accountable and write your plan down.
- Strategy vs. Execution: Ensure that both strategy and execution are interlinked. Fill out Jay Hidalgo's free "Four Helpful Lists" document to get started on your strategic plan. Then fill out our free "Marketing House Template" to work towards an execution plan.
- Make Work Visible. Keep Teams Informed: Communication is the key to success. Make sure that everyone within the organization has the appropriate amount of information to grow towards the same way together.
- Continually Improve Your Process: Be sure to take a look at your plan both quarterly and yearly to ensure that you are going in the right direction and find new ways to be better and more efficient as you grow.
If these elements are brought intentionally into the organization, you are going to see success with aligning your marketing plan with your strategic plan.
Listen to some of the other advice that was offered by clicking here to watch the entire webinar or view the webinar below.
If you're ready to align your marketing plan with your strategic plan, try taking these two easy next steps:
- Click here to download Jay Hidalgo's free "Four Helpful Lists" document to understand where your team is current and start planning towards future success.
- Click here to download 1 Bold Step's free " Marketing House Template" to start aligning your marketing with your strategic plan while determining the next steps for execution.