The GPS is a revolutionary device and a lifesaver for those looking to get from point A to B, but don’t know how. And while all roads may lead to Rome, there’s always a faster and less complicated way with less twists, turns, road bumps, stops – or anything else you would like to avoid.
An effective marketing plan does just that. Bridging the gap from where the business currently is to where it wants to be, it plays the essential role of grid lining the overall marketing efforts, triggering alarms when deviation from the intended route occurs.
But most of all, it lays out your organizations coordinates at point blank – where you currently are and where you want to be – and out-and-out honesty helps immensely, because you can’t drive your organization to someplace unless you know where it is that you want to go, let alone how you’ll get there.
A clear analysis and definition of your brand mission and vision values sets the course for every marketing effort and greases the wheels of the overall business machinery – enabling the other departments within the organization to be in sync and complement every effort made to achieve its set financial objectives.
Once a well-defined and succinct marketing plan is laid out, communicating it in a timely and effective manner is the next step. Oftentimes in-house marketing and communications departments take it upon themselves to creatively strategize and even execute the proposed plan all by themselves. The usual argument for this erroneous overstepping of boundaries is that if they birthed the strategy, then it’s best that they incubate and execute it.
The bringing in of an outside entity – an advertising agency – can give the strategy its wings, clipping off what works and what doesn’t, and objectively accomplishing the set objectives without bias. Such detachment could very well be an advertising agency’s trump card, and the reason why many campaigns fare better than others.
It is the ability of marketing to pass the baton to the agency, following which the creative tenure must be adhered to with absolutely no interference, allowing them to do what they do best. Because that’s what advertising agencies do – they provide creative solutions that are tailored to boost brand value, resulting in higher sales and fat bottom lines.
Without a clear marketing strategy, even the best advertising agencies money can buy are blind, groping in the dark with their in-house marketing counterparts, usually being set up to take the blame when all falls through.
Without proper definition of authority-responsibility jurisdiction in the communications process, Agency-Client relationships often get soured, and bridges are burned without even a hint of remorse. The end result – either side is at a loss, and a lot of marketing dollars were squandered achieving nothing at best, or was of detrimental consequence at worst.
Marketing isn’t gimmickry. The success of any strategy depends on the marketing department’s supervisory competence to wholly adhere to the objective at hand and sticking to it no matter how bleak the outcome is at the beginning phases – a full time mission that cannot be fragmented or delegated – and its execution by a professional advertising agency, who usually prefer to with minimal interference once the objectives are mutually agreed upon.
However, there is another ingredient that is very crucial to the recipe for marketing success. And it is often the first thing that marketers shy away from giving a direct answer – a budget. Marketers like to work forwards here, to spend only as much as is absolutely vital in achieving the intended objectives, with the agency expected to propose a strategy that covers every aspect of a comprehensive campaign – whose budget will remain in a ‘to be decided’ status depending on the Agency’s ability to convince the Client of its undeniable benefits.
Agencies, on the other hand prefer to work backwards, suggesting the right action plan based on a ballpark figure, at least, so as to pinpoint a probable starting point for creative suggestions. The most vital element in the communication process, it gives a very real picture of what can and can’t be achieved. What marketers see as optimism and a matter of stretching the budget in order to get maximum bang for their buck, advertising agency’s often view it as delusions of grandeur.
Execution finesse depends on a sound budget. Procuring the right resources is integral to creative output, because quality comes at price. Squeezing the budget to achieve more quality may have a short term gains, but will have long term consequences that are often hard to shake off.
Among the most detrimental are poor brand image, lack of customer patronage, and a bad taste in the mouth of its target publics. Clients and Agencies part ways uncongenially, with the ensuing phase often involving slander from both sides, and an avowal to never partner again in the future.
Every communication malfunction is the consequence of a poorly written marketing plan, or the absolute defiance to even writing one. Marketers nowadays find it sufficient to verbally communicate them, simply because it ‘doesn’t really need a brief’, or a slew of reasons ranging from the unavoidable to the frivolous. Successful marketers go the extra mile to meticulously specify and clarify the organization’s wish-list, and there is no detail that is too little or too unimportant.
Clarity is the trump card of a flawless marketing campaign, while ambiguity is its ruin.