For a marketing department to benefit from true strategic planning and the organized execution of established strategies, the leaders of the company must create a culture that not only expects, but also makes space, for these activities. Companies in the pet industry are moving at such a rapid speed that it’s easy to fall victim to the some of the most common marketing pitfalls that arise from a lack of time, space and knowledge on how to set strategies.
Steps you can take to support the development of a strong marketing strategy within your company include:
Provide a comprehensive strategic planning methodology that each department and every level of the company uses.
Establish a meeting system that supports the ongoing use of the approved strategy as a roadmap. Weekly tactical meetings, monthly strategic meetings and quarterly reviews are an effective framework to make sure your marketing strategy doesn’t get shoved in the proverbial drawer.
Start annual strategy planning early in the fourth quarter. We all know the end of the year is ridiculously busy – holiday sales support, product development for the next year’s launch, Global Pet Expo planning and more. But if you push planning into the new year, then the overall consensus will be “we don’t have time for strategy, we just need to keep moving.”
Align individual performance evaluations with the execution of specific portions of the approved strategy to reinforce ownership and accountability.
It is the role of the C-Suite to provide high-level direction for the company as a whole. Where are we going? What will be our focus on that path? How will we know when we get there? It is only with this vision that the marketing department can create objectives and goals that ladder up to your company goals. Transparency is necessary for success, otherwise your marketing department will create their strategy in a vacuum with little understanding of how their initiatives can impact the company’s success.
Additionally, by understanding the big picture, your marketing team will be able to identify the key performance indicators that will tell an accurate story about the strength of your programs. From top-of-funnel, vanity metrics to bottom-of-funnel conversion metrics, having the right numbers means you can chart a more accurate course to keep you aligned with overall company goals.
With a company to lead, there is no place for the C-Suite in the daily execution of the marketing strategy. However, there are key times each year when marketing requires your attention. No matter how busy you are, there are three times each year the entire C-Suite needs to devote their attention to marketing:
1. During the 4th quarter of each year, schedule time to review the past year’s strategy, including what the plan was, how effectively it was executed, whether it met the measurable objectives you were aiming for and what, if anything, were the barriers to success. Supporting the “post-mortem” allows for learning throughout the organization and increases understanding of the amount of resources needed for success.
2. At the end of the year, take time to help in the development of the next year’s marketing objectives. By having high-level, cross-functional involvement, you can better ensure full understanding of marketing’s priorities and its impact on the rest of the departments in the organization. This also allows for buy in from all areas of the company so there are no surprises down the road.
3. A mid-year strategic review is imperative to the final outcome of your marketing strategy. This is a time to review how the approved strategies have unfolded, which ones are working, which are not and to change course accordingly. Again, having the C-Suite involved increases understanding, cooperation and high-level buy in of all strategies, initiatives and timelines. This meeting should aid in an even more successful back half of the year.