Article Published On HuffingtonPost Business

As a manager of people, process, strategy, time, budget, ideas and all things digital marketing, I have seen in my career that strategies appear to be given more weight in the introductory phases when the thinking is going on, before the tactical heavy lifting starts — or shall I say, “is supposed to start.” Then the strategy tends to drift because the heavy lifting is being performed. Here’s a quick tip, don’t stop here, you must keep going.

The “thinking” in the introductory phase is really like a pre-implementation phase of a marketing strategy. This is a critical phase because it is the basis for how you move forward – like a blueprint for a house before it is built, the critical thinking stage of a strategy is when the problems are being defined and the solutions are also being discussed. Remember, nothing has actually happened yet except discussions and maybe some decisions on paper. A lot of time is invested in this phase and rightly so — But don’t stop there.

The ideas-to-strategy-to-execution process is like magic when the entire lifecycle is actually working and teams are engaged. 

However, when one part stalls, your employees are now thinking “oh-oh, here we go again, another projected started that is doomed for failure.” – This is one of the bigger picture concerns and real-life occurrences in businesses that fail to keep the ball rolling. Is it a staff issue, communications or could it be lack of connecting the business and marketing plans to reach common goals? Both of these need to work together in order for true success to occur.

In my opinion, it’s not just the strategy that’s important, it’s the ongoing management of the strategy that is the fuel for the engine to run, gain speed and continue the momentum in the right direction, which is so valuable. Also, a marketing strategy is not just for the marketing department. All areas of a company are required to play an important role in executing any strategy. But… who’s managing all of the cross-functional areas in the company to make sure the strategy is being followed to the letter? Hmm… This is typically one of the areas that breaks down quickly and is very difficult to bring back to high efficiency status. So make sure your strategy is being managed well. It’s not just a plan on paper that looks good in the beginning and then sits on a computer somewhere. It must come to life once it starts and continue to be fueled with energy and passion throughout the entire engagement.

I have seen breakdowns occur when a good marketing strategy is not in-line with the business plan and nobody is managing the entire process. This is common when big picture business objectives and expectations are not clearly communicated. 

Do Employees Know What’s Happening In Marketing?

My suggestion is to make sure your marketing strategy is clear and actionable by all departments. Every department should know their role and have a tactical, measurable outcome. Additionally, this is a very difficult and somewhat daunting task because if there isn’t a person managing the big picture direction as well as the in-the-trench activity for each department, the strategy just won’t work. This is usually one of the toughest things to accomplish because other departments are managed by other people and have their own goals and objectives. If you’re on the marketing team, start with having an event in the company twice a year with the goal of informing the employees. Here are a few topics that should be addressed. Let everyone know what you are doing, what the marketing looks like, why you are doing it and how you think it could be effective for the business.

If your company is trying to implement a new marketing strategy, don’t forget to assign someone the job of managing it; you will be so glad you did.

Here’s a hint… Managing the strategy also means that person or group of people assigned to manage the strategy must have enough power in the company to alter the course of what they see if it appears to be incorrect and take appropriate action, even when that department and people affected do not work for them. This typically does not happen because companies tend to be siloed and marketing is just another department. Because the marketing strategy is an overarching body of work that impacts the entire business, the work that is performed should supersede other departments. Additionally, the brand is bigger than any department and employee, and marketing’s job is to manage, preserve and protect the brand.

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