Our base of Client-Partners is made up of numerous companies from a variety of industries. Each one sells a unique set of products and services and follows a unique strategic approach. When we make the decision to engage with a new Client-Partner, a front-load term of our engagement is making sure that we are completely aligned with their business strategy before we start working on their marketing strategy.
In my previous blog post, I talk about how marketing strategy starts with business strategy and how if you don’t know your business strategy, no marketing agency can help you design an effective marketing strategy. Strategic marketing through quarterly planning follows this same line of reasoning.
Let’s say you’ve successfully gone through the process of identifying your business strategy, you’ve developed an effective marketing strategy, and you’re now ready to launch. This execution phase is where we encounter some real challenges. In many cases, we see businesses delegate the responsibility for the new marketing strategy to a marketing manager or outsource it to a third party. The mistake companies make here is that they consider the work done and don’t do anything to maintain the effectiveness of the strategy by adapting to changes in the market. They simply leave it “as is” in the hands of someone else.
As we all know, the winds of the market are always shifting and changing. The horizon, the marketplace, and all of the consumers within it are constantly evolving. In response, your business strategy should be changing over time and your priorities may differ from time to time. So, how do you accommodate these changes systematically in your marketing approach so that everything is in sync and working together toward making your business strategies a reality?
I’ve been a Certified Scaling Up Coach for over a decade now. One of the practices that I took from the Scaling Up methodology into Tulip Media was this notion that you need to create a rhythm of quarterly planning. All Scaling Up clients go through a planning ritual where they go off-site to work on the business for a full day or two every quarter. It’s a time to raise their head above the bow, observe how the markets have shifted, and set a fresh quarterly plan for their business.
The same approach can and should be used in marketing. At Tulip Media Group, one of the things we do with Client-Partners in our SMarketing program is instill a series of communication rhythms. We have weekly reporting that goes out, monthly face-to-face sessions, and tactical meetings where we block and tackle current marketing initiatives. These are all requirements for working with us. If potential Client-Partners can’t commit to these meetings, we opt not to take them on.
A cornerstone of our whole program is the quarterly strategy meeting. This is a two-hour Zoom call where we review everything we’ve accomplished in the last quarter via current stats and metrics, we discuss what has worked well and what hasn’t, and we talk more about the changing needs of the business. We look at what has changed or what is going to change within the business, whether it’s product or service offerings or new target market segments. We then work together to realign the marketing strategy with the revised business strategy for the next quarter.
The quarterly plan includes tactical components that need to happen within the marketing activities that are going on, but it also includes changes that we need to make in our marketing strategy as a result of the shift in business strategy. To accommodate these changes, we look at things our Client-Partners need to be doing on a day-to-day, week-to-week, and month-to-month basis to support business growth in the dynamic market atmosphere.
In that two hours where we step out of the day-to-day to analyze how things are going and assess current opportunities and threats, we secure that cornerstone rhythm. This is not optional. In order for us to do a good job, we want to make sure that we’re in sync with your business strategy, which is why this is a requirement for all of our digital marketing programs.
When you look at your own marketing initiatives, ask yourself if you are still aligned with your business strategy. What sort of routine ritual can you put in place to assess this on a regular basis? The quarterly planning rhythm is one extremely effective way to do that.
So, take those couple hours to remove yourself from the day-to-day, look around to find out what’s changed on the horizon, have those discussions, and set your plans for the next 90 days. Everyone leaves with their action items, and everyone contributes to reinforcing that alignment between your marketing strategy and your business strategy. At the end of the day, this process ensures much more powerful results.
As always, if you need guidance in this process, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. All of us here want to see you succeed at your strategic marketing initiatives, and we’d love to assess your company’s compatibility with our programs should you wish to use them for reaching your long-term growth objectives.