Marchand--Coherence - Putting The Pieces Together
The objectives constitute a second element of the plan. These are the intermediate steps that must be accomplished to make possible the realization of the goal. These may vary widely, but here are a few examples:
- Branding the company—making its identity clearer and better understood in selected markets;
- Developing and selling a new capability, product or service;
- Opening a new sales territory;
- Redefining territories or reassigning accounts;
- Hiring and targeting new reps;
- Improving job-related customer communications, such as CSRs, e-mail and Website.
Research, the eyes and ears of our plan, is the third element. It provides the information needed to justify and establish the goals and objectives. Research about demand, about customers and prospects, about competitors.
Each of these components seems obvious and, arguably, the content of some are outside the purview of marketing—setting sales goals and hiring sales reps, for example. True, this may seem obvious but, unless the goals and objectives are specified in the marketing plan, dollars spent on communications are unfocused and vague.
I never cease to be amazed by the many plans I see that include entirely worthwhile activities—publicity, lead generation, advertising, direct mail—with no clearly defined objectives and no links to the goal to be achieved. Programs based on such plans can't be evaluated and, therefore, are not subject to improvement.
If it's not clear what a program is to accomplish, how can you know when it's successful . . . or not? How can you measure return on investment?
This suggests the fourth necessary element in any plan: a formal review, an evaluation process that measures the activities against objectives and goals.
And one last point: Resist the temptation to create a plan by going directly to a list of activities, the budget to conduct the work and a superficial justification for the expenditure. Start with the elements that provide coherence. This approach will also win a much more sympathetic hearing from the CFO and CEO, who review plans and authorize expenditures.