Planning For 2021? Remember the 6Ps

I read all of Steve Olenski’s articles, including The 2021 Marketing Disconnect (which includes a reference to Yogi Berra…how can it be bad?).  I agree with Steve’s contention, but I find major fault with the actual survey and not the results from Altimeter.  What’s “my ish”?

Their survey reflects 13 “marketing objectives” that CMO/marketing types chose as their leading objectives for 2021.  Again, I agree with Steve…some challenging choices were made.

BUT…to me…the primary question is flawed.  The choices are a mixture of objectives, plus strategies and tactics. Some are mere wishes. Really, a few bad options to pick from.  Any CMO or marketing leader who told me their primary objective for the next year was “Brand Awareness” or “develop brand reputation” would not have a job very long.

What’s the answer to a successful 2021?  A clear plan.

I propose remembering the 6P’s: “Proper Planning Prevents Piss-Poor Performance.”

And proper planning takes some work and for me, comes in the form of a GOST PLAN:

What the Hell is a GOST?

Goals -> Objectives ->  Strategies -> Tactics.

GOST is a business planning concept conceived by Strategist Rich Horvath (I don’t personally know the guy) and taught to me by a few former fearless leaders I worked for.

Let’s break down and clean up Steve’s list from the Altimeter survey as a potential GOST plan:

“GOALS” should center around specific numbers.  In the end, ALL business is about making money. One of the overall goals could/should be a REVENUE TOTAL.

Each department of a business or brand should craft their own GOST plan.

Senior leadership goals can be quite different from the goals of say: marketing, sales, logistics, etc.  But they all tie into the bigger picture plan.

In the marketing department, that goal can be the number of customers, number of subscribers, etc.  But a specific number.  How much growth is the goal for the year?  What does success look like?  10%?  30%? 50%?  Unless you pick a target, you don’t know if you’ve succeeded.  It’s like me saying I want to lose weight.  Great…but 5 pounds or 50?  Your plan will be completely different for either goal.  I want more brand awareness!!  I’m happy for you, but define what a great year’s effort looks like?

The “OBJECTIVES” in the Altimeter Survey are really the top two:

  1. Acquire New Customers
  2. Increase revenue/share from existing customers.

These two comprise the two types of customers the brand can target to grow their revenue and/or customer count.  Now you need to develop “how” you’ll achieve the two. Hence…

The “STRATEGIES” is a list of broad ideas under each objective.  What would you do to get new customers?  What would you do to get your existing base to buy more?

Launching a new product can be used for both. (candidly a new product launch could also be an objective of leadership, but I digress) Creating a memorable digital customer experience also fits under either. Developing brand reputation by raising targeted attributes is great for either…or BOTH!  Helping customers on-board is a perfect strategy for new customers.  Converting marketing leads to sales leads is also a solid part-of-the-plan for new customers.

The “TACTICS” come in the form of actionable steps you can measure, activate and review.  Add timelines to keep you on a specific path.  Following one of the examples used in this essay, let’s try to develop some tactics for “Helping customers onboard”.  What would you do?

  • Hire extra live phone operators?  By when?
  • Roll out the AI chatbot on the brand website?  By when?
  • Create YouTube videos showcasing product usage…but again, when will storyboard them?

When will they be created and then posted?  And what are the steps to have the videos be shared with new customers?  Is it an email alert? Highlighting on the website or APP?

All part of the proper planning to see the onboarding strategy succeed; that ties into the objective of acquiring new customers with a goal of a high number of overall customer growth.  See how this works?

Yes, it’s more work.  When I heard about it the first time, I personally thought it was a fire-drill by senior leadership…until I started working out my GOST plan for the part of the company I led.  It made sense, gave me purpose and clarity on what was important, what needed to be done, and done by when…and what we should, achieve at the end.

Yes, your tactics could dramatically change.  Some things you try WILL NOT WORK.  You may have new ideas, need to change strategies due to market conditions, new competition, etc.

One of the benefits of the GOST plan is it allows you to work with other departments and review your team’s progress in a very clear way.  Are we on time? Are we growing to what we said we wanted to achieve?

One lesson I learned is you really don’t need many objectives and strategies.  Just  a few that are well thought-out.  You can’t focus on too many things at same time…and do them well. The tactics will change a lot, but they should.  Try new things, right? Stop doing things that don’t work.

But back to the survey for a second.  As we have learned the past few years, pollsters are not regularly right.  In many cases, it’s due to asking the wrong question or maybe asking in the wrong way.

Maybe getting a more accurate useful survey is a good goal.  Now what’s the plan for that?

Photo by Olya Kobruseva from Pexels

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