What Does A 30-60-90 Day Action Plan Look Like For A Marketing Leader?

30-60-90 Day Marketing PlanA 30-60-90 day action plan is a written outline of your strategy and plans you have for the first three months on the job.

It’s one of the most powerful tools you can bring to the final stages of the employment interview process. It can be a PowerPoint presentation or paper-based. During an employment interview, a hiring manager is looking for responses to the following basic questions:

  1. Do you understand what the job entails?
  2. Can you perform the job?
  3. Will you perform the job?

A good 30-60-90 Day Action Plan isn’t going to set you apart in the interviewing process — A great one will

30-60-90 Day Action Plan For MarketingA generic plan is a waste of time. Your plan should speak to the company’s needs, products, specific market, and values.

A fill-in-the-blanks template shouldn’t dictate what you include in your plan. Instead, use your knowledge of the industry and the specific company to craft a plan that speaks to its unique needs. The more details you can put into your plan, the better. Specifics matter so name the manager, the products, the customers as much as you can.

But when you are faced with a blank page for this critical document, having a few thought-starters doesn’t hurt. That’s when this 30-60-90 Day Action Plan for a senior marketing leader might come in handy. And it’s more specific than the original blog post I wrote a few years ago.

By taking the time to do a 30-60-90 plan right, you will communicate that you understand the job and that you’ll be able to hit the ground running.

30 days – Learning

Turn your product idea into an adOne common mistake of new hires is never taking the time to understand exactly what it is that the company is trying to achieve through their strategic plan. As a new hire, it is extremely important to put in the effort to study and learn the internal lay of the land.

People

  • Understand expectations of role and the department – written goals
  • Gain understanding of corporate goals and vision
  • Meet with peers and learn how marketing can help them be more successful
  • Meet with marketing team and schedule 1 on 1 meetings
  • Walk stores with manager and key team members – hear observations
  • Gain an overview of corporate, financial and team calendar/standing meetings

Product

  • Come up to speed on key new product initiatives – product, prototype, research, launch plan
  • Review depth & breadth of product lines including competition
  • Review category / brand / key account information and financials
  • Review online product presentation
  • Review existing sales tools and marketing programs
  • Review current pricing strategy/margin expectations

Sales

  • Reach out to key reps to introduce myself and learn about what they need to be more successful
  • Look at past Product Line Reviews (PLRs) and sales PowerPoint decks for key accounts – discuss outcomes
  • Visit key accounts and discuss the current sales proposition and effectiveness
  • Discuss any perceived gaps in the marketing strategy or product line
  • Develop understanding of opposing brands in space and why chosen

Marketing

  • Review current marketing strategy and gain understanding of current and planned projects, cost and expected results
  • Understand existing product/user research and related insights
  • Review budgets
  • Meet with key marcom suppliers, build rapport and understand current projects. Review if they are the correct supplier and determine how they can better add value
  • Learn corporate history and understand how that’s leveraged in current marketing
  • Review and understand current social media strategy and direction

Days 31 to 60 – Documenting and Building

Better way to budget marketingOnce you have taken time to fully assess the company, begin adding your strengths to the equation.

People

  • Continue to integrate with leadership team
  • Determine strengths and capacity of marketing team
  • Identify team gaps related to executing e-commerce growth and new branding
  • Refine, based on attendance/perceived value, standing marketing team meetings
  • Finalize budgets for 2016

Product

  • New Product Development process skeleton reviewed
  • Summarize wish list of new products
  • Begin refining commercialization plan for Tool Smart
  • Strengthen product slides for upcoming PLR

Sales

  • Travel with key reps on sales calls
  • Meet with customers of all sizes to see how the sales team positions and sells our products
  • Understand key customers customers for pull through opportunities
  • Gain further feedback from reps on how to be more successful with their customers
  • Develop understanding of how each account is priced/positioned against corporate objectives and against other competitive accounts

Marketing

  • Analyze sales trends at key customers for insights to share at PLRs (prioritize by meeting dates)
  • Initiate monthly business review meetings for top 3-5 accounts
  • Understand the ability to create in-store excitement or promotions and what’s been executed historically
  • Identify trade show opportunities and how to leverage new positioning and new products
  • Develop key points of difference between key competitors (product & marketing) with SWOT analysis
  • Position and promote launch of new website to sales & customers along with other marketing initiatives (branding, packaging, presentation templates, online initiatives, etc.) – to build excitement for the company’s future

Days 61 to 90 – Presenting and Prioritizing

Marketing Stats Can Tell A StoryBy this time, you should have a firm grasp of the role you play in the company. Your confidence is likely to have grown since your first day and leadership qualities are hopefully itching to be put to action.

People

  • Continue to integrate with corporate leadership team
  • Introduce future organization structure for marketing, e-commerce and product team
  • Share vision, goals and strategies for Marketing
  • Share with them their key job goals for 2016
  • Begin search for any new roles with written job descriptions defining the positions

Product

  • Review first pass of “current” product road map
  • Define process / research needed to uncover/refine next generation platforms

Sales

  • Share go-forward plan on e-commerce sales support/rep strategy
  • Share new sales deck with emphasis on leveraging brand story, new product innovation and new merchandising strategy
  • Feedback on product road map and launch commercialization strategies

Marketing

  • Create a road show for next key product launch
  • Refine and improve online presentation using all available tools
  • Begin execution of missing online tools, videos, secondary graphics, etc.
  • Leverage e-commerce programs to build partnership
  • Actively contribute and participate with marketing communications suppliers to execute current projects and scope new opportunities
  • Share feedback internally on any gaps in supplier capabilities or execution
  • Expand social media with automation and 3rd party content
  • Build out shelf strategy out using research/insights for compelling customer pitch
  • Refine pricing approval process, if needed

Your plan is a conversation tool, so when the hiring manager asks the first question that your plan addresses, that’s the perfect opportunity to discuss your 30-60-90 Day Action Plan with the hiring manager.

Good Selling!

Greg Bonsib is an author of the new Mighty Guides Ebook Data Disruption.

Does Marketing “Sell Dreams” and Sales Need to Make that “Dream” Happen, No Matter How Crazy the Dream?

Marketing DreamsIt’s been said to me that marketing writes the script but sales makes the movie.  Conceptually both sales and marketing should complement each another.  However, in reality both do not always meet eye to eye.  In other words, bad script…bad movie. An organization with maverick salespeople all off doing their own thing being managed four different ways will ruin even an exceptional Marketing Plan.

Looking at Marketing Through the Sales Lens

Looking at Marketing Through the Sales LensA sales rep needs to know how to position a product, set and manage customer expectations and be motivated to sell the product.  Sounds easy but does hard.

Why is this?

Most marketers, especially product managers,  understand their products inside and out. What they don’t understand is how this interacts with the sale rep’s role in getting it sold.

Sales Need to Make that Dream HappenSo, here are the “Questions You Must Answer for Sales” (in no particular order) for you to be successful as a marketer working with your sales team.  My thanks to David Shoaf for sharing these with me originally.

  1. What is the customer problem that your product is solving?  Listen up PM’s, this is not the laundry list of technical whiz-bangers you built into the product.  This is getting to the heart of the benefits (the value proposition) the product solves for the user.
  2. What are the critical qualifying questions I can use to confirm if my customer has this problem your product solves?  If I don’t know how to identify my customers buying criteria, I can’t effectively sell your product.
  3. What assumptions are you making about my customer’s business situation? What would drive the customer to adopt and use this product over any other solution that’s available to them?
  4. Who are the key competitors in this product segment? Who’s got the low price? Who’s got a unique solution? It is important to understand how you will position yourself in the market – and just as critical to understand how you will de-position the competition.
  5. What are the assumed customer buying criteria for the product? You should be able to be able to articulate the customer’s reasons to be looking at the market.
  6. Can you prove your claims? Coming to the selling situation with references, testing and other data points about the market, competitors or users adds significant credibility to me a sales person.  Kudos to many product managers for getting this one right more often than not!
  7. What drives the pricing in this segment? Which is likely to be the constraint – price, margin or inventory? What are the expected metrics: ROI, POS, etc.? Can my customer understand the pricing and ROI discussion in less than a minute?

Let’s be honest….I’m a sales person and I get measured on sales

knowing your competition better than they know themselves

So I have a few questions about how this new product will affect my metrics.

  1. What’s my plan? Are you giving me an unrealistic goal simply because you think this is a great product?
  2. What is the typical sales cycle for this product? How much time am I expected to spend selling it? Do I have exclusivity in my territory?
  3. Will this product cannibalize any products I sell now? If so, please explain to me how this is going to be handled.

The key here is alignment.  Sales & marketing executives should sign off on each other’s plan. The sales plan and the marketing plan should roll up hand and glove. Then you have accountability for performance.

What’s Your Advertising Agency Accountable For?

Hold your ad agency accountable for resultsAds, of course.  Lots of ‘em.  Creative ones.  Ones that win awards.  Ads your boss will love.  Ads the agency loves to work on.  Beautifully illustrated, brilliantly written ads.  Oh, and a media plan.  Carefully crafted for the highest delivery, more points, lower CPMs.

That’s all swell, except you don’t need ads or CPMs.  What you need are customers that are buying your product.  Unfortunately, what many advertisers fail to do is to hire an advertising agency for accountable results.

Amazingly, accountability is a concept that often strikes fear in the hearts of both ad agencies and marketing managers.

 in the hearts of both ad agencies and marketing managersIs that because the agency’s creative director is more interested in making “cool” ads than boosting sales?  Is your marketing manager more interested in going on the photo shoot than delivering customers?  Is the account executive spending more time on the fairway than talking to your distributors?

You may have heard (or even made) those kinds of accusations at one time or another.  But, in all likelihood, they’re unfounded.  The real problem is the lack of a plan.  Without a plan, neither the agency nor your marketing staff know, with confidence, what is expected of them.  The accountability for the advertising plan starts at the very top of your corporate ladder.

There are four essential links in the planning chain that precede the ad plan.  Like any chain, if you remove a link, it falls apart.  And, if you expect to make your advertising agency accountable, they need to be familiar with all the elements that provide the foundation for the advertising plan.

In order of occurrence and importance:

1.  Mission Statement – Whether you’re a billion-dollar public company or a half-million dollar retailer, you should have a straight forward mission statement that everyone – yes, positively every employee in your company – should know and understand.  In one simple paragraph, you should state why you’re in business.

2.  Strategic Plan – This is a three to five-year view of how you plan to achieve your mission.  It anticipates risks and opportunities in the marketplace, and strategies to prepare your business for them, through organizational structure, capital investments, distribution channels,  product mix, etc.  A strategic plan should be a continually evolving document, although one that changes too radically or too often is impossible to implement.

3.  Marketing Plan – The marketing plan is an annualized version of the strategic plan, emphasizing tactical implementation:  What do we want to do this year and how do we plan to do it?

4.  Communications Plan – One of the subsets of the marketing plan, the communications plan should incorporate advertising, public relations, employee communications and community relations.  It should clearly identify communications objectives, strategies and tactics.

5.  Advertising Plan – Finally, we’re there.  But don’t get too comfortable.  You’ll probably need multiple advertising plans, one for each campaign or each brand, product or service that you plan to advertise.

Who Is Responsible for the Advertising Plan?

The ad plan should be written by the agency – probably a team effort of the account supervisor, planner, creative director and media director.  They don’t pull the information out of thin air – the input comes from the client.  The ad plan encapsulates all of that input (often gleaned from days of meetings and pages of research) into a simple and brief document (not more than a couple of pages) that confirms the agency knows what is expected of them.  The plan should be presented by the agency to everyone responsible for approvals at the client company, and a consensus reached.

What’s In the Advertising Plan?  

Avoiding badvertisingThe advertising plan consists of a series of basic questions and simple, straight-forward answers to each.  Specifically:

Why are we advertising?  There is only one reason to advertise:  To create a fundamental change in consumer behavior.  What behavioral change are you trying to make with your advertising campaign?  Among the most common possibilities:  Cause consumers to buy your product and not your competitors’ products; Cause customers to buy your product more often; Cause customers to pay more for your product; or, Cause customers to visit the point-of-purchase more often.

“To increase sales” talks about internal goals, but doesn’t address changes in consumer behavior.  Similarly, “to improve our image” or “increase brand awareness” are attitudinal rather than behavioral changes that fail to address a tangible result.

Beware of multiple answers.  If you have more than one goal, you should expect the results of each one to be diminished accordingly.

The next two questions need insightful, unbiased knowledge of your marketplace.  Whether you commission your own research study, purchase syndicated research or get the data from a sophisticated trade association, it is essential that you reach beyond your own empirical knowledge of the marketplace.

Who are we talking to and how do they act?  This question combines quantitative and qualitative issues.  “Who are we talking to” is a matter of defining your target audience in every possible respect.  Traditional demographics (age, gender, income and geography) are essential data for a consumer media plan.  For a business-to-business plan, the answer must identify markets and/or industries, typical titles of buyers and influencers, etc.  The more narrowly you define the audience, the more effectively targeted the advertising can be, in both media and creative terms.

“How do they act” addresses behavioral issues.  For instance:  Are they skeptical, conservative buyers that demand proof or are you after early adopters?  Are they driven by practicality or status?

What do they think of our product/service/company?  Do consumers perceive your product as the best quality, most desirable, best value, lowest cost, market leader, prestigious, – or all the opposites?  Maybe they don’t think of it at all!  If you’re launching a new product, go further and identify consumers’ attitudes towards your brand.

What do we want them to think of our product/service/company?  How do you want your product positioned in the minds of consumers?  Should it change?

What is the competitive environment?  What other messages are consumers receiving from your competitors?  What threats or opportunities do they pose for your advertising campaign?

What is the single most persuasive idea we can convey?  This is sometimes called a unique selling proposition, or USP.  What is the most important reason someone should buy your product or service over your competitors’?  The answer should always be stated in terms of consumer benefit, not simply product feature.

Why should they believe it?  The last question was reason to buy, this is reason to believe.  Your ad makes a claim, back it up.  Offer a free trial, cite independent research, refer to past experience – the more real your claim, the more sound and credible the evidence must be.

What 3 to 5 words define the brand personality?  Brands, even institutional and industrial products, have personalities associated with them.  Words such as “elegant,” “tough” or “trustworthy” convey that sense of personality.  Researchers sometimes ask consumers about personalities in terms of animals: “If brand-x were an animal, what would it be?”  Answers to this question can be enlightening and frightening!

Bewitched ad teamHow will we know if the advertising was successful?   Finally, we’re back to accountability.  To answer this, you’ve got to go back to the first question about why you’re advertising.  Having identified that goal, how will you measure it, and what performance is acceptable?

If you want your agency to be accountable, you have to agree to a plan that everyone can follow, beginning with a mission statement.  Include your agency in goal-setting, and the budgeting process to meet those goals.

Let your agency know that they’re accountable for results, not for ads or CPMs.  What about those great creative ads and brilliant media plans?  Truth is, they’ll never deliver results without them.

Special thanks to Todd Steele for his help with this post.