In an ideal world, there would be distinct phases between planning and production allowing marketing teams to create and analyze their plans before production and execution. However, this is not reality as marketing departments are constantly dealing with building plans for upcoming events and executing near-term activities along with addressing changes to active plans. Due to the variety of marketing channels and the chaos around planning and execution, some marketing teams have diminished the concept of planning and are solely focused on dealing with execution. Additionally, marketing teams have shrunk, and the marketing department has to execute more to reach their audience across different mediums.
This has caused the marketing and content departments to operate in more of a reactive than a proactive manner. There is less time to plan and more emphasis on execution which unfortunately does not yield the optimum performance and exhausts the marketing team. Instead, a planning and execution methodology known as the Marketing Rhythm should be implemented by marketing operations to ensure a proactive planning process.
What is the Marketing Rhythm?
A marketing rhythm is a set of cyclical processes the marketing operations team implements to ensure planning, execution and performance analysis optimize investment. This set of processes set up inputs and outputs within the different stages of the cycle transforming your marketing team to be more of a proactive than reactive operation.
How to establish a Marketing Rhythm for your operations
In order to establish a marketing rhythm within your operations, you need to start by defining your annual marketing plan before the fiscal year commences. This is done within a marketing planning calendar where you can layout your marketing or content strategy and campaigns for the entire fiscal year. This top-level plan is defined by the CMO and marketing strategy team to line up with the overall business strategy. It also outlines the top-down marketing budget and allocates funds to priorities for the year.
The annual marketing plan’s goals and initiatives are then broken further down into seasonal or quarterly initiatives. This would include defining seasonal events and product launches that align with the annual marketing plan and business goals. At the same time each season or quarter is allocated a certain budget of the annual marketing budget for their campaigns and activities. The framework of the seasonal or quarterly plan is typically built at the annual level and details are then incorporated before the season or quarter commences.
During the start of every season or quarter, every month’s plan within it is well defined. The monthly plan is further detailed during the season or quarter and prior to the month. This would include information such as which marketing channels will be leveraged to support the specific campaigns and what will the messaging be along with the duration of the activities. Also a budget is allocated to each activity within the monthly plan and aligning with the allocation of the seasonal or quarter’s budget.
Execution is performed at a weekly level where depending on the channel, some of it may be very close to the live date while others may be well in advance. This is the process where marketing operations teams create project plans and look at which resources are available to perform the creative and copy along with determining distribution plans. Additionally the teams are engaged in developing the marketing collateral, reviewing and distributing or publishing the content.
Think about your meeting cadence
The key to the marketing rhythm is setting up a meeting cadence that aligns with your annual, seasonal/quarterly and monthly planning. These should be predefined meetings that are on the marketing team’s calendars with key stakeholders. For these meetings you need to also determine what are the inputs to building each plan and what is the expected output.
Handling Changes to Plan and Implementing Controls
Developing plans should not restrict you from having to make changes when needed. It is vital for marketing teams to be able to shift in a situation a new trend emerges or if the businesses goals change. Incorporating controls allowing for changes to a certain point before execution and then locking the plans is essential to help manage the planning process.
Several marketing teams spend 80-90% of their time on the execution phase which is a highly reactive approach. With a marketing rhythm the operation transforms to being proactive and allows the team to think more strategically and execute based on a controlled process. This will improve the return on your marketing investment and ensure resources are well deployed for execution.
To understand more about how CrossCap’s marketing planning software is used to help marketing operations teams transform to become more proactive and facilitates the marketing rhythm, request a demo.