marketing Archives — Carrington Malin

December 3, 2020
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You may have worked long and hard on your marketing plan, but how well does it support ongoing communication with your internal stakeholders?

The phrase ‘hearts and minds’ was first used by a French general during the French Indochina-Chinese border rebellion in the 19th century. It’s been used as a military strategy ever since, making emotional or intellectual appeals to the other side, in recognition of the fact that military superiority does not always provide the best or the swiftest victory in armed conflict. And, like many other military concepts, the ‘hearts and minds’ strategy was appropriated by marketing and communications strategists long ago!

However, marketing is by no means alone in borrowing from military strategy. Human resources has proved to be another big user of ‘hearts and minds’ and there are good reasons for this: budget and organisational dynamics. HR never receives the budget that it feels it deserves and so is forced to choose its battles carefully. Meanwhile, communications that put forth company ambitions, messages and cultural achievements simply fall flat if they are widely disputed in hushed tones around the water cooler. If internal stakeholders don’t believe and feel emotionally involved in plans, policies and practices, they’re far less likely to unite behind your cause.

And so it is with the internal communications from any department, marketing included.

Much of marketing’s internal communications routinely focuses on approvals and successes – i.e. the milestones at the beginning and at the end of any marketing campaign. Once the big bang of the final presentation is over and approvals are secured, participation of other stakeholders can fade away rapidly. Marketing plans, strategies and budgets are rightly presented as business cases for the careful consideration of decision makers. Far less effort tends to be invested in making sure that plans are easy to understand, highly useable and appeal to the ‘hearts and minds’ of other departments.

‘People just don’t understand marketing’

A common complaint of marketing heads the world over is that their work is so little understood by the rest of the organisation. There is scarce appreciation for all the work that goes into research, product positioning, creative concepts, or running effective campaigns. As a result, marketing successes are not always met with the thunderous applause that the marketing team believes is due! However, if your full year of internal communications consists of approvals and successes, then surely this is to be expected?

Accelerated by digital transformation and the breaking down of information silos, marketing and communications today not only maps to almost every part of the organisation, but also now shares data with it. All the more reason to have key internal stakeholders not only invested in approval and success milestones, but also emotionally and intellectually invested in the strategy and marketing activities themselves.

So then, am I trying to tell you that everyone in your organisation should be constantly referring to your marketing plan? No, but I am saying that your marketing plan should be a thoughtfully crafted communications tool that informs and supports marketing’s internal narrative throughout the year.

It should be something that helps frame marketing leadership’s communications with senior management, department heads, internal stakeholders, business partners and agencies. For this, your plan should be structured in a way that makes it easy-to-use, a valuable reference, useful to abstract from, and relevant to your wider audience of stakeholders.

Review your plan like it’s ‘external’

Ideally, your marketing plan will be pyramidal in structure – or a pyramid of pyramids – that presents key goals, findings and strategies towards the start and cascades more detail afterward. Ideally too, those top-level goals and strategies will be written in a self-explanatory way that is easily understandable by non-marketing professionals. If you strive to make your goals and strategies memorable and to clearly show relevance to the other functions in the organisation, so much the better. Anything that helps promote greater understanding of your goals, challenges and strategies has got to be a good thing, right?

A useful way to review your marketing plan is to imagine that you’ve written it for an external audience. Marketing content for external audiences normally goes through a very different process to internal communications. There tends to be a great deal of scrutiny of key messages and what perceptions will be formed by customers, partners, the media and other key audiences. The form, style, colour and simplicity of external communications are brainstormed, ideated, iterated, tested and optimised. In contrast, internal communications are often deemed as good enough if they are honest, free of typos and don’t over-commit!

Your annual marketing plan is a core document for marketing planning, budgeting and approvals. However, it’s a valuable communications exercise, helping to frame marketing’s internal messaging for the year. The more effectively your plan communicates your goals, plans and strategies, the more key points both marketing and non-marketing stakeholders are going to understand, retain and refer to later. Beyond the simple benefit of ensuring that everyone’s reading from the same manual, you may find that focusing a little more on ‘hearts and minds’ could even turn your internal critics into advocates. And wouldn’t that be something?

This article was first posted on Linkedin.

Also read: Is your marketing plan presentation the best it can be?


November 5, 2020
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Legendary marketing pioneer and author Philip Kotler defines brand positioning as ‘the act of designing the company’s offering and image to occupy a distinctive place in the mind of the target market’. Positioning is a critical component in the promotion of any venture, from advertising and public relations, to sales and customer relationship management (CRM), even having an impact on the structure and policies of growing companies. Founders tend to work hard on positioning their ventures, but a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.

In these days of Internet learning, it’s easy to read about the role of positioning, see examples of what it looks like and find out how to go about developing your own positioning statement. It’s something that’s top of mind for all founders, whether they realise that it’s positioning or not. Finding a process that works for you can help you crystalise your value proposition and create a clear positioning statement.

Nevertheless, developing strong positioning that differentiates your brand from competitors and aligns exactly with your business strategy, is easier said than done. Our end result in developing brand positioning is defining how we could like our customers to think and feel about our brand, but for this actually to be the case, positioning must work well across every aspect of our brand, marketing and communications.

If your business proposition is not receiving the recognition that it deserves, internally or externally, this could be due to a weak point in your positioning strategy. Here are five reasons why your brand positioning may not be working for you.

Continue reading this story on SME10x.com.


March 16, 2020
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These days, it doesn’t matter where you work or what you do for a living, marketing has changed as a result of Covid-19 and some may feel that their business has been turned upside down. Here are five ways to review and refocus your marketing effort.

While you naturally put the health and safety of your customers, employees and other stakeholders first, you’ll also be mindful that every business needs to take measures to ensure productivity, revenue and profit. However, the reality is that your customers are probably grappling with changes to their own lives at the moment. So, simply calling them up to find out if they would like to buy more of your new product or service could prove to be highly counterproductive.

Continue reading this story on SME10x.com.


January 6, 2020
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Now that the New Year has arrived, I’m not about to tell you how to develop your 2020 marketing plan. I’m guessing that this is, at least, completed in draft and perhaps already approved and has been used for other 2020 briefing and planning. However, could you improve your marketing plan’s presentation?

Although you may well have worked long and hard on your marketing plan, you may still be in the process of improving it before sharing a final version with your wider internal audience. Perhaps you intended to add a few tweaks over the holidays, or maybe you’re creating a shorter version of your plan in slide format to help communicate your plan internally. Whatever you choose to do, it’s important to have a marketing plan ready that is easy to understand for internal stakeholders across your organisation. We’re all ‘in marketing’ these days, so making the effort to improve your marketing plan presentation is time well spent!

Continue reading this story on Linkedin.