May 02, 2016

5 Year Plan

It is rare to meet a marketing leader who has a multi-year growth plan. Plenty of tactics? Absolutely. But no plan that shows cause-and-effect, demonstrating that they will grow the business to "x plus 30%" in five years.

Name one vendor in the industry who creates a five year sales plan for your business, showing you the impact customer acquisition has on growth vs. targeting of marginal names? You can increase response on a marginal name from 0.8% to 0.88% and the industry cheers their digital initiatives ... but you end up with 2,000 more customers. 

You need 200,000 more customers.

Then there's the poor marketing exec. Geez.

All too often, the marketing leader is a pinball ... sent into the game by the CEO, battered by the flippers known as the Chief Merchandising Officer and Information Technology Guru (who all-too-often thinks he is running marketing for the company - #datadriven) ... running up ramps and hitting bumpers and basically being knocked silly on a repeated basis. You only get three lives in pinball ... each life is like a year. And then, the marketing leader is done. Most of the time, the score isn't very high ... so it is as if the poor marketing leader didn't even exist. The company just sticks another quarter into the machine, and hopes for the best.

Don't believe me? Sit in an Executive Meeting sometime, and watch the dynamic between the marketing leader and everybody else. Not a lot of respect in the room, folks.

It does not have to be this way.

It's time for leadership.

You are going to share a five year plan with your Executive Team, your Marketing Team, and the Brand Response Marketing Team you will lead.

At this time, the five year plan is mostly theoretical. You'll show a 10% increase in new customers in year one, a 20% increase in new customers in year two, and a 30% increase in new customers in years three, four, and five.

You'll show your base plan (same tepid performance as previous).

Then you'll show the plan with customer acquisition increases.

You'll say that this is what you are going to deliver. You, your marketing team, and your Brand Response Marketing Team.

You'll show how every Executive earns greater bonuses when your plan is followed.

Best of all ... they don't have to do a thing ... other than contribute one leader to your Brand Response Marketing Team ... and not block your initiatives. This is where you purposely stare at the Information Technology leader and your Website Operations leader ... stare for effect. You need 'em more than they need you ... but they've run all over every marketing leader, blocking their efforts. You need to establish a spot on the pecking order. If you don't like what I've outlined here, use your own professional skills to find another way.

Or don't set the tone, whatever.

But our industry is on year ten of being hijacked by best practices, omnichannel strategy, vendor agendas, encouragement to use as much paper as possible, and 65 year old optimized names from co-op models created by 28 year old data scientists. How did that work out for you?

Communicate that you are going to grow new names this year and early next year using existing tactics.

Communicate that you will be testing new ideas for the next two years.

Communicate that you will reinvent a large fraction of customer acquisition strategy in years three through five, courtesy of your brand response marketing team.

Then do not stop communicating, ever. Constantly communicate your five year plan, and how you are progressing against your five year plan.

Stop being the ball in the Executive Pinball game.