For most professional service firms creating a marketing system is not a onetime project with a definite begin and end period. Rather, it is an iterative process, where we work on adding a new component to the system, improve an existing piece, and perhaps remove a component that is not performing.
This need for an iterative process is driven by several factors including the complexity of creating a system, the need to change and adapt, and the reality that more often than not, the marketing function is being performed by someone for whom marketing is just one of the many hats they wear.
In my opinion, one of the essential keys to success in managing an iterative process is to have a well defined review process in place. Whether you are solely responsible for marketing, or work as part of a team, a strong review process will help you stay on track with your big picture goals while you wrestle with the challenges of implementing tactics on a day to day basis.
I am not a big fan of long, drawn out review sessions, so I have to tactics that I like to use to keep marketing review sessions useful and efficient. The first is to hold review sessions on a fairly frequent basis. If you are just getting started, I would recommend doing them monthly. Quarterly is better than not doing them at all, but I find quarterly meetings tend to run long and wander a bit.
The second tactic I use is to follow a four step process in these sessions. I find that the combination of following the same process and doing it on a regular basis makes for a efficient and effective marketing review process. Here is an outline of the process I like to follow:
During the first phase I like to review the assumptions and strategy that make up our plan as well as any lessons learned.
Assumptions – all plans are based on assumptions using the best information available at the the time. One of the first steps in your review process should be to review those assumptions and determine if they are still useful for your planning purposes.
Strategy – I find it is helpful to restate our marketing strategy at the beginning of the review meeting as it helps us keep the big picture of what we want to accomplish in mind.
Lessons Learned – what did we learn since the last meeting. This could be anything from mistakes made, news about competitors, feedback from customers, etc.
In this phase we want to make changes to our marketing materials, milestones, budgets, metrics, and our marketing calendar.
During the plan phase, we get ready for the next iteration. We create and assign milestones, identify resource needs, map out timelines, etc.
Now it’s time to “do marketing” again. During this phase we continue executing our regular tactics and work on implementing the ones outlined during the plan phase.
Consistence use of a review process is essential to the creation of a successful marketing system. If it is not on your calendar already, schedule a marketing plan review session today.
Bill Brelsford is the owner of Rebar Business Builders. As an Authorized Duct Tape Marketing Coach, Bill works with professional service firms and independent professionals who want to spend less time chasing business and more time serving profitable customers.