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The Dance, Part Two: The Marketing Plan Approval Process

In my last blog entry, I started the discussion about the frustration many marketers experience when they attend “the dance” at the end of each year where they meet with the executives to get approval of their marketing plan. Most of these meetings end in anguish for a marketer who expects to get approval of their plan as-is; however, it’s not a healthy expectation to go to this meeting with that mindset.


This dance (er… meeting) is an opportunity for the marketer to get closer to the constantly evolving and somewhat confidential vision of the top leadership in the company. The marketing plan may be picked apart but the purpose is to align the recommended marketing approaches (based on the written business strategy and technology roadmaps) with the direction of the organization’s leadership. It’s also an opportunity for the executives to discover trends that connect with their marketplace. The outcome can seem like a mish-mash of tactics, but trust the process, as the result is most likely the best for the overall business.


In the last blog entry I provided two of four preparation tactics (Align The Business Strategy & Research Every Opportunity) to prepare your marketing plan. Following are the remaining two.


Determine Your Marketing Budget

Unless you have a significant product launch or brand initiative planned for the year, estimate that your marketing communications budget is approximately 2-3% of sales revenue. If you have a major launch planned, that percentage could rise to 3-5% (in some industries, it could be as high as 20%!). If your organization is spending less than 2%, consider this a red flag as it demonstrates they are not investing in the future, or they are putting the pressure on other areas of the business (service or sales, for example) to make up the difference. Even if you are the low-price leader, you still need to invest in getting the word out. The elements in your budget should be split between brand promotion (sales literature, website, brand advertising, social media labor), and lead generation (campaigns, direct advertising, events, direct mail).


Track Progress and ROI Quarterly

Once approved and distributed, revisit the plan and budget at least quarterly and report back to the executives. Make sure you have a system in place to track the metrics of each campaign. It may be challenging to track the value of some items such as brand advertising and sales literature, but account for their expenses and demonstrate the value.


The next time you show up to the dance and the executives start picking through your recommended marketing plan, keep the perspective that this experience is a healthy part of the business process. The executives of a company aren’t necessarily able to communicate the knowledge and tactics they are working on, but they do know a lot about the direction in which the company is going. Stay strong in your convictions, but remember that it’s their dance… let them lead.

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