Marketing is 80% implementation and only 20% ideas

Marketing is 80% implementation and only 20% ideas

If I had a £1 for every time a colleague has approached me with marketing ideas I’d be a very rich man. People outside of the marketing department seem to think our greatest challenge is a lack of ideas. It’s not.

The greatest challenge in marketing is implementation. I’ve seen countless marketing amateurs hold numerous workshops and ‘blue-sky’ meetings to gather marketing ideas. And then nothing. Nobody had the skills, time or energy to actually implement the ideas on a sustained basis.

My view is that you should spend 20% of your time on ideas (including building a comprehensive marketing plan) and 80% on the implementation of your programme.

It’s a strange thing about marketing that a number of people think they can do their own job plus marketing. What qualifies the HR manager to make a decision about the target audience? How is the Head of Finance the right person to decide on social media strategy? And why is the Data Manager critiquing text in the new company brochure?

Throwing marketing ideas at the wall interrupts the plan. If you have done your research and written a marketing plan based on objective facts, then implement it and don’t change course just because someone has a new idea (which they probably saw on your competitor’s website, so you are probably following an idea that their receptionist put forward).

These new ideas are rarely costed, some people seem to think the marketing department has a bottomless pit of money – the implementation of a new idea will normally mean that something is cut from the carefully prepared plan.

When I’m approached by someone with a new marketing idea I ask five questions:

  1. Cost: How much is it going to cost?
  2. Time: How long will it take to prepare, implement and get results?
  3. Benefits: Beyond revenue, what are the benefits?
  4. Revenue: How much revenue will it generate?
  5. ROI: What’s the revenue divided by cost?

People normally can’t answer the first question and so the conversation ends quickly.

In my experience, preference is often given to the more ‘creative’ of the new ideas. The more wacky, the better. There is little thought given to whether the idea is relevant to the target audience or how it supports the rest of the plan. It’s a random, disconnected idea that has to carry the weight of success all on its own.

So if you are not in the marketing department and you have a marketing idea, write it down and post it to Father Christmas. He’s only active once a year and will have plenty of time to discuss it with you. Me, I’m busy implementing the marketing plan I finished 3 months ago.

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