Get your breath back. Part 2 – What’s the plan? And what’s it actually planning for?

Challenge 2. My budgets are approved too late!

The first blog in this series taught us that senior marketers need strategy, and that they think it’s important to be creative and innovative. Yet, the findings of our Breathless Business report show us that marketers are struggling to find the time to innovate, and they’re not seen as strategic by the businesses they should be pushing forward.

Unfortunately, it seems that at the very time the marketing department ought to be breaking new ground and planning for the future, it’s stuck in the past. To compound the problem, marketing is overly safe in its thinking and is spending too much time making decisions, and not enough time actually doing things.

A big part of the problem is a conflict between budget, strategy and time. Three things every marketer needs to get a hold of.

One step forward, three steps back

In the melee of modern marketing, many have almost forgotten what strategy is and what it should do. Keeping pace with change too often means losing the capacity to plan. And the marketing planning process is under constant threat from the day-to-day job.

It all means that today’s marketer faces a big challenge in finding the time to develop strategy, define what it is and understand how it’s going to align with wider business goals. Yet with business operations lagging behind the strategy they should be working towards in many B2B organisations, marketers can often feel that they’re behind before they’ve even started.

To get back onto the front foot, marketers need to reframe and rethink strategy – remembering what it is in its purest sense.

Strategy is defining the approach you’re going to going to take with marketing to deliver on business needs. Importantly, while the scale and detail of strategy might be cost dependent, it’s not wholly contingent on budget. In fact, believing that it is a cost thing shows that you’re thinking about strategy in too operational terms – a symptom of the problem, rather than the cause.

Loosen up a bit

The Breathless Business report told us that marketers want to be more intelligent in their decision-making, their planning and their strategy. But, at the same time, 57% of marketers believe their strength comes from a clear plan, based on a fluid strategy, that doesn’t set all marketing and comms work in stone.

This mix of structure and fluidity is key. Everyday business is never plain sailing. But that shouldn’t be another obstacle to add to your woes and stop you doing marketing’s main job of addressing commercial challenges head on and moving the business closer to customers.

The essential message is to build strategy. But to make sure it’s able to move according to the budget and business reality you end up with.

Looking ahead costs nothing and the business will thank you for it – believe us.