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January 17, 2017

Strategy & Planning are Easy… Marketing Execution is Hard!

Hard & EasyOK, strategy and planning are not easy… not even a little. They require focused time and critical thinking – two assets often in short supply around the office. But once they’re done… they’re done. Then the real work begins.

I was out of town last Thursday and Friday working with a new client. It was for two days of coaching on marketing strategy and planning… helping them to focus their business development efforts then putting in place some targeted tactics to execute over the coming months. And it went really well.

Now the question is… will any of those agreed-to tactics actually get executed?

Note: this is not an indictment on this particular client – in fact, in this case, I’m confident the work will get done – but more of a comment on businesses, in general.

It’s the age-old issue of taking the time to create a marketing plan… then watching it gather dust on the shelf as it goes “un-implemented.” Why does that happen?

Based on our experience observing these non-implementers for several years, here are 6 reasons why marketing execution fails…

  1. No top-down commitment. Like pretty much everything else in a company, if senior management is not involved (at least to some degree) in the process and committed to making it a success, it’s just not gonna happen.
  1. Creating the plan is a rote activity. Every year, like clock-work, you go through the process of creating a marketing plan – so you can say that you have one – and it just sort of stops right there. But hey… you’ve got a plan!
  1. The plan is too complex. When it comes to marketing plans for small-to-mid-sized businesses, keep it simple. Focus on a handful of key activities and do them right. Which is far better than having 25 activities in the plan… and doing none of them well.
  1. No assigned responsibility. Every activity – in fact, every step of every activity – must be assigned to someone in your firm who becomes responsible for its timely completion. For example, you can’t just say “Create and send an e-newsletter.” Who is responsible for writing it? For designing it? For reviewing and approving it? For blasting it? And for tracking the metrics?
  1. No accountability. Without top-down commitment (#1) and assigned responsibility (#4), there is no accountability. And with no accountability, nothing gets done. Make sure that the people involved in execution do what they’re supposed to do when they’re supposed to do it.
  1. And the #1 reason marketing execution doesn’t happen is… “We’re too busy!” That’s not a reason… it’s simply an excuse! What is really means is that marketing is not a priority for you (I’ll bet you never say ‘no’ to taking on a new client because you’re “too busy!” or forget to send your invoices out because you’re “too busy!”). To be successful at marketing, it MUST be as high a priority for you as every other core business function!

So, as you move into 2017… if you don’t have a strategy and plan, block off some time to work on them. Then commit yourself to marketing execution… a little bit every day.

Good luck.


Not sure how to get started with your strategy, plan or execution? We can help. Reach out to me at

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