How to write a marketing plan everyone can follow

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

We believe a good marketing plan helps make decisions to deploy the resources and provide a roadmap for everyone who works on the brand. You will learn how to write each component of the marketing plan, looking at brand vision, purpose, values, goals, key Issues, strategies, and tactics. We provide marketing plan definitions and marketing plan examples to inspire you for how to write each component. Our marketing plan workshop allows marketers to try each concept on their brand. We provide hands-on coaching and feedback to challenge their plans. Below, I will show you part of our marketing plan process that we lay out in our Beloved Brands book.

We offer unique formats for a marketing-plan-on-a-page and long-range strategic roadmaps. And then, we show how to build marketing execution plans. We look at a marketing communications plan, innovation plan, sales plan, and experiential plan. Your marketing plan will help give a strategic direction to everyone in your organization.

The annual marketing plan

I first came up with this “plan-on a page” marketing plan template when I led a team with 15 brands. It helped me see the big picture quickly, rather than having to hunt through a big thick binder. Also, the sales team appreciated the ability to see the entire plan on one page quickly. Most salespeople also had 15 brands to manage with each of their customers. Everyone who works on the brand should receive the one-page marketing plan. And they should keep it close by to steer their day-to-day decisions.

  • The analysis section lays out the summary from the deep-dive business review. Provide an overview of the top three points, which envelop what is driving your brand’s growth, what is inhibiting your brand’s growth, which threats could hurt your brand and what opportunities your brand faces.
  • The key issues and strategies section focuses on the top three issues getting in the way of achieving your vision, which you should put in question format. And the strategic solutions are the answers that match up to each of those questions. Set goals to measure your brand’s performance against each strategy.
  • The marketing execution section maps out the specific plans for each of the chosen execution areas that line up to most essential consumer touchpoints.

Marketing Plan Definitions

 

Vision:

The vision should answer the question, “Where could we be?” Put a stake in the ground that describes an ideal state for your future. It should be able to last for five to 10 years. The vision gives everyone clear direction. Write in a way that scares you a little and excites you a lot.

 

Brand purpose:

The purpose has to answer the question, “Why does your brand exist?” It’s the underlying personal motivation for why you do what you do. The purpose is a powerful way to connect with employees and consumers, giving your brand a soul. 

 

Values:

The values you choose should answer, “What do you stand for?” Your values should guide you and shape the organization’s standards, beliefs, behaviors, expectations, and motivations. A brand must consistently deliver each value.

 

Goals:

Your goals should answer, “What will you achieve?” The specific measures can include consumer behavioral changes, metrics of crucial programs, in-market performance targets, financial results, or milestones on the pathway to the vision. You can use these goals to set up a brand dashboard or scoreboard.

 

Situation analysis:

Use your deep-dive business review to answer, “Where are we?” Your analysis must summarize the drivers and inhibitors currently facing the brand, and the future threats and untapped opportunities.

 

Key issues:

The key issues answer the question, “Why are we here?” Look at what is getting in your way of achieving your brand vision. Ask the issues as questions, to set up the challenges to the strategies as the answer to each issue.

 

Strategies:

Your strategy decisions must answer, “How can we get there?” Your choices depend on market opportunities you see with consumers, competitors, or situations. Strategies must provide clear marching orders that define the strategic program you are investing in, the focused opportunity, the desired market impact and the payback in a performance result that benefits the branded business.  

 

Tactics:

The tactics answer, “What do we need to do?” Framed entirely by strategy, tactics turn into action plans with clear marching orders to your teams. Decide on which activities to invest in to stay on track with your vision while delivering the highest ROI and the highest ROE for your branded business.

Turning your key issues into strategies

Lay out the key issues that answer, “Why are we here?” by taking the summary findings of the deep-dive analysis and drawing out the significant issues in the way of achieving your stated brand vision.A great way to find the issues is to brainstorm up to 30 things in the way of your vision. Then, narrow down your list to the top 3-5 significant themes you see. Take the themes and begin to write the top issues in a rhetorical, strategic question format to prompt a few different strategic options for how to solve each issue. Spend serious thinking time on these questions because the better the strategic question you ask, the better the strategic answer you will get. 

Marketing Plan example of using the four strategic questions to focus the brand’s key issues

Another excellent methodology for finding key issues is to go back to the four strategic questions model I outlined in the strategic thinking chapters. This thinking ensures you take a 360-degree view of your brand. Looking at the example below, I have used the four strategic questions and come up with four specific questions that fit the Gray’s Cookies brand.

With various ways to brainstorm and find the issues I recommend for the annual marketing plan, focus on the top three key issues, which set up the top three strategies. A long-range brand strategic roadmap can typically handle up to five key issues, then five strategies. 

Writing strategic objective statements

You should start off by writing your strategic objective statement using the four components of the a + b + c + d model outlined in our Beloved Brands book. We go through four types of strategy, including your core strength, consumer strategy, competitive strategy and your brand situation.

a) The statement calls out the investment into a strategic program, with crystal clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion, or hesitation. 

b) You should provide a focused opportunity, which is the breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact.  

c) You must have a specific desired market impact to outline the market stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors, or influencers.

d) Finally, you need a specific performance result, linking the market impact to a specific result on the brand, either making the brand more powerful or more profitable.

Here are marketing plan examples of strategic objective statements. You’ll see how we use the a + b + c +d approach for the various types of strategies.

Writing your strategy statements

The method I use creates very long strategic objective statement first, before writing a pithier version of the strategic statement. You will notice the wording feels quite chunky and far too long. Once you have three steadfast strategic objective statements, you can narrow them down to a headline. 

How to lay out each strategy

Your effort in writing these clunky statements will not go to waste. Once you have decided on your top three strategies, you can lay out a specific slide to explain each strategy within your presentation. 

  • Include the clunky strategic objective statement (told you it would not go to waste). 
  • The goals measure the ideal result of this strategy.
  • Then, list three tactical programs, where you will invest your resources. 
  • I also insert a “watch out statement” to show I am proactively addressing any issue I feel could derail my presentation.

Get our ideal Brand Plan format in a downloadable PowerPoint file

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Our marketing training programs to help brand leaders reach their full potential

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Our playbooks will show you new ways for how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze your brand

  1. You will find new strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  2. To define the brand, I provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We show a step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  3. For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the marketing communications plan, innovation process, and sales plan. 
  4. To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution with chapters on how to write a creative brief, how to make decisions on creative advertising and how to lead the media choices. 
  5. When it comes time for analyzing the performance of your brand, I provide all the analytical tools you need to lead a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand.  

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand and be successful in your marketing career.

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

Click on any of the icons above to go directly to the page where you can buy our books. 

McDonald’s ad from new agency is out and there is a lot wrong with it!!!

Posted on Posted in Beloved Brands in the Market

McDonald's Advertising Big MacLast summer, McDonald’s made the news for their consolidation of all their agencies into one. It had an $800 Million price tag with Omnicom coming out on top. They added a unique tie to the overall sales impact. That is very uncommon for the agency relationship. As someone who spent 20 years on the brand side, I had some doubts that linking the agency’s compensation to sales might focus the advertising too much on the short-term. That is the first McDonald’s ad with its new agency.

McDonald’s has struggled with relatively flat sales results for the past two years. The only growth came when they turned their breakfast items into an all-day breakfast. Even that, has recently flattened out. The role of a Brand is to create a tight bond with your consumers, which will lead to power and profit beyond what the product alone could ever achieve. The problem is that when you just become a short-term sales machine, then who is building the brand?

McDonald's AdvertisingThe healthier the brand, the easier it is to sell from. Think of your advertising plan a little like those “leave a penny; take a penny” cups we see at a convenient store. The advertising must work to keep the cup pretty full. A strict product sell type ad “takes a penny” while an anthemic brand ad seems to “leave a penny” to be used later. I guess the problem I see is McDonald’s needs a few more pennies in the cup. They need to create a tighter bond with their consumers to have a healthier brand, to enable them to sell product from. I would have expected McDonald’s to come out with a few anthemic ‘brand spots’ to re-create the magical appeal of their amazing brand. Instead, this attempts to just sell Big Macs. It does not add anything. It just takes a penny from an empty cup.

Mistake #1:McDonald’s advertising is trying to be everything to anyone is the starting point to end up nothing to everyone

This brief clearly had “everyone” as the target market.

When you target everyone, then no one thinks the ad is for them. They each think it is for someone else. With a non-edgy rap song, teens will think it is a lame attempt to get 38-year-olds, while the 38-year=olds will think the ad is for kids. This music feels like a whole new music category I would call corporate rap. The visuals also support the “everyone” argument. One scene has a teenager in a library, while another scene uses a banker that closes a deal. This is what happens when you have “everyone” for every potential occasion on your brief.

Mistake #2: McDonald’s advertising is trying to move feet (go buy it) before they move the brain (positioning)

This brief clearly stated, “sell more Big Macs”.

They really needed a big new agency to produce this spot?  The biggest problem for McDonald’s is consumers no longer know what it stands for….is it a family restaurant, a coffee shop, a sandwich shop or a meeting place? What is it?  Sales have flattened. Evidence would suggest they have lost their way and need to get it back.  McDonald’s needs to define themselves in the mind of consumers. They need to pick one path, not a bunch of them at once. With a desperate need for brand repositioning, they ignore that with their first spot out of the gates that just sells the product. They should have led with a new brand spot to establish what they want their brand to stand for, whether that ties back to a prior positioning, updates their positioning or finds something completely new. What is the 7-second Big Idea you would use to describe the brand?

Mistake #3: This McDonald’s ad will have no impact on the consumer

This ad likely had “Recent data shows 25% of millennial consumers have never had a Big Mac.” as the business problem. What the brief failed to do was translate the business problem into a consumer problem.

Creative execution must amplify your brand story and brand positioning so that your brand stands out in the crowded marketplace, connecting with your most desired consumers so they will see, think, act or feel differently about your brand than before they saw the message. This ad does nothing. It attempts to reconnect with those who already know about the Big Mac and basically asks them to try it again. If you have never had a Big Mac, this ad does nothing for you.

What I wished McDonald’s had done was to figure out their Big Idea that reflects their inner brand soul. And then work to build a new reputation in the market the brand can stand behind.

McDonald's Advertising Beloved Brands

McDonald’s advertising needs smarter focus, definition, and execution

The problem many brand leaders have, is they come to a decision point, and they try to find a way to justify doing both. Sorry, McDonald’s. This is my second article this month that trashes your strategy and now your execution. I am a fan of the brand, I want the brand to be successful. My big ask is that you find some way to focus. Here’s the last article I wrote about McDonald’s unable to decide whether they want to completely re-build their kitchens to sell fresh expensive hamburgers or they want to completely re-build their lounge areas to sell more coffee.

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Rakuten Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

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McDonald’s is about to make the biggest brand strategy blunder of all time: fight two battles at once.

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

As of 2017, it is hard to really define what McDonald’s stands for anymore. Hamburgers or coffee? Or both? Whenever you try to do both options, you just picked the worst possible strategy.

The one thing I can safely say, is they are no longer “Fast”. On a cold Canadian winter, I called home and asked my son if he wanted a coffee on my way home. He said “sure”. So I got in the McDonald’s drive through line, behind only about 4 other cars. And after 20 minutes, I finally had my coffee. I was in complete shock. Does anyone do fast anymore? You would think in this day of hyper need states, someone would do fast.

Is all-day breakfast really a strategy?

The only success McDonald’s has had in the past 18 months has their all day breakfast, basically taking their normal breakfast foods and making it available 24/7. I guess for the next move they could make their fries available 24/7. And now McDonald’s has added bacon to their Big Mac Hamburgers and talking about it on TV like it is an “Oh my god, why didn’t I think of that” type of innovation.

Strategy choices: Hamburgers or Coffee?

A few days later, I read that McDonald’s was going to invest billions in 2017 to revamp the insides of their McCafe’s around the world. OK, so you want to take on Starbucks. Sure you have a great coffee, but plastic seats, fake fireplaces, annoying toddlers screaming on the floor, and the teenagers lurking around certainly does not make up for the great coffee. That will sure be expensive to replicate the appeal of Starbucks.

By the way, can anyone answer my question: how does Starbucks manage to keep toddlers out of their restaurants?

Then a week later, I read that McDonald’s was going to invest billions in 2017 to revamp their entire kitchens to be able to serve high quality and fresh meat in their hamburgers. Wow. I am big fan of Five Guys, In-N-Out burger, Shake Shack and Big Smoke Hamburgers. But, they are never fast. They each say they won’t start cooking your hamburgers until you order it. At Five Guys, you can see them even pull the hamburgers out and placed on the grill.

McDonald’s is about to commit the worst mistake a brand can do. They are about to fight a war on two fronts.

In the history of warfare, this is the most common mistake of every great general who has eventually gone down in flames. From the third century BC in the First Macedonian War to Napoleon to World War II, the war of two fronts never works.

By trying to be everything to anyone McDonald’s has ended up nothing to everyone. Despite all their efforts the past 5 years, McDonald’s is not perceived as the ‘best’ in coffee. Starbucks is. They don’t have the best burger. Five Guys does. They don’t have the best chicken, best shakes or best sandwiches. McDonald’s does not have the best anything. They aren’t even that fast, that cheap or have that great of service anymore. Getting a McDonald’s employee to say thank you is nearly impossible.

Strategy Myths

The biggest myth of marketing is to believe that a bigger target market is the path to being a bigger brand. Too many Marketers are willing to target anyone. The second myth is believing that if you stand for everything, it will make your brand stronger. There are brands that say they are faster, longer-lasting, better-tasting, stronger, cheaper and have a better experience. They mistakenly think that whatever the competitor does best, they will try to do it better. They are willing to say everything, hoping the consumer hears something.

Hope is never a strategy. The third myth is trying to be everywhere, whether that means being in every channel of distribution or being on every possible media option. The worst Marketers lack focus because of their fear of missing out on someone or something. By trying to be everything to anyone, the brand will end up nothing to everyone. By trying to be everywhere, the brand will eventually end up being no where. Strategy should never be random.

Every brand faces limited resources

Every brand is constrained by limited resources, whether financial, time, people or partnership resources. Yet Marketers always face the temptation of an unlimited array of choices, whether those choices are in the possible target market, brand messages, strategies or tactics. The smartest Brand Leaders are able to limit their choices to match up to their limited resources. They focus on those choices that will deliver the greatest return. I always joke that strategic thinkers share one similar trait with lazy people. Both spend a lot of effort to figure out how to get the most back, by doing the least possible.

The best Brand Leaders never divide and conquer out of fear. Force yourself to focus and conquer with the confidence of strategic thinking. The smartest Brand Leaders use the word “or” more often than they use the word “and”. If you come to a decision point, and you try to rationalize in your own brain that it is okay to do a little of both, then you are not strategic. You are not even a decision-maker.

Trying to both at the same time means you will lose at both. I can no longer tell you what McDonald’s stands for. Can you?

So if you were McDonald’s, would you choose to win the burger war or the coffee war? I’d pick burgers.

 

McDonald's Story Starbucks turnaround

 

To read about how to create a beloved brand, here is our workshop we run:

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

Beloved Brands is a brand strategy and marketing training firm that is focused on the future growth of your brand and your people.

It is our fundamental belief that the more loved your brand is by your most cherished consumers, the more powerful and profitable your brand will be. We also believe that better marketing people will lead to smarter strategy choices and tightly focused marketing execution that will higher growth for your brands.

With our workshops, we use our unique tools force you to think differently and help unleash new strategy solutions to build around. I believe the best solutions lay deep inside you already, but struggle to come out. In every discussion, I bring a challenging yet understanding voice to bring out the best in you and help you craft an amazing strategy.

We will help you find a unique and own-able Big Idea that will help you stand out from the clutter of today’s marketplace. The Big Idea must serve to motivate consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal connection with your brand. Equally, the Big Idea must work inside your organization, to inspire all employees who work behind the scenes to deliver happy experiences for consumers.

We will help build a brand plan everyone can follow. It starts with an inspiring vision to push your team. We then force strategy choices on where to allocate your limited resources. With our advice on brand execution, we can steer the brand towards brand love and brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

At Beloved Brands, we deliver brand training programs that make brand leaders smarter so they are able to drive added growth on your brands. We offer brand training on every subject in marketing, related to strategic thinking, analytics, brand planning, positioning, creative briefs, customer marketing and marketing execution.

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

Graham Robertson Beloved Brands

How to lead a deep-dive business review on your brand

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

Too many marketers are not taking the time to dig in on the analytics. There is no value in having access to data if you are not using it. The best brand leaders can tell strategic stories through analytics.  

Conduct a deep-dive business review at least once a year on your brand. Otherwise, you are negligent of the brand, where you are investing all your resources. Dig in on the five specific sections—marketplace, consumers, channels, competitors and the brand—to draw out conclusions to help set up your brand’s key issues, which you answer in the brand plan.      

Take a 360-degree look at your brand

  1. Marketplace: Start by looking at the overall category performance to gain a macro view of all significant issues. Dig in on the factors impacting category growth, including economic indicators, consumer behavior, technology changes, shopper trends, and political regulations. Also look at what is happening in related categories, which could impact your category or replicate what you may see next.

  2. Consumers: Analyze your consumer target to better understand the consumer’s underlying beliefs, buying habits, growth trends, and critical insights. Use the brand funnel analysis and leaky bucket analysis to uncover how they shop and how they make purchase decisions. Try to understand what they think when they buy or reject your brand at every stage of the consumer’s purchase journey. Uncover consumer perceptions through tracking data, the voice of the consumer, and market research.
  3. Channels: Assess the performance of all potential distribution channels and the performance of every major retail customer. Understand their strategies, and how well your brand is using their available tools and programs. Your brand must align with your retail customer strategies.
  4. Competitors: Dissect your closest competitors by looking at their performance indicators, brand positioning, innovation pipeline, pricing strategies, distribution, and the consumer’s perceptions of these brands. To go even deeper, you can map out a strategic brand plan for significant competitors to predict what they might do next. Use that knowledge within your brand plan.
  5. Brand: Analyze your brand through the lens of consumers, customers, competitors, and employees. Use brand funnel data, market research, marketing program tracking results, pricing analysis, distribution gaps, and financial analysis. Focus on managing your brand’s health and wealth.

Summarize your analysis to set up your brand plan

  • What’s driving growth? The top factors of strength, positional power, or market inertia, which have a proven link to driving your brand’s growth. Your plan should continue to fuel these growth drivers.
  • What’s inhibiting growth? The most significant factors of weakness, unaddressed gaps, or market friction you can prove to be holding back your brand’s growth. Your plan should focus on reducing or reversing these inhibitors to growth. 
  • Opportunities for growth: Look at specific untapped areas in the market, which could fuel your brand’s future growth, based on unfulfilled consumer needs, new technologies on the horizon, potential regulation changes, new distribution channels, or the removal of trade barriers. Your plan should take advantage of these opportunities in the future.  
  • Threats to future growth: Changing circumstances, including consumer needs, new technologies, competitive activity, distribution changes, or potential barriers, which create potential risks to your brand’s growth. Build your plan to minimize the impact of these risks.

Example using Gray's Cookies

Putting together your business review

This process assumes you will put together a presentation of 15-20 slides for your management team. 

Each of the five sections you go deep on should have 3-5 ideal slides. The conclusion statement at the top of each slide gets carried forward to a summary page for each of the five sections. You then draw out an overall conclusion statement for that section. You will have five conclusion statements, which you bring to the front of your presentation to form an overall summary page. From there, you draw out one major brand challenge you are seeing in the deep dive.

How to build each of the five analytical sections of the business review

A: For each of the five sections of your deep dive business review, use all the data you have dug into to draw out the three hypothetical conclusions. Then build one ideal slide for each conclusion, adding the 2-3 critical support points, and layer in the supporting visual charts. This type of analysis is an iterative process where you have to keep modifying the conclusion headline and the support points to ensure they work together.

B: Once you have nailed the conclusion headline for each page, you should build a summary chart for each of the five sections, which takes those three conclusion statements and builds a section conclusion statement. The example above shows how to do it for the category, which you can replicate for the consumer, channels, competitors, and the brand. 

Summarizing the review

C: For each of the five sections, take each section conclusion statement, move them to an overall business review summary slide, and draw one big summary statement for each of the five sections. 

D: Use those section conclusion statements to draw out an overall business review major issue, which summarizes everything in the analysis.C

How to build the ideal analytical slide

When telling your analytical story through a presentation, start every slide with an analytical conclusion statement as your headline, then have 2-3 key analytical support points for your conclusion. Provide a supporting visual or graph to show the thinking underneath the analysis. Finally, you must include an impact recommendation on every slide. Never tell your management a data point without attaching your conclusion of what to do with that data.

Read more about brand funnels by clicking here

Our marketing training covers analytical skills

You can find this type of thinking is in my books, Beloved Brands and B2B Brands

Learn how to think, define, plan, execute and analyze

  • You will find strategic thinking models and examples for each of the four strategic thinking methods, looking at core strength, competitive, consumer, and situational strategies. 
  • To define the brand, I will provide a tool for writing a brand positioning statement as well as a consumer profile and a consumer benefits ladder. I have created lists of potential functional and emotional benefits to kickstart your thinking on brand positioning. We explore the step-by-step process to come up with your brand idea and bring it all together with a tool for writing the ideal brand concept. 
  • For brand plans, I provide formats for a long-range brand strategy roadmap and the annual brand plan with definitions for each planning element. From there, I show how to build a brand execution plan that includes the creative brief, innovation process, and sales plan. I provide tools for how to create a brand calendar, and specific project plans. 
  • To grow your brand, I show how to make smart decisions on marketing execution around creative advertising and media choices. When it comes time for the analytics, 
  • I provide all the analytical tools you need to write a deep-dive business review, looking at the marketplace, consumer, channels, competitors and the brand. Write everything so that it is easy to follow and implement for your brand.

You will learn everything you need to know so you can run your brand. My brand promise is to help make you smarter so you can realize your full potential.

You can find Beloved Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo and Apple Books

Ideal brand plan format

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

brand plan formatThe brand plan process starts with a deep dive look that uncovers the issues of the business. Use your key issues to show everything in the way of the brand vision. Moreover, the issues help frame the overall brand strategies where you will deploy your limited brand resources. And from there, match up tactics that will deliver those strategies.

While I recommend you use our “Plan on a Page” format for your plan, I also know how PowerPoint is used to present and share your plan across the organization.

Below is our 20-page brand plan template

Figuring out the details of the plan

When you review our Brand Plan format, you will see all the essentials that you need to gain management’s approval of your brand plan.

  • Vision
  • Goals
  • Sales projection
  • Summary of the business review
  • Key Issues and strategies
  • Each strategy laid out in detail
  • Execution plan
  • Plan calendar that shows overall timing
  • Marketing budget

I’m also a big believer in getting your brand plan onto one page.

How to write a smart Brand Plan Marketing Coach Consultant Workshops

That’s a lot of information, but the plan should guide everyone that works on the brand: brand team, agencies, sales, R&D, Finance, HR and senior management. Everyone likely cares about various specific sections, but the brand manager should use the plan to bring everyone together. This is where our brand training program can help.

The power of 3’s: As we said earlier, the plan is about making decisions. We recommend that you narrow your effort down to 3 strategies and then 3 tactics for each strategy. That means 9 core projects for each brand to focus their resources on during the year. Compare the subtle difference that 5 strategies with 5 tactics for each strategy explodes into 25 projects that might cripple your brand’s resources. By doing less number, you will be focusing your limited resources on making each project has a big impact. When your team lacks time to do everything with full passion, they run the risk of turning out OK work that fails to connect with your consumers.

How to write a smart Brand Plan

Brand Plan Key Terms

  • Vision: What do you want your brand to be in the next 5-10 years? Vision gives everyone on the brand a clear direction, it should be measurable (quantitative) and motivating (qualitative). It should push you so much that it scares you a little, but excites you a lot.
  • Goals: What do you need to achieve? Specific measures of brand health and wealth, related to consumer/customer behavioral changes, metrics of key programs, performance targets or milestones on the pathway to the vision. It’s the brand scoreboard.
  • Key Issues: What is getting the way of achieving your vision/goals? The deep analysis highlights what’s driving and holding brand back, as well as future risks and untapped opportunities. Issues are asked in a question format to provide the problem to which strategies become the solution.
  • Strategies: How can we get there? Strategies are the “How” you will win the market. Choices based on market opportunities, using consumers, competitors or situational. Strategies should have a pinpointed focus providing a breakthrough on the pathway to the brand vision.
  • Tactics: What do we need to do to execute the strategy? Framed completely by strategy, tactical choices deploy your limited resources against brand projects, the most efficient way to drive a high ROI.

To read more about how to write a brand plan, click on this story below:

https://beloved-brands.com/2012/06/24/brand-plan/

Here is the workshop we run on How to write Brand Plans:

 

To learn more about this type of thinking, you should explore my new book, Beloved Brands.

With Beloved Brands, you will learn everything you need to know so you can build a brand that your consumers will love.

You will learn how to think strategically, define your brand with a positioning statement and a brand idea, write a brand plan everyone can follow, inspire smart and creative marketing execution and analyze the performance of your brand through a deep-dive business review.

Beloved Brands book

To order the e-book version or the paperback version from Amazon, click on this link: https://lnkd.in/eF-mYPe

If you use Kobo, you can find Beloved Brands in over 30 markets using this link: https://lnkd.in/g7SzEh4

And if you are in India, you can use this link to order: https://lnkd.in/gDA5Aiw

Beloved Brands: Who are we?

At Beloved Brands, our purpose is to help brands find a new pathway to growth. We believe that the more love your brand can generate with your most cherished consumers, the more power, growth, and profitability you will realize in the future.

We think the best solutions are likely inside you already, but struggle to come out. Our unique playbook tools are the backbone of our workshops. We bring our challenging voice to help you make decisions and refine every potential idea.

We start by defining a brand positioning statement, outlining the desired target, consumer benefits and support points the brand will stand behind. And then, we build a brand idea that is simple and unique enough to stand out in the clutter of the market, motivating enough to get consumers to engage, buy and build a loyal following with your brand.

We will help you write a strategic brand plan for the future, to get everyone in your organization to follow. It starts with an inspiring vision that pushes your team to imagine a brighter future. We use our strategic thinking tools to help you make strategic choices on where to allocate your brand’s limited resources.

Our brand playbook methodology will challenge you to unlock future growth for your brand

  1. Our deep-dive assessment process will give you the knowledge of the issues facing your brand, so you can build a smart plan to unleash future growth.
  2. Find a winning brand positioning statement that motivates consumers to buy, and gives you a competitive advantage to drive future growth.
  3. Create a brand idea to capture the minds and hearts of consumers, while inspiring and focusing your team to deliver greatness on the brand’s behalf.
  4. Build a brand plan to help you make smart focused decisions, so you can organize, steer, and inspire your team towards higher growth.
  5. Advise on advertising, to find creative that drives branded breakthrough and use a motivating messaging to set up long-term brand growth.
  6. Our brand training program will make your brand leaders smarter, so you have added confidence in their performance to drive brand growth.

To learn more about our coaching, click on this link: Beloved Brands Strategic Coaching

To learn more about our training programs, click on this link: Beloved Brands Training

If you need our help, email me at graham@beloved-brands.com or call me at 416 885 3911

You have my personal promise to help you solve your brand building challenges. I will give you new thinking, so you can unlock future growth for your brand.

Signature

Graham Robertson

Founder and CMO, Beloved Brands Inc.

 

 

 

How to build a smart brand plan everyone can follow

Posted on Posted in How to Guide for Marketers

A smart brand plan gets everyone on the same page. And, we have a one-page brand plan to help. That way, everyone drives against the same vision, key issues, strategies, and tactics. 

I will show you all the brand plan definitions, with examples and templates.  

Your brand plan makes choices on how to allocate your brand’s limited resources to drive the biggest return. The plan gains approval from senior management around spending, strategies, tactics, goals, and projects. Moreover, your plan aligns, steers and inspires all functional areas of the organization. 
Your brand plan aligns marketing, sales, finance, supply chain, product development, human resources and any outside agencies. Lastly, the brand plan even helps the Brand Manager who wrote it. Stay focused on delivering on what they said they would deliver.

Working through the flow of your plan

An effective Brand Plan answers where are we, why are we here, where could we be, how can we get there and what do we need to do. These 5 strategic questions gives you the analysis, key issues, vision, goals strategies, execution, and measurement. 

Brand Vision

A well-written brand vision should be the ultimate end-in-mind achievement, which answers, “Where could we be?” Think about significant accomplishments that would make you feel completely fulfilled. Put a stake in the ground to describe an ideal state for your future. Every smart brand plan must start with a brand vision statement. When I see brand teams struggle, they usually lack a brand vision. 

Some organizations get so fixated on achieving short-term goals; they chase every tactic in front of them just to make their numbers. Your vision should steer your entire brand plan. Choose language and phrases to inspire, lead, and steer your team.

A good vision should scare you a little, but excite you a lot

Use these statements to inspire you as you write your own vision statement. Maybe you will see something that feels familiar to what is in your mind or at least a structure for how you would write your own vision statement.

Once you establish your vision, it sets up the key issues of your plan, including obstacles in the way of achieving your vision, which then sets up the strategies for how to reach the vision. A brand plan has to flow like an orchestra, with each element directly related to the others.

Key Issues

Lay out the key issues that answer, “Why are we here?” by taking the summary findings of the deep-dive analysis and drawing out the significant issues in the way of achieving your stated brand vision. 

Use our Strategic ThinkBox to ask 4 questions:

  1. Start, by asking what is your your brand’s core strength. Make a decision on whether your brand will be product-led, story-led, experience-led or price led. 
  2. Next, ask how tight the bond is with consumers. Using our brand love curve, where does your brand sit? Is your brand at the indifferent, like it, love it or beloved stage? 
  3. Then, ask what is your competitve situation? Is your brand a power player, challenger, disruptor or craft type brand?
  4. Finally, assess the current business situation your brand faces. Use your analysis to figure out if your brand needs to keep the momentum going, fix it, re-align or are you at the startup stage. 

These 4 questions will give you a good start on your core strength, consumer, competitive, and situational issues.

Creating key issue questions

As we wrote our key issues in question format, then the strategy becomes the answer. Look how they match up. This brand plan example uses Gray’s Cookies, and this type of brand plan format can make a great brand plan template for you to lay out your strategies.

Strategy

The strategies in the brand plan answer, “How can we get there?” Each strategy must provide a clear, definitive answer to each of your key issues.

When I was in business school, I had a marketing professor who would say 15 times per class, “It is all about choices. It is all about choices.” 

Think of your brand plan as a tool to force you to make tough decisions. You have to apply your brand’s limited resources of dollars, time, people, and partnerships against an unlimited number of choices. It is easy to get distracted by more and more options. 

Use your brand plan process to limit their choices down to those that move your brand along the pathway towards your stated brand vision. Choose the strategic options that provide the highest return on effort (ROE) or the highest return on investment (ROI). 

Start with strategic objective statements

 

Start off by writing your strategic objective statement using the four components of our a + b + c + d model that we use for strategic thinking:

 

A: Call out the investment in a strategic program, with crystal clear marching orders to the team, leaving no room for doubt, confusion, or hesitation. 

B: Provide a focused opportunity, which is the breakthrough point where the brand will exert pressure to create a market impact. 

C: Achieve a specific desired market impact with a stakeholder you will attempt to move, whether it is consumers, sales channels, competitors, or influencers.

D: Drive a specific performance result, linking the market impact to a specific result, either making the brand more powerful or more profitable.

Writing the plan with the power of threes

I believe in “the power of threes.” Your brand plan should help you make decisions on where to focus and allocate your limited resources. As a guideline, for an annual plan, I recommend you focus on the top three strategies, then focus on the top three tactics for each strategy. 


That means nine significant projects for your brand to focus your limited resources against during the year. Compare the subtle difference with what happens when you try to do five strategies with five tactics: the plan quickly explodes into 25 projects, and seven by seven leads to 49 projects. That would cripple your brand’s limited resources. What if you never get to the forty-ninth project, but it was the most important project? With fewer projects, you will be able to execute everything with full passion and brilliance.

I see too many marketers with a long list of things they need to do. They are so busy; they have no time to think about what matters to their brand. You will have very little passion for any one particular project, trying to get everything done. This thinking is not the ideal behavior a brand needs to become a beloved brand.

How to lay out each strategy

Once you have decided on your top three strategies, you can lay out a specific slide to explain each strategy within your presentation. 

  • Include the strategic objective statement. 
  • The goals measure the ideal result of this strategy.
  • Then list three tactical programs, where you will invest your resources. 
  • Insert a “watch out statement” to show I am proactively addressing any issue that could derail my presentation.

Execution Plans

“What do we need to do to get there” matches up marketing execution activity to the brand strategy, looking at communicating the brand story, managing the consumer towards the purchase moment, launching new product innovation and delivering the brand experience. Use your brand idea to drive each of these key areas of the brand.  

Creating execution plans

For each execution investment, write a separate execution plan as an organizing tool to ensure everyone has specific marching orders on the particular strategy related to their function, leaving no room for misinterpretation. Every strategic investment you make deserves an execution plan, that might include a communications, retail, or innovation plan.

A brand communications plan answers seven questions. 

These questions steer and inspire the creation of the brand story work, so the brand communications work will establish your brand positioning, and motivate consumers to see, think, feel, do, or influence. The plan must answer the following questions: 

  1. What do we need our advertising to do? (Brand strategic objective statement)
  2. Who is in our desired consumer target? (Most motivated people to buy what we do)
  3. What are we selling? (Our main consumer benefit we stand behind) 
  4. Why should they believe us? (Support points to back up the main benefit) 
  5. What is our organizing brand idea? (Brand soul, essence or DNA for the brand)
  6. What do we want people to see, think, feel, do, or influence? (Desired consumer response)
  7. Where will our consumer be most receptive to see and act upon our message? (Media plan)

Bring everything together into a Brand Plan on a page

I first came up with this “brand plan-on a page” format when I led a team with 15 brands. It helped me see the big picture quickly, rather than having to hunt through a big thick binder. Also, the sales team appreciated the ability to see the entire plan on one page quickly. Most salespeople also had 15 brands to manage with each of their customers. Everyone who works on the brand should receive the one-page plan and keep it close by to steer their day-to-day decisions.

We have divided the plan into three sections

  • Analysis: The analysis section lays out the summary from the deep-dive business review with an overview of the top three points, which envelop what is driving your brand’s growth, what is inhibiting your brand’s growth, which threats could hurt your brand and what opportunities your brand faces.  
  • Key issues and strategies: The key issues and strategies section focuses on the top three issues getting in the way of achieving your vision, which you should put in question format. Moreover, the strategic solutions are the answers that match up to each of those questions. Set goals to measure your brand’s performance against each strategy. 
  • Execution section: The execution section maps out the specific plans for each of the chosen execution areas that aligns with the most essential consumer touchpoints.  

Now, you can get our ideal brand plan format

  • Get our ideal Brand Plan in a downloadable PowerPoint file that includes formatted blank slides with key marketing definitions where you can insert your own brand plan.
  • We include slides for vision, purpose, analysis, key issues, strategies, brand positioning statement, and execution plans.
  • You will get the one-page brand plan and brand strategy roadmap. 

You can find Beloved Brands and B2B Brands on Amazon, Rakuten Kobo or Apple Books

To purchase Beloved Brands or B2B Brands, click on the icon where you buy your books 

Beyond the MBA is our virtual brand management training program designed for the real world

You will learn how to think strategically, figure out brand positioning, write brand plans,make decisions on marketing execution and analytical skills.

This is your opportunity to gain access to world-class brand management training

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