Execution is the difference between good results and great results. You can have the best plan in the world but if it’s not executed properly you won’t get the results that match.
In fact, you could get mediocre results from a really well-designed plan.
Implementing a plan requires a completely different skillset. This can be why strategic plans don’t see the light of day after they are created.
A plan can be intimidating. It has all these different components that need to be executed. You look at it and think, “Where do I start?”
It’s why plans get put away never to be seen again but what good is a plan if you don’t execute it?
I know this seems like a strange question but this is exactly what happens sometimes. Organizations take the time to plan and then it sits on a shelf gathering dust.
Last week I talked about the importance of having a strategic marketing plan. This week we are going to talk about plan execution.
It All Works Together
We’re going to assume that the plan solid which means that the only thing you need to worry about is plan execution.
I’ve talked about the fact that I want to know an organization’s goals because it helps create a better plan. This is because the marketing goals tie to the business goals.
As we go down through the plan, the marketing objectives are going to tie to the marketing goals. Finally, the tactics are going to tie into the objectives.
It feeds from the bottom up as you are executing. When you achieve your tactics you will achieve your objectives and as you achieve your objectives, you will achieve your marketing goals.
I’m going to give you a simple non-business example that will help you see this easier.
Let’s say that you have a dinner party. You’re going to need a main dish, drinks, and dessert.
The goal is the dinner party. The food and drinks will be the objectives. What do you need to make have a main dish? If you’re making lasagna you need to do certain things to get the lasagna. Those are the tactics.
Once you have a lasagna, you met an objective which means your closer to the goal. There are tactics that you will need to perform to meet the other objectives, the drinks, and the dessert.
Once you have done them you meet the objectives. When all the objectives are met you will meet your goal.
That is an overly simple example but it shows how everything works together. It’s kind of like putting together a puzzle.
When you are looking at your plan. Don’t be intimidated. Start with your tactics.
Testing Is Key
I would like to sit here and tell you that I’m an oracle. I’m able to synthesize my client’s goals, evaluate the landscape, come up with the right plan, and then execute it to perfection.
I would like to tell you that but I can’t. There is a certain amount of knowledge that I have that comes from experience but I’m not omnipotent.
This means that I need to test. Let’s say one of my tactics is a Facebook ad. I’m doing a regular ad that will use copy and a picture. I need to test both these elements.
I will run multiple tests for both but not at the same time. I will run ads where I test copy only and I will run ads that test pictures only.
I will do this using A/B testing. I run two ads with two different pictures. I see which has the best result and then I test again using my winner and new picture. I will continue to test until I find the best results.
Once I’ve found my picture I will test the copy using the same process.
There are two reasons that I test. The obvious reason is to find what doesn’t work. This part of the process but what I’m really trying to do is optimize an ad’s performance.
I’m investing time and money in an ad so I want the highest conversion possible.
Testing isn’t limited to ads. The content you create can be tested. In the past, I’ve talked about speaking with your customers to find out what you should be talking about.
This is a great first step but it doesn’t stop there. You need to pay attention to what content is resonating and what isn’t. This will tell you where you need to focus.
The more you test, the better the results.
Measure and Adjust
I used to work at a large technology company. We measured everything. There wasn’t a decision made in which we didn’t consult the data.
When you’re testing you’re doing the same thing.
You do an A/B test. The one with the most views wins. That’s data.
I’m often surprised when organizations don’t measure. In this day and age, there isn’t a good reason not too.
It doesn’t matter if you are a small company. You need to measure. If you’re a non-profit. It doesn’t matter. You need to measure.
I’ll put it in a different way. You will be at a competitive disadvantage if you don’t measure. Over time the disadvantage will become greater.
It’s like the difference between a car driving 65 mph and another driving 61 mph. It’s only a difference of four mph but over 10 hours it goes from a four-mile gap to a 40-mile gap.
The only reason you wouldn’t consult data is if you don’t have data. If you’ve never run an ad you don’t have any data. There is no baseline to help you understand works and what doesn’t.
That goes away after you run your first ad because now you have data.
I was reviewing my data at the end of the year and it was obvious that Instagram wasn’t a good channel for my business. I made the decision to continue and make a final decision about it at the end of Q1.
A couple of days ago I decided I didn’t need any more data. I had more than enough. I was just avoiding the decision. I wasn’t seeing a return on the investment so I killed it.
If you want your business to survive you need to measure and adjust. It’s the same with your plan. You have a group of tactics but maybe some get more focus than others because you can see they are working better.
You can make these important decisions when you have the data and that starts with measuring.
You’ve put in the time to create a plan. Don’t make the mistake of putting it away. The plan is to help you get to a certain point and can’t do that if it’s gathering dust.
Don’t be overwhelmed by it. The execution starts with the tactics. As you work the tactics you will notice that you are attaining the objectives and the goals because they all fit together.
Don’t forget to test. The value in testing is finding what works and what doesn’t. As you discover this information you will be optimizing your work. This is important because you have made an investment and you want the highest return rate possible.
Finally, don’t ignore the metrics. You need to see them and make adjustments. You might have to kill some things you like and double down on things that you didn’t think would do as well because they are performing brilliantly.
Questions? Put them in the comments or you can contact us.