Daily Insights

How to Future-Proof Marketing Plans

By: Ewan Mcintyre | Nov 12, 2019

How can marketing leaders set themselves up for success in 2020? By planning for the turns.

A “turn” is Gartner vernacular for a moment of uncertainty. Whether caused by economic or contextual challenges, turns create chaos and turmoil. The instinct is to slow down and wait for the situation to clear up. But the key to success is actually to speed up and take the advantage. Doing it requires practice and training. 

The reality is that turns are inevitable, whether they stem from geopolitical issues or from a merger. Marketers can’t sit and wait for it to happen and then decide what to do. Plan ahead by by documenting the market assumptions used to craft the marketing strategy. Strong assumptions are objective, verifiable, and precise. They should be trackable over time, as in: “audience use of platform X will grow by Y.” Together, the assumptions should cover all the major issues that affect execution of the marketing strategy.

Packaging giant Mondi, for example, documents the economic and contextual assumptions that support its budget and categorizes them as “standard” or “critical” based on their potential impact. An interdisciplinary team then monitors the critical assumptions continuously to detect early warning signs of change and ensure the company has a strong response plan.

Approaches like this allow leaders to set budgets based on what you know now, and identify scenarios to practice should an assumption turn out to be wrong. You can define areas of the budget that need to stay stable no matter what, and identify those that can flex down. Planning in advance provides a framework to use in the event you need to reduce costs or find resources for an opportunistic investment.