On Writing a Marketing Plan: Prepare to be Unprepared.

Marketing Plan Knock Out

“Everyone has a plan ’till they get punched in the mouth.” -Mike Tyson

A good marketing plan plans for the things that aren’t—and in today’s world, marketers and agencies have two choices when it comes to writing one: craft a plan, get it approved up the ranks and assume everything will go according to said plan; or create an own-able brand voice and set it free in the world to grow up.

Naturally, I prefer option two.

And, as it turns out, I’m not the only one. Brands like Under Armour don’t just leverage what’s happening in the world, they harness negative attention and bend it to their advantage. When they received an intense amount of backlash after announcing Gisele as a new spokesperson, they didn’t back down. Instead, they made a spot about it (and it was arguably the best ad in the series).

A Good Marketing Plan

A good marketing plan is one that allows brands to do just that—respond quickly and authentically. Take Arbys for example, another brand doing it right. Offering Jon Stewart a job via a cheeky tweet right after he announced his Daily Show retirement was en pointe and on brand.

On the flip side, brands can get it wrong—really, really wrong. So wrong that one bad tweet can undermine a multi-million dollar marketing plan (think US Airways). It’s the kind of thing that makes brands fearful about not controlling their brand full time. And it’s understandable—but to think they control their brand in the first place is an illusion.

For creatives, a marketing plan that allows for spontaneity offers a golden opportunity. It allows us to make the work more dynamic, and the brand more interesting. And this kind of thinking’s not just limited to social media. It’s an entire shift in how to think about communication.

Google (surprise, surprise) is committed to this approach. Their mantra is to create communications and products that reflect what it’s like to be alive today. They don’t spend their time on power point presentations or meetings to talk about what they’re going to talk about in meetings. Their strategy is to “press play.”

This is the future. Be prepared to get punched in the mouth.

(image: flickr/sadjina)

Carolyn is Principal/EDC at Young & Laramore in Indianapolis. She also maintains a blog focusing on art, advertising and culture.

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