Why Marketing Plans Fail: Failure to Implement
Arguably, the most common reason that marketing plans fail is that they are never implemented.
Imagine that you spend months and months helping your daughter plan her wedding. You determine the type of dress she will wear, the number of attendants she will have, the flowers that will decorate the church, the minister that will preside over the ceremony, and the food that will be served at the reception. You pay real money for deposits to tailors, caterers, musicians and florists. Then as the wedding day approaches, you never look at or deal with any of the actionable items in your plan. No dresses are fitted, no food or flowers are ordered and no minister is ever contacted about reserving the church or conducting the ceremony. Doesn’t this sound ridiculous! Yet something very similar to this scenario happens in businesses every day. Kaplan& Norton in The Strategy Focused Organization noted: “failure rates [for planning implementation] are reported in the 70 to 90 percent range.” That’s appalling!
We have a mistaken belief that the right marketing strategy is all that is needed to succeed. Whereas, as Kaplan & Norton so aptly point out, “The truth is that the ability to execute strategy is more important than the strategy itself.”
So why is implementation so difficult in most organizations? The answer to this question is a lack of accountability. Accountability is critical to successful implementation and in so many organizations employees (and many owners and managers too) are not held accountable for what they do or don’t do. Until everyone understands that there are serious consequences for failing to perform assigned responsibilities, the most well designed marketing plan in the world will fail for lack of execution.
We suggest using a one page plan to drive your marketing strategy. It is a practical way to record the outcomes of your planning process. A one page plan includes space to identify your strategies, your chosen action plans and timings – i.e., who is responsible for completing the action and what is the target completion date. The following are some of the advantages of using a one page plan:
- It’s easy to complete.
- It’s easy to understand.
- It’s easy to update.
- It’s a simple but powerful tool for monitoring the implementation phase.
- It’s an accountability tool that leaves “no chance to fail”.
To be successful, an implementation process must be a people alignment process. As Peter Drucker once said, “Eventually, strategy and the big picture must degenerate into work.”