Starting Your Game Plan for 2013

It’s almost September – one of the happiest times of the year for me as a football fan – the start of the new season. It’s also the time of year when most companies begin the goal setting and budgeting process for next year. Both of these areas require motivation, attention to detail and the ability to establish and stick to a game plan.

Football can actually provide corporate types with some guidance on the initial stages of forming an effective marketing game plan.

1) Huddle up – The first step in the process is to get a cross-functional group together – consider sales, product development, marketing, engineering, HR and senior leadership – to share their overall reflections of the past year. Did you meet your goals? Were your goals realistic? What went well? What failed? What will change in the year ahead? What will stay the same?

2) Review the films – Look at each product’s and team member’s performance and determine where you were strong, where you fell short and where there were areas of missed opportunity.

3) Examine the play-by-play – It’s important not only to look at the broad strokes, such as how each product launch or trade show went, but to look at each tactic in its own light to gauge its effectiveness and value. You should also look at each step in the process to determine where there were bad handoffs, holes in your coverage and miscommunications to decide where and how these areas can be improved.

4) Do the scouting report – It is critical to understand your competitors, know their product lines as well as your own and have an accurate, complete view of how you stack up in all areas. Like all smart coaches, you must look for areas of weakness that can be exploited to your advantage.

5) Motivate – Remember that what is discovered through these analyses must be communicated to all levels of the organization so that everyone is engaged and motivated. Pointing fingers and assigning blame will only cause harm and resentment. So be sure to share good news as well as bad, focus on opportunities for improvement and give your team a clear line of sight in terms of how their performance will impact future outcomes.

Too many professionals try to start developing their plans before they take these key steps. I’d encourage you to take a step back before launching headlong into planning season. To steal a line from Coach John Wooden, “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”

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