Marketing Performance Woes? You Might Just Have a Marketing Planning Problem

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
October 10, 2022

Here’s an image that might be daunting, commonplace or old-school to you, depending on your stage of life or expertise in electronics: the back of an A/V receiver with a bunch of cables sticking into it.

From your speaker to your subwoofer to your HDMI to your Bluetooth to your translucent green Nintendo 64 (did we mention old-school?) connections, the A/V receiver is the operational backbone of all the components of your home theater system. Without it, all of your connections become a convoluted mess of cables without a home from which to function properly.

Now think of everything that encompasses your marketing performance management process. You’ve got all of your moving parts like creating content, coordinating events, tracking budgets, optimizing the sales funnel, managing customer relationships, creating demand, increasing brand awareness—the list could go on forever, depending on your specific marketing responsibilities. But what’s the backbone of your marketing performance management success?


If you’re struggling to survive in a constantly dynamic and changing marketing environment by focusing on one or more individual components of your marketing plans, look instead to the plans themselves. Are there any gaps, inconsistencies or confusing parts of your plans that might be affecting the metaphorical cables that plug into them?

In the same way a malfunctioning A/V receiver might affect your sound or video quality, it’s your malfunctioning marketing plans that might be hindering your marketing performance.

It might not be a content strategy problem
A common issue marketing organizations face is delivering the right content at the right time and to the right audience. One way to help fix this problem is to establish a structure through which marketers can all get on the same page before they even begin to create and deliver content.

At large organizations in particular, when you have hundreds of marketers coming together, you naturally have a number of different opinions and preferences on how to plan and how to view those plans.

Marketers can start by implementing a consistent planning hierarchy across the organization. If you lay out exactly what constitutes your hierarchy and how each component ties back to overall strategy, you bring a common language to marketing planning across the board, bringing an anchor point from which marketers can then create content and know it’s pointing toward strategy.

Let’s say you’re looking to consolidate your content from all of your brands across the U.S. and promote that content to certain clients in specific geographies. If your plans are built by teams in spreadsheets, PowerPoints, Google Docs, sticky notes and so forth, a lack of structure is probably impacting your ability to aggregate this content and know what to deliver, and when to deliver it.

Here’s a common structure for your planning hierarchy, from the highest to the lowest levels:

Plan: The plan itself is usually tied to a budget owner with a specific target to reach. If there’s a lot of marketing complexity, there might be separate plans across business units or geographies.

Campaigns: This level is typically based on a theme or message: e.g., “Hive9 helps marketing leaders plan, predict, fund, measure and improve.” If you have enough marketing complexity, you can further segment themes or messages into smaller groups, categories or families.

Programs: Programs are usually based on objectives like brand awareness, sales enablement, customer advocacy, demand creation and so forth. Again, if you need to, you can further define your programs by grouping together, for example, customer programs for advocacy, onboarding, growth and retention into a customer programs family with four programs.

Tactics (or Activities): As the building blocks of your marketing plans, tactics might be assets like content or promotions like events. Assets might also involve other third-party expenses, and promotions might include omni-channel efforts like social media.

Regardless of what you name each level of your hierarchy, when you establish these levels up front, your teams will be able to better collaborate on shared goals and not get lost on where their content fits into marketing plans. Furthermore, with increased visibility into what’s happening, you’ll be able to eliminate any duplicative content and align it with top-level targets.


Streamlining plans

By using Uptempo’s Hive9 platform to streamline their marketing planning process, one of customers, FARO Technologies, gained a better overview of global marketing activities at a detailed, structured level.

Read case study to learn more

It might not even be an ROI problem
Achieving ROI is the ultimate goal for any marketing organization. Knowing how to measure it, however, is one of the ultimate struggles. If you’re in that boat, it might help to look first at patching up a common hole in your planning process: no connection to a revenue model.

To understand if your plans could deliver on your goals, you can use revenue modeling to determine how and when your generated demand might become revenue. Building off the rules of your planning hierarchy, your revenue model defines the rules for calculating the expected performance of your tactics that roll back up into your programs, campaigns and plans.

As you build out your marketing plans, you’ll start to accumulate costs on one hand and performance goals on the other. You can roll your tactics up to your programs to project your ROI at that level, and then do the same at both the campaign and plan levels.

Another vital prerequisite to accurate ROI calculation is taking your revenue modeling a step further by accounting for waterfall conversion rates and velocities.

Instead of focusing your efforts on just driving leads, focus on the bigger picture of how your plans contribute to overall revenue goals, which can be established through a waterfall framework. Defining this framework lays the groundwork for the steps that will convert leads into sales, as well as ensures sales and marketing are aligned on how to accomplish this. Importantly, it also ensures that your marketing team sees more of an overall picture of how their work will contribute to revenue goals and how exactly they can get there—rather than having a narrow focus on just the leads.

When plans are built separately by marketing teams without a connected revenue model and waterfall framework, it’s difficult for marketers to align plans to strategy and goals. When plans are consolidated on one platform, validated with revenue models, with easily visible goal alignment, marketing teams experience better visibility into measuring ROI.

It’s probably just a marketing planning problem
Don’t panic, but getting your marketing plans in order is so critical to your marketing performance success that it should be done before you address more specific, common issues, whether that’s creating content, measuring ROI, digitizing marketing, managing assets, mapping customer journeys, driving new leads or increasing brand awareness.

And even with a great plan in place, you’re also going to want to fully understand your segmentation and cohorts before diving into other areas—but that’s a topic for another blog. 

After all, even if you have the latest and greatest TV and stereo system, your home theater experience won’t live up to expectations if your receiver isn’t first up to par.

Plan first. Then plug everything else in when you’re ready.

Ready to bring structure to your marketing plans?

Uptempo consolidates all of your marketing plans into one platform, validated via a revenue model, with easily visible goal alignment. We offer a flexible calendar, handle complex segmentation, enforce your standards, enable you to set goals, and provide personalized views of your plans.

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