Why sprint is every marketer’s secret weapon for 2018/19 planning

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Planning and budgeting season is upon us. Division heads are getting ready to share their commercial goals and priorities for the financial year ahead, and soon marketing and business development leaders must deliver a plan that demonstrates how they will drive revenue for the company’s biggest bets for growth.

It’s the critical moment of the year for marketing and sales colleagues in B2B – the campaigns and initiatives laid out here set the agenda for the coming months. All your stakeholders need counsel – which is especially tricky to manage when many of us are wrapping up campaigns and trying to maintain ongoing activities – and building strategic and creative plans for multiple services, sectors and clients is a huge amount of work in its own right. In short, time is tight and pressure is high.

The dash to get plans nailed down and challenge of being pulled in several directions often means that we fall back on legacy campaigns that may not be delivering results, or conceive new campaign ideas quickly based on what will drive brand awareness rather than sales. But a plan that doesn’t start with a strong and differentiated sales proposition for each area of growth will have limited commercial success.

Being able to articulate how you can help clients make money, save costs, mitigate risk that they have yet to spot increases the likelihood of purchase more than any other factor – 53% compared to brand (19%), product/service (19%) and price (9%). It’s the most important component to ensure any campaign leads to real ROI, but also needn’t take months of back and forth. During planning season, you need an approach that can be repeated at speed with stakeholders across service lines and sectors.

To set the commercial foundations for your annual plan quickly and strategically, it’s possible to deliver client-tested sales propositions and supporting campaign themes in just one week. A five day sales proposition sprint – adapted from the pioneering Google Ventures approach – allows you to work with several big bets in a short space of time, and start on research and content quicker to get campaigns off the ground.

The model rests on process, pragmatism and prototyping.

Process: A clear, focussed sprint agenda with daily outcomes and deliverables keeps the sprint on track – everyone knows what they’re there to do, why and how their contribution plays into the final sales proposition. Specially designed frameworks provide direction to discussions – there is no time for tangential conversations in the sprint, as failing to achieve the goals on one day has a knock on effect that will derail the whole process.

Pragmatism: There’s nothing worse than sitting in a long meeting to which you don’t feel able to contribute – other than perhaps several of your fee earners sitting in there too! Getting the right people in the room at the right stage of the process is critical to an effective sprint – avoiding wasted time and disgruntled stakeholders. This means quick fire one-to-one sessions to gather information, small workshops to review and develop ideas and a single decision-maker – with little overlap between these contributors to minimise time commitment.

Prototyping: While many marketers spend time testing subject lines and measuring interaction, rarely do we gather hard data from buyers on whether the core of our campaigns – the proposition and key messages – are compelling from the start. That is why sprints use a prototype to gather structured client feedback on the sales proposition and campaign themes we create. Working quickly, trying things out, evolving them collaboratively and making fast decisions is crucial to building a strong proposition that makes sales.

To find out more about how a sprint can help you meet growth targets in 2018/19 get in touch.

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