MM 090 - Ignore Marketing Planning at Your Own Risk


    This week, we delve into the importance of marketing planning. Remember the comedian, Rodney Dangerfield? His shtick was “I don’t get no respect”. I wrote a blog post a few weeks ago, suggesting that Marketing is the Rodney Dangerfield of manufacturing because marketing gets no respect in manufacturing. And why is that? The 2 biggest challenges I hear from manufacturing CEOs, leaders, VP Sales is always (after talent acquisition) that they need more leads and more awareness in their target markets.

    Marketing is the solution to these challenges (and also a solution to the talent acquisition challenge by the way). But, alas, marketing still gets no respect. Sales can’t solve these challenges on their own anymore. Maybe they could back in the 1990s, but not today.

    Our guest expert today is going to talk about marketing strategy and planning. He’ll share with our audience why marketing does deserve respect and why marketing planning is so critical to a manufacturing company’s survival. He’ll share a few ideas about how to get started with a marketing plan, and share some other pearls of wisdom about why you can gain a huge competitive edge with a proper marketing plan.

    Guest: Bruce Clark, Associate Professor of Marketing at the D’Amore-McKim School of Business at Northeastern University
    Bruce's Twitter: @bruceclarkprof

    Check out the Northeastern Online MBA program


    • [4:40] Bruce C. shares why and how tactical marketing is different than strategic marketing.
    • [7:50] There is evidence that the earlier you involve marketing in a strategic process, the more successful it will be.
    • [10:00] Check out Clayton Christensen's framework "Jobs to be Done"
    • [13:15] The basic framework for a marketing plan - Where do we want to go? Where are we today? How will we get there?
    • [16:00] Marketing planning and strategy is most important when your industry is changing and especially when it is changing fast. Marketing is changing from transmission to conversation.
    • [19:45] Bruce C. compares and contrasts niche market versus broad market.
    • [22:20] You need to think about how the money works and the economics of your offering. "No plan survives contact with the customer." In other words, you need to have guidance in place for changing conditions.
    • [27:30] A marketing plan should be a guide not a script.
    • [31:30] A marketing plan should be a process the entire company is engaging with on a regular basis.

    Interview Questions:

    Question 1 –  Bruce, let’s level set to get the ball rolling. I expect that when most of our listeners think about ‘marketing’, they think of the tactical aspect, i.e. trade shows, advertisements, email, and so on. I’d like to suggest that this perception misses the most important aspect of marketing, strategic marketing. Would you talk about the two different parts of marketing, strategic versus tactical when it comes to the marketing function? Do you agree that the very term marketing is usually relegated to the tactical side? Why do you think that is the case?

    Question 2 –  Now that we’ve set the stage, let’s dig into the strategic side of marketing. Why is marketing strategy and associated marketing planning so vital to the B2B manufacturer in this day and age? What do you think will happen to manufacturers who can’t or won’t step up their strategic marketing game?

    Question 3 –  What is the single most important part of a marketing plan? What pitfalls would you advise our listeners to avoid?

    Question 4 – Suppose there is an owner or CEO of a mid-size manufacturer out there listening. He’s never had a marketing plan, but now, he thinks it’s time to go through the exercise with his team to create a proper marketing plan. What are the first few steps he should take to get the ball rolling?

    Challenge Question:

    This week our challenge question comes from a Marketing Director at a company that manufacturers industrial scales in upstate New York. Here it is.  “We’re a B2B manufacturer of industrial scales, have been around for more than 50 years and very successful up until the last couple of years. We’re getting killed by overseas competition offering a lower price. Our go-to-market strategy has always been built around a direct field sales team supported by a small marketing team. Sales relationships are not able to overcome the price difference any more. You advocate that we stop pitching the product and start sharing expertise. We’re ready to give that a try, but have no idea how to get started. What should we do first?”

    • Think about why your customers are weighing things and how you can help them make that process better.
    • Send the marketing team out with the sales people to learn what's happening in the field.


    1. Figure out where you are and where you want to go.
    2. The best plans are guides not scripts.

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