First, I’d like to thank everyone for being here today to—at the very least—pretend to grieve the loss of our dear old colleague, The Marketing Plan. I first met MP in ’91 at our annual marketing meeting. Say what you might about ‘ol MP, but he was remarkable in his ability to stick around long after his usefulness had expired.
He was a burly thing, at least two inches thick, with three SHARP METAL CLAWS holding him together.
MP was the keeper of the ideal client profile, the warden of brand language, and the guardian of guidelines for print advertising.
He loved to bring people together to decide what they would do nine months down the line to increase sales and revenue, though he never had much regard for how things might change in those nine months. Funny guy, that MP.
For years, I flipped through his pages and checked off boxes as I executed those plans, valiantly determined a year in advance in a boardroom devoid of a crystal ball. Sometimes checking his boxes yielded high ROI; most of the time, the only thing it yielded was hours of busy work with zero impact on the bottom line.
MP saw the world change—the advent of the PC, the internet, and the iPhone. He was there when real-time data analytics emerged. He lived through the rise of online reservations and digital checkout. All the while never changing a thing, his binder would stand Stallworth on the shelf carving a finite line of dust around his black cover.
We stayed loyal to MP, pulling him off the shelf at the end of every year to prepare for the next. While he would not change, the world around him was stirring. The language was changing, and the rules of engagement became complex. Print ads were replaced with banner ads and display campaigns, and organic was on trend on the web and in our local Whole Foods.
Towards the end, MP knew no one was going to turn to page 327 to look for a backup plan after a GoogleAds campaign failed. He knew the tech-driven, instant-gratification world we lived in made him obsolete, and he had a long time to come to terms with that.
MP wouldn’t want us to be sad. He wants us to embrace our newfound flexibility beyond the static written pages. He would want us to write one page at a time, starting the second page only when we knew the effect of the first.
To make marketing more effective, we must move to dynamic and real-time marketing like Instagram stories showing experiences as they happen, bringing our brand to life for our guests WITH our guests.
MP never knew the luxury of last-minute offers on our favorite booking platforms or the ability to BOOK NOW! MP’s only “call to action” was in the final snap of his three metal rings, indicating that our planning was done…9 months before we knew what was needed!
This leads us to a newfound word never spoken in a marketing meeting AGILE. The definition of agile is the ability to move quickly and easily.
Marketing in today’s world is not about planning; it is about having the skill to move fast; this means being well-trained and ready for the race despite the forecast. The only planning we can do is to budget the funds to support the strategy our future will demand.
Our awareness strategies were previously found in the pages of magazines, where vibrant pictures of us at our BEST were placed on glossy pages with high subscriber rates. It wasn’t a strategy at all; it was bound in the HOPE that the consumer would remember us later when flipping through their AAA Tour Book and deciding which hotel’s 800 number to call.
Today’s awareness strategy has evolved; it happens where the consumer is, not where we hope they will be, and when perfected, it is done for us by the consumer told on their social media pages or by word of mouth. Today’s strategies must deliver real-time content to a targeted customer with a 2-second attention span.
Let’s stop for a moment of silence to grieve the passing of our old friend MP. He is gone and hopefully SOON forgotten by owners and CEOs. No longer are we the authors of a fictional story of how we will achieve budgets; instead, we are historians documenting our failures and success at the moment, recounting what worked, when, and how.
We are digital; we are paperless; we are tablet-carrying executives in fluid motion multitasking in a world that has solved all inefficiencies with some form of technology.
This year let’s do it differently.
As we gather our typical marketing plan materials, let’s collect our strategies and attach points of accountability to a dynamic plan that moves with us. A plan that is never final enough to pinch your fingers in the binder because as soon as one page is executed, the second is already being written.
Take marketing off the shelf and get it in the game where it deserves to be shown in a new light. This year we will have a marketing plan, but ours will not be on a shelf; it will be in everything we do.
You will see it in our teams’ dedication and our guests’ exuberance. It will change as needed, at the moment, as new opportunities are identified.
I declare “Death of the Marketing Plan,” bury the 3-ring binders, and burn the shelves, as this is not where strategy lives.
Marketing strategy is alive in those passionate enough to wear the nametag and serve guests that long to “feel” something beyond what they can identify in words. It is an awareness that something here is different; it is the consideration to accept something that takes you out of your comfort zone and converts to a memory not soon forgotten. When has the strategy of memory as a KPI been written in a Marketing Plan?
Success is not in “Return on Ad Spend”; success is engineering experiences in those annual marketing meetings that create awareness for our targeted audience, an awareness that evokes curiosity and inspires them to consider converting a booking.
BREATHE!! Everyone is looking for that once-in-a-lifetime Instagrammable moment, to TikTok in between business trips and light up their feeds with envious posts that take them out of their everyday.
Marketing creates a story that’s end result is a memory not soon forgotten.
That my friends cannot be found in a binder or on a shelf
- Marketing is dynamic,
- Marketing is fluid, and
- Marketing happens in real-time.