Marketing Gardening: How to Create a Winning Plan

By: Tim Kist 

We have some peonies in our flower bed by our backyard deck and the flower garden in the front of our home. I am always amazed at how fast these seemingly dead sticks turn into vibrant stalks that eventually bud and produce spectacular flowers. Since most of these were from my Dad, they have extra special meaning.

The other day, as I was looking at the bunches of twigs protruding from the rich, black earth, I noticed there was finally some green in both flower beds. Tulips are starting to ease their way towards the sky. Alas, the bunnies will soon be dining on these tender stems, depriving us of the beauty of the tulips.

I noticed additional green in the flower beds – weeds!

How is it that in less than a week these pesky weeds could grow so quickly? I know what I’ll be doing this weekend as I get the trusty trowel from the shed. Pulling weeds.

And then I wondered about how this might relate to business and marketing?

And the answer came quickly as I thought of failed marketing activities I have witnessed over the years. It doesn’t take much for something bad to creep into a perfect plan and make a mess of the whole thing.

How should you look for these marketing weeds, and what action is required to avoid heavy and hard work later when it might be too late to save your marketing garden?

Here are some points to create a winning marketing plan:

  • Ensure everyone knows what you want in the garden. This implies that you actually have a marketing plan that describes your customer, how they benefit from your product or service, and how you need to communicate and support them. A keen focus on these core items will serve you well by establishing a foundation to move forward on.
  • Use the right tools for the right job. I read a stat from a Us media company that touted the move of more ad dollars from traditional media to digital platforms. The research was based on what the CMO’s said they thought was the overall industry trend in marketing media spend. Are you all lemmings chasing each other off the cliff? Choose the tools based on your objectives and how your customer wants to be communicated with.
  • Assign the best people for the appropriate responsibility. I am a good weed puller, when I know I should be yanking them out of the ground. I sometimes need some prodding  Great marketing always begins at home with a customer focus; everyone in your organization knowing how their role helps overall customer satisfaction, using clear and consistent messaging and actions to deliver the value your customer expects. In 1999, Jeff Bezos was interviewed and talked about Amazon not being a tech company. The interviewer said that his investors wouldn’t like that. Bezos essentially said too bad, he wanted a company that was always and consistently focused on the customer. Technology was a tool. He said almost the same words in another interview about a year ago. That customer focus goes a long way in explaining Amazon’s success.
  • You must keep watch for weeds that creep back in. Evaluation must always occur after actions have been taken. Adjustments to strategies and tactics are often necessary. Only with constant tending of your marketing efforts and customer feedback will you be confident you are delivering what your customers want. Get rid of what is not working. Do NOT let old ideas, especially the legacy ones,  remain if they are not providing value.
  • Water and feed appropriately, but not too much. Balance is key. Sometimes the environment does some work for you, such as a competitor going out of business or key people leaving those same firms. You might not have to do extra fertilizing and watering, you might just need a few key sprinkles in the right spots to take advantage of this market opportunity.
  • Determine if any changes are required to the types of flowers in your garden. Have you carefully researched the job that your customer does with your product or service to determine if there is something else that you can, or should be offering? You need to stand out from your competition. Adding something new can help.

So, how does your garden grow? With silver bells and cockle shells…? Or hard work, tilling the ground, feeding and watering the product so that it grows healthy and strong and brings enjoyment and pleasure to all who see it?

Or is it time to bring a jug of “Roundup” and wipe the slate clean. If you have been tending the garden carefully over the years, there is likely no need to head to the last “Roundup.”

And just like the peonies, careful marketing gardening will provide beauty each year because they are perennials.


About the Author
Tim Kist is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC), whose certification was obtained through a combination of experience, examination and continuous professional development. With over 20 years of senior industry management, combined with nearly 8 years in management consulting with national firms, Tim brings together extensive experience, objectivity, and front line leadership. As a national athlete and current university football coach, Tim lives and understands the evaluation, preparation and game planning required for successful high level individual and team performance. He has successfully brought this coaching approach to his work teams throughout his leadership career. Read More

A version of this post was first published here.