The word “planning” suggests best practice, is a process, not a one-off. The word “plan” suggests a template. Since 2000 in B4P’s benchmarking work, we have not seen template-based plans that deliver growth. Instead, workshopping, challenging, mentoring, and thorough preparation of data, facts and insights drive the completion of a successful plan. It is not the template that causes the success of this process; it is the planning process that surrounds it.
It might not be a sexy word, but good brand planning is process-based/driven.
What does good look like
- 20 to 25 sustainable growth opportunities
- A mixture of share steal and incremental growth strategies
- Defence against and attack of competitors both within and without the competitive set
- Objectives that are at least two years, with 12 month firm
The challenge is “sustainable growth opportunities”. These answer the question: “How will we grow the brand and hang onto the market share?” They do not only answer the question: “What could we do next year?”
Best practice looks like: three to five objectives. The strategies that result are: balanced scorecard; consumer insight driven; retailer friendly; harmonised with shopper behaviour; and unlikely to be immediately copied and beaten by competitors.
Should you worry about brand planning? Yes. It is a promotable skill. Good Brand Planners 10 years ago are Vice Presidents and General Managers today, amongst the 80+ client base and 800 Brand Managers we have benchmarked.
Brand Managers are often accused by senior marketers of having poor return on investment awareness/skills. So a good planning tool has at least two to three pages of commercials – P&L, return on investment, a focus on cost-effectiveness and efficiency of spend.
Activation execution is one of the most important parts of strategy – good project management skills are one of the inputs to brand planning skills, and a plan will always include a critical path for each objective and its strategies.