The strategic planning process for CMOs is like a high-stakes chess match
June 13, 2023

How CMOs Can Ace the Strategic Planning Process

by Michael Brenner

As the role of Chief Marketing Officer gains more importance to business success, new challenges arise. Since the market can shift quickly, a solid strategic planning process is critical.

For example, economic uncertainty can lead to marketing budget cuts that hamper a brand’s ability to stay in front of its target audience. The solution lies in having a planning process that accounts for ups and downs and steers confidently through them. Discover the elements of a rock-star strategic planning process.

Key Takeaways:

  • Strategic planning deals with crafting long-term organizational objectives with company leadership and creating a practical plan for your marketing department.
  • Effective planning with fellow members of the C-suite requires preparing well with hard facts and compelling arguments.
  • Five critical steps help you put your plan into action with your marketing team.

What Is the Strategic Planning Process for CMOs?

Strategic planning is when organizational leaders create long-term objectives (three years or more away) that align with their vision for the future. In the process, executives determine the priority and sequence of steps necessary to reach those goals.

During such discussions, a CMO must present projects and strategies that gain approval from other C-suite executives. The CMO must then design a departmental strategic planning process that executes those goals inside the department. 

Such planning is critical to remaining competitive. CMOs must understand priorities in the market and take action to keep up with and outpace other brands.

Stats show that common high-value martech goals require a strategic planning process to keep up with other brands

Image Source

How Do You Navigate the Strategic Planning Process With Fellow Executives?

CMOs sometimes run into the challenge of not getting the full respect of the rest of the executive suite. Though the title has been around for a few decades now, it’s still new in comparison to the traditional core three of CEO, COO, and CFO.

The difficulty of finding success in the CMO position is evident in the shorter tenures that this position has when compared with others. Let’s face it; when companies want to trim during lean times, their eyes all too often turn toward marketing.

The problem is that consumers have more agency and a greater voice and influence than ever. A company that neglects a focus on marketing is setting itself up for a rapid fall. 

CMOs can earn respect and prove their worth by coming to executive strategic planning process discussions with concrete facts and well-reasoned plans. Remember that other departments see your proposals as a promise of results. 

Creativity is great, but you need to prove what works and get scientific about your plan of attack. A strong wireframe and easy-to-understand visualizations can get others motivated. 

By default, you should be one of the most persuasive presenters in the executive group. Apply your marketing principles and techniques to convince your fellow leaders to get on board with your plans.

How Do You Ace the Strategic Planning Process With Your Marketing Team?

Much of the groundwork for actionable data in C-suite meetings comes from your strategic planning process and execution with your team. Employ five basic steps to ace your approach.

1. Identify Your Mission and Position

You did the fundamental part of this step with the C-suite, but you want to refine it for your marketing department. Take the company mission and interpret it in language that motivates your team.

Dig deeper with a good old-fashioned SWOT analysis to understand your internal strengths and weaknesses as well as your external threats and opportunities. The assessment helps you start plotting a reliable roadmap.

2. Prioritize Your Steps and Goals

Crystallize the goals of your strategic planning process by diving into the nitty-gritty details for your team. Put things in the right order and understand which activities you’re willing to sacrifice if necessary. 

You should make a list of all of your resources and budgetary restrictions. Lay out an optimistic yet realistic schedule and determine your key performance metrics to track your progress.

3. Formulate How To Reach Objectives

Break your larger objectives into smaller, more manageable benchmarks.

Remember to communicate and collaborate with other stakeholders in the strategic planning process as you develop the action steps to get full buy-in. 

Strategy mapping your process is often a practical way to communicate and connect how steps interlock with internal and external stakeholders.

4. Implement Your Tactics

Implementation is where the rubber meets the road and you earn your salary. Stick to the calendar you created to enact your new directives and closely monitor your metrics.

Commend and reward team members for staying on schedule. Take swift action to correct course when you notice things getting off track.

5. Review How Things Are Going and Update Your Plan

Without periodic review and revision, your plan is just a random experiment. Your planning needs to be scientific to demonstrate inarguable results or highlight where to adjust.

Monthly and quarterly reviews are optimal for subtle recalibration that keeps you agile. Then you can do more extensive analysis and readjustments annually.

Start taking these five action steps with your team immediately. When you build and track a plan, you stockpile the statistical and data-driven ammunition you need to convince fellow execs during the strategic planning process.

Another perspective into the steps of the strategic planning process

Image Source

What Are the Benefits of a Solid Strategic Planning Process?

The time you dedicate to perfecting your strategic planning process lays the foundation for marketing and organizational victory. You remain agile and responsive to new challenges and create the framework for demonstrating the value of your marketing efforts.

Start refining your strategic planning process now for maximum benefits!

Michael Brenner is a keynote speaker, author and CEO of Marketing Insider Group. Michael has written hundreds of articles on sites such as Forbes, Entrepreneur Magazine, and The Guardian, and he speaks at dozens of leadership conferences each year covering topics such as marketing, leadership, technology and business strategy.