Marketing Execution is NOT a Hot Potato


Have you ever heard of the game, “Hot Potato?” If not or as a reminder, Hot potato is a game that involves players gathering in a circle and tossing a small object “potato” to each other while music plays. The player who is holding the object when the music stops is eliminated. Sometimes, I think about this game when speaking to businesses about their marketing strategy.


Having a marketing strategy is akin to problem-solving. Just as in the three-step approach to problem-solving, having a strategy starts with understanding your goals, creating a SMART plan, and staying focused on your execution.


In my experience, this is where many times companies go off the rails. Leadership has a vision but when it comes to execution, the potato starts getting tossed around and the once “hot” strategy becomes cold. So, you might ask, as a leader, how do I hand off that potato and keep it hot!


There are 5 things to remember with the game of marketing execution:

  1. Outlining the overarching Goal

  2. Creating a SMART plan

  3. Create periodic check-ins

  4. Breathe

  5. Measure

Treat your own marketing strategy like the 4 Ps. Product (your marketing strategy), Place (who are you handing it off to), Promotion (how are you communicating and are you checking in with them periodically), and Price (have a budget that is measurable, supports your target market, and your value proposition).


First, as you know, when it comes to marketing strategy, as in any strategy, having a specific focus will help keep out the noise when delegating and handing off that “hot potato”. Determine the main strategic goal that you would like to achieve like revenue growth, brand awareness. Being strategic in marketing requires understanding, creating, delivering, capturing, and sustaining customer value. Communicating your value proposition and target market when you hand off your “hot” strategy, will help keep the music playing as you hand off for tactical execution.


Second, be SMART in your tactical planning. The tactical marketing plan lays out the marketing tactics including features, promotion, pricing, sales channels, and service. In order to plan, implement and control, you need to be SMART. This means being Specific in your tactic, Measurable - what metrics can you use, Actionable - have a plan to execute, Realistic - be realistic in expectations of the plan, and Timely - document the time allocated for the plan.


Once you set your SMART plan, remember that a big part of that is the MAT - the Measurability, Actionability, and Timeliness. These items won’t be effective if they aren’t held accountable. Schedule time on your calendar for periodic check-ins within the Time set for the plan. This is a key component of a leader. Holding others accountable with realistic expectations will keep the music playing and the potato “hot” so to speak!


The fourth tip is to Breathe! Every day, people are inundated with the equivalent amount of 34 Gb (gigabytes) of information. This is enough to overload a laptop within a week. The amount of constant interruption does not help in the process of reflection and deeper thinking. So once you have handed off your strategy, let it and you breathe. Give it a chance to perform and a few songs to play before you interrupt the flow of your marketing music.


The last tip is to revisit the M in your SMART plan. Measure the effectiveness of your tactical plan and suggest revisions during your periodic checkpoints. Make sure to communicate at the beginning when you hand off what your expectations are for performance and double-check that the receiver of your message understands the SMART plan. Ask them to repeat the plan to ensure they will take care of that “hot potato,” and achieve results.


Companies that focus on the customer and are organized to respond effectively to changing customer needs are master marketers. In today’s two-way conversations, if your strategy is lost and the “potato” is dropped, you are not organized to effectively respond or satisfy customer needs. Delegate delicately, customers are like a breeze and when not handled appropriately will change direction and you will be stuck with no wind and a cold potato.

Interested in other topics or want to join the conversation, reach out! I certainly don’t want to be another statistic in the 34 Gigabyte overload!



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