Strategy and action plan

In an ever changing world of marketing, a brand’s success hinges on its well-structured approach that combines strategic thinking with actionable plans. Despite the challenges of implementation, strategic planning is essential for freelancers and entrepreneurs, whether they are traveling the world or launching a startup in a remote destination.   As a Canadian Armenian living in Armenia for 17 years, Raffi Niziblian, Creative Director of DeeM, has witnessed firsthand how the country where you reside can influence your strategic planning efforts. Many people overlook this factor, assuming it has no impact, but it does.   Armenia’s more chill lifestyle can help one to step back from the day-to-day and focus on the big picture. Plus, being home to a diverse community of entrepreneurs, professionals, and investors makes it easy to connect with people who can help to develop and implement a strategic plan. Deem Communications has been spearheading strategic communications and strategic thinking in Armenia for over a decade. Here is what we have discovered over the years, hoping you can benefit from our experience, and even better, have your own experience here in Armenia someday.  

Strategy: The Art of Direction and Purpose

Let’s start by defining some terms. Strategy acts as a guiding map, outlining the desired direction and goals of the marketing activity, namely a launch or a campaign. It involves strategic thinking, which emphasizes the importance of an analytical assessment of market conditions to identify unique opportunities and challenges. This takes a long-term perspective, considering the overall objectives and aspirations of a company and considers a wider scope of analysis and factors for a sustainable plan. One of the components of a comprehensive strategy is the target audience analysis. Understanding the demographics, preferences, and behaviors of the intended audience which leads to tailored marketing messages that resonate with them. A competitive analysis helps evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, leading to the identification of competitive advantages and differentiation points. Moreover, a robust strategy accounts for potential changes in the market and provides a flexible framework to navigate evolving trends and consumer preferences. For many companies and institutions such as the All Armenia Fund, a clear strategy was designed to bring about numerous benefits to their communications, image building and marketing efforts. It aligned with the institution’s objectives, creating a cohesive approach for the forthcoming years. Another strategy was built recently for the The European Union Delegation to Armenia While a strategy lays the foundation for marketing success, it alone cannot guarantee results. The next crucial step is to translate the strategic direction into tangible action plans.

Action Plans: Transforming Strategy into Execution

Another definition here. An action plan takes the strategic direction and breaks it down into specific tasks, timelines, and responsibilities. It provides a roadmap for the effective implementation of the strategy. With measurable targets and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress and evaluate the effectiveness of marketing initiatives, action plans encompass accountability and collaboration with stakeholders. Prioritization of tasks becomes very crucial for identifying the most critical activities and sequencing them based on dependencies and available resources. Resource allocation ensures that budget, personnel, and other resources are appropriately assigned to each task, resulting in optimal resource utilization. Timelines and milestones help establish realistic deadlines to monitor progress and maintain accountability. Finally, monitoring and evaluation mechanisms are put in place to track the performance of marketing campaigns against the predetermined KPIs and make adjustments as needed. The experts at DeeM have had over 17 years of experience in setting action plans and implementing them. Many of the major activities involve major events such as the Francophonie Summit or the Responsible Mining Conference that encompasses complex, controversial or multifaceted activities serving a higher strategy. These and many other projects have generated many lessons learnt, which in turn has empowered our team and provided us with hands-on knowledge that can only be acquired by actual living experiences.  Most recently, the team conceived and implemented the Russian Film Festival that exceeded any expectations of the Russian Federation’s Cultural Ministry. DeeM’s project managers planned the entire project coordinating with local suppliers, venues, audiences, media and international partners. The seamless implementation was due to the effective elaboration of a comprehensive action plan that offered several benefits to this communications project.  Despite the clear distinction between strategy and action plan, clients often fall into common misconceptions, hindering the effectiveness of marketing campaigns and lead to suboptimal results. At DeeM, we understand these challenges and aim to bridge the gap between strategy and execution, empowering our clients to achieve their marketing goals effectively. Now, let’s dive into some common misconceptions! To navigate the marketing landscape successfully, it is important to address and debunk common misconceptions that can hinder marketing efforts. Here are three prevalent misconceptions:

Misconception 1: Strategy is an Optional Extra

A major misconception is that strategy is an expendable element. Some companies seem to prioritize execution over strategy. A well-defined strategy ensures that marketing efforts are aligned with business objectives and provides a framework for decision-making and resource allocation.  We have spent thousands of hours working closely with partners to develop the notion of the importance of customized marc-communications strategies that align with overarching objectives. Our experience has actually been rewarding and effective. Not an easy or cheap task for agencies, but a crucial one for success. 

Misconception 2: Action Plans are One-Size-Fits-All

Clients often expect cookie-cutter action plans that can be applied universally to any business or industry. Nonetheless, an effective action plan depends on the uniqueness of the project at hand. We take the time to understand the clients’ specific needs and objectives and correlate with market dynamics.  We then design a detailed action plan that translates the strategic goals into executable tasks with clear KPIs. Many elaborate actions have been designed and implemented, where clients were pleasantly surprised. The advantage of a creative strategic communications agency is that it pushes the boundaries of creativity to allow fresh new ideas to be born and new successes to be achieved. 

Misconception 3: Execution Trumps Evaluation

Another misconception in marketing is that once the execution of a marketing campaign begins, evaluation and measurement take a back seat. However, continuous evaluation and measurement are vital for marketing success. Neglecting evaluation diminishes the ability to identify areas of improvement, optimize campaigns, and achieve desired outcomes. At DeeM, we emphasize the importance of ongoing evaluation and optimization. We leverage data-driven insights to monitor campaign performance, identify areas of improvement, and make necessary adjustments to maximize return on investment. By continuously evaluating marketing efforts against predetermined KPIs, we ensure that our clients’ campaigns are on track and deliver the desired results. These key indicators are set forth prior to implementation and are agreed upon with the clients to debunk any misinterpretation of expectations. Many tools exist to measure the success of marcomms activities. Over the past 17 years, DeeM has even designed some of its own tools that have been effective for measuring success.  

The Role of an Agency 

Deem Communications is dedicated to helping clients bridge the gap between strategy and execution by building robust customized strategies and designing tailored action plans. We provide KPIs and monitor the activities so we can evaluate and optimize the end results that should ideally meet, or preferably in our case, exceed expectations.  Since the beginning of our agency life, we have prioritized a collaborative approach. We believe in fostering strong partnerships with our clients. We have come to understand that successful marketing and communications requires collaboration and an effective communication team of suppliers and experts. We allocate designated Project Managers and relevant teams to work closely with clients, actively listening to their needs, goals, and feedback. By aligning our strategies and action plans with their vision, we ensure that our marketing solutions are tailored to their unique business requirements. Our collaborative approach fosters a sense of shared ownership and empowers our clients to actively participate in the marketing process. DeeM’s cutting-edge and novel methodology in communications, combined with our strategic location in Armenia, has made us one of the most sought-after agencies in the market. In North America, people are constantly bombarded with stimuli and distractions, making it difficult to find the time and space to reflect and think strategically. A small country with low potential? I agree that it’s a small country, but that’s a misconception when it comes to its potential. In Armenia, I’ve collaborated with UNICEF, UNDP, HSBC Bank, Byblos Bank, and many governmental ministries and organizations. This has opened up the doors for more international collaborations. Besides the obvious CIS or post-soviet bloc, partnerships are forged mostly with European, Middle Eastern and even American entities. These opportunities are ripe and abundant. With the right mindset and skills, an experienced professional can capitalize on the situation and make their marks on this rapidly developing country.