Marketing Planning for 2009. Are you Kidding?

It’s the annual planning season for many. Oh, what fun! Business planning is particularly challenging this year because all of us just had to throw out the crystal ball we’ve been using for the past five years—it doesn’t work anymore. In fact I bet many of my CEO readers have just in the past few days asked their department heads to completely revise their plans in light of reassessed revenue targets for 2009.

Who knows how long this downturn will last or how severe it will be? Keeping fixed costs low while maintaining a high degree of flexibility will be the wise choice until the fog clears and the horizon comes into focus.

There is a way to strike a near-perfect balance between having the right marketing and sales talent you need without stretching the operating budget. It’s a matter of extreme focus, prioritization, and smart resource allocation. Here’s how.

In tough, uncertain times keep permanent staffing to a bare minimum and augment it with interim managers. This strategy holds for your leadership positions in marketing and sales, too—yes those director-, vp-, and c-level positions can be filled for a season by interim leaders. Interim management enables you to apply exactly the right quality and quantity of skills to an initiative; no more, no less. As one of my former colleagues was found of saying, “Let’s put the right amount of wood behind the arrow tip.”

Performance is everything, so find the perfect interim managers and focus them like a laser on what absolutely needs to be accomplished. In most cases you’ll have on your team an interim marketing or sales leader who is a peer to you and others in the C-suite.

Less is more when it comes to the smart use of interim leadership.

(For more tips on using interim managers in marketing and sales read “Leadership On Demand: How Smart CEO’s Tap Interim Management to Drive Revenue” by Charles Besondy and Paul Travis.

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