How To Run a Successful Marketing Strategy Workshop
Since the start of 2021, we’ve seen a big increase in enquiries for our Marketing Strategy Workshops.
In this article, we look at why marketing workshops are useful, what they can achieve and how to prepare for them. We also cover the importance of facilitating a marketing workshop to ensure a positive outcome for everyone.
Note this is how we at C4B Media do it – but if you’re planning to hold your own internal Marketing Strategy Workshop at your organisation, you might find these tips useful.
What is a marketing strategy workshop?
A Marketing Strategy Workshop can be used to gather input and ideas from different experts or stakeholders in order to create a marketing strategy and plan.
Equally, it can be used to drill into other specific aspects of marketing such as messaging, product positioning, branding, buyer profiling or to set the scope of a web design project.
Like all workshops, it should have a defined goal and outcome.
Why run a marketing strategy workshop?
Strategic business issues can’t all be planned or solved by committee, but nor can they be addressed by a single individual.
If you’re responsible for planning and delivering your organisation’s marketing strategy, there will be colleagues around you who can contribute expertise, knowledge and experience to help you, and whose requirements you probably need to take into account.
The trick is knowing how best to tease out the information you need from these stakeholders in order to harness and use it to plan your marketing strategy. If you intend to do this yourself, follow our tips below. Or ask us for help!
How to run your marketing strategy workshop
- Establish your goals
To start with, you need a crystal-clear picture of what you want from your workshop.
A marketing workshop could run from a couple of hours to a full day, so to get the most out of it you’ll need to do tons of organisation and planning. When defining your scope and goals, realise that you can’t cover everything, so don’t be over ambitious.
Armed with your objectives, you can then identify who to involve on the basis of the expertise you need in the room.
- Scope your workshop
Once you know who is attending, obtain their input prior to the workshop using a questionnaire.
Here at C4B Media we ask delegates to complete a strategy questionnaire ahead of the actual workshop and return it to us 24 hours ahead of the day.
The questionnaire is designed to tease out key information we need and to challenge attendees by asking some tricky questions.
When we receive the completed questionnaires, we can analyse the responses to identify where any gaps or misalignments exist.
- Prepare well
Do your background research, know who your attendees are and clue yourself up on the topics you’ll be discussing.
Logistics are also important. Check your meeting room set up, get some spare pens and note pads, whiteboard markers and plan your drinks and refreshments.
Above all, structure your agenda carefully, allowing adequate time so it doesn’t feel rushed. Then share the agenda the day before. If you are going to be facilitating, arrange for a colleague to make notes and actions as you go.
Finally, a top tip we’ve learned from experience is that mornings are best for workshops because:
a) people are usually at their best before lunch, and
b) it’s less likely that other issues and priorities will crop up during the morning.
- Kick off with an icebreaker
Depending on who is attending your workshop, it’s a good idea to kick off with an icebreaker to put people at ease.
Everyone should introduce themselves and explain what they hope to get out of the workshop. Note down everyone’s individual goals and requirements and revisit them at the end to see that the goals have been achieved.
Let everyone know when breaks will be and what the ground rules are e.g. phones off during the workshop.
- Break people out of their comfort zone
You’ll quickly get an idea of who the quiet and more dominant personalities are in the room. Sometimes, it’s tricky for people to open up especially if there’s a senior manager there.
Your job as a moderator is to tease out the information you need to write your marketing strategy, so you need to encourage participation by everyone. This can be a challenge as for some it involves stepping outside their personal comfort zone and looking at business issues and goals in a different way.
Try using case studies and visual models to start conversations, ask for opinions and provoke reactions. You can also use a marketing model (loved by all strategic marketers) to guide discussion. View C4B Media’s marketing process model here.
- Monitor energy levels in the room
If you see your marketing strategy workshop starting to drift or lose energy, you’ll need to act fast! Energy breeds energy, and it can easily drain away if people sit around a table for too long.
Standing up, taking a quick comfort break or even opening a window can breathe a bit of life back into a wilting workshop. Try handing your whiteboard marker to participants and ask them to note down or visualise their ideas or concepts.
Give everyone a different coloured Post-It note pad and encourage them to note their ideas down or stick them in groups on the wall. Afterwards you can run through all the ideas together or take photos as a record.
- Keep things on track
Nothing is more annoying than a workshop agenda that meanders off down all sorts of alleys.
Timekeeping is a real facilitating skill, particularly if you’ve got several people with their own agenda or expectations. You can’t shut people down or they’ll clam up. But at the same time, you can’t allow free rein for every idea under the sun.
As a moderator, you need to be assertive about capturing “non-core” ideas and coming back to them or you’ll run out of time. And if – despite your best efforts – the workshop does veer off track and you can’t steer it back, be prepared with a “Plan B” to deal with it.
If you think you’re going to struggle moderating your workshop, ask C4B Media to run it for you.
- Agree next steps as you wrap up
A common problem with workshops is that there’s not enough time to wrap up properly at the end. Around 30 minutes before the end of your workshop, flag to everyone that you’ll be bringing things to a close.
Having noted down actions and conclusions as you’ve gone along, you should ‘check in’ with the group in plenty of time, sum up the actions and conclusions and ask them whether they feel they’ve achieved what they wanted.
To maintain momentum and ‘buy-in’, you can ask each person in turn whether expectations have been met, what their individual takeaways are and what actions they will personally be taking.
Ideally, the actions and outcomes need to be documented, circulated and turned into a roadmap or marketing strategy and plan.
Running an effective marketing strategy workshop takes preparation, organisation, moderation skills and plenty of patience! We hope our tips and hints will be of use to you. But if you prefer not to attempt it yourself, you might want to bring in workshop professionals such as C4B Media to run it for you. Drop us a line at email@example.com.