The organisation of planning for marketing activities often takes more time than the marketing planning itself. This is in no small part because marketers cling to antiquated / not fit for purpose technology in the form of Excel spreadsheets, often forsaking much more advanced and efficient digital planning tools in favour of Excel.
Instead of piling up useless information, digital planning tools create a ‘master’ file, in which all information is visible, and where it is possible to go into depth at certain parts. Digital planning tools (i.e. Trello, Monday, Husky Marketing Planner and Wrike) offer more overview, insight and a better organisation than traditional use of Excel spreadsheets for marketing planning purposes.
Beyond that though what are the major advantages of a digital tool, versus ‘old school’ marketing planning tools (like Excel)?
Reduction in complexity and increased efficiency
Marketers that have been working with the same spreadsheet for years may have no difficulty finding relevant information in it. Hence, the main reason why they are reluctant to switch to digital tools.
On the contrary, a novice may find colourful Excel sheets with thousands of filled cells and dozens of tabs bloodcurdling. How quickly can you teach the same person to work with it? It often takes weeks before someone is familiar with your comfort zone, and even then you will catch the person making mistakes. The longer you have worked in a sheet, the more complicated it has become.
The transition to a digital planner is stressful for many marketers. Not only are some tools costly, but also the time to change processes is often a barrier. The larger the team, the more significant the impact will be. But compare this to the returns of such a tool. If someone only becomes 10 minutes more efficient every day, you have saved one full-time employee on a team of 50 people!
Standardisation of data (and sheets)
Chances are you are working with different marketers, each responsible for various projects. Do you all use the same structure? Digital planning ensures standardisation. Take the example of Husky, a Marketing Planning software.
In Husky, different projects are put together on one centralised platform. A marketing plan consists of several projects, which are divided into channels later on. This is how a communication plan takes shape. It looks like a spreadsheet, but its digital DNA makes it much more flexible than Excel.
Improved transparency, tracking and stakeholder communication
Marketers often don’t get the recognition they deserve, because they hardly report or report poorly. It is not easy to quickly share one or more Excel plans with all stakeholders (colleagues, management, sales, freelancers, etc.). A digital planner is a collaborative tool. ‘Collaborative’ means that it is designed to work together and to share and report marketing data easily.
Digital planners do this in 3 ways:
- You share the entire marketing plan and give read or edit rights. By far the easiest solution, but maybe you’ll share too much.
- You report or share one specific part of the marketing plan (think of a KPI dashboard!).
- You generate specific (PDF) reports from the marketing plan.
The above types of reporting can be used and adapted for various stakeholders. With your team, you often share the entire marketing plan, while an event manager is only interested in the communication plan of an event and a financial manager wants to analyse a report of the marketing budget.
From an overload of sheets to one central digital planner
Above I outlined three important added values of a digital planner compared to Excel plans. However, I only zoomed in on internal communication, communication planning and reporting. But what about your budgeting in Excel? And how do you make task management (in Excel or Outlook) transparent for all members of the team? You guessed it: another challenge to digitise Excel plans.
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Digital planners have a clear mission: to replace Excel stress and overload with peace of mind, insight and overview via one central digital platform. So that marketers use their marketing planning as a motor for success and are not victimised by the Excel hell.