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Topic: Strategy

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How To Organize A Marketing Retreat

Posted by Anonymous on 250 Points
Recently, our executive group came to the marketing team and said, "We need to get off-site and brainstorm our marketing strategy for next year. We need to hold a Marketing Retreat".

Can anyone - with a similar experience - share their thoughts on how to produce a successful event?

Thanks in advance for your assistance.

  • Posted on Accepted
    I've done that before. We called it a RIP (Rapid Improvement Process) session. The key items are:

    1) Invite your key stakeholders in the company as well as your marketers.

    2) Separate people into teams that are appropriately mixed with different skill sets and personalities.

    3) Make sure you kick off with some warm up activities and games to get some creativity flowing and warm up the group dynamics.

    4) Present a group of or a couple of problems for the groups to solve with the appropriate background. Give them the guidelines that you want to solve. For example focus on marketing, product, price systems etc.

    5) Each group presents recommendations at the end.

    6) One person in each group collects and distributes the solutions at the office the next week and is responsible for following up on progress etc.

    Hope this helps! We had quite a bit of fun with it.

  • Posted on Accepted
    Kris' comments are right on...
    But I would suggest an outside facilitator. I work as a facilitator but still hire someone from outside the company to drive our events. Why, because even though I am (nearly) perfect, I still have my own agendas and those spill over into running the meeting.

    Another point -
    These things when done right - are totally exausting. I like schedules that start mid-afternoon break for a relaxing dinner then restart the next morning until early afternoon.

    Highly driven (and busy) upper management team members will want to do it all in one marathon meeting. Avoid this at all costs - creativity and ideas stop flowing after the group gets tired.

    Frank Hurtte
    River Heights Consulting
  • Posted by Tracey on Accepted
    I agree with everything said above, and want to add that you should start with your goals and objectives. What do you want to accomplish during the meeting, and what do you want people to walk away from the meeting with? That should drive your decisions.

    Make sure your key stakeholders/ execs are in the right part of the meeting -- maybe not the whole thing (like the brainstorming part).

    Come prepared with your research -- what worked/didn't work last year, industry trends and business factors that would effect your plan, clear layout of company goals, etc.

    As mentioned, these things are exhausting, so make the attendees feel important. In my team, we have a phrase, "What's the chocolate?" In other words, what's that extra special thing that will put your event over the top? It might be a nice team dinner, or recognition in front of top execs, or a thank-you gift, or a well-executed theme.

    If you're doing brainstorming, lay out the rules first. E.g., put every idea on the white board, no eliminating ideas during the idea creation phase, etc. The book "Creative Advertising" has a good set of rules for brainstorming.
  • Posted on Accepted
    I have been working on a new web site just for the purpose of helping people to do brainstorming that works, named, appropriately.

    This is purely an informational web site but I also do a lot of facilitating of brainstorming meetings and second the recommendation made above to use an outside facilitator if possible.

    Have a number of brainstorming tools there to start things off or restart if idea generation slows down. You'll see some lists of recommendations on the web site.

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