on September 06, 2016 Strategy

30 Days of Planning in 3 Hours: How We Accelerate Marketing Strategy and Success for Clients

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“The marketing industry is moving too fast to internalize everything.” — Paul Roetzer, The Marketing Performance Blueprint 

In spite of having more channels, more technology and more data than ever before, marketers are still struggling to make, and measure, an impact on the bottom line. Obsessive planning is all too often mistaken for strategy, leaving teams dutifully following checklists that are leading them nowhere.

Instead, a rapidly shifting landscape requires an equally agile response. The solution? The Marketing Growth HackathonTM.



PR 20/20 uses a proprietary planning model to guide clients to formulate goals that matter and a strategy to actually achieve them. The Marketing Growth Hackathon brings together marketers, executives and entrepreneurs to solve business growth challenges. The live workshop format helps organizations plan faster, experiment more efficiently and adapt constantly to accelerate success. 

Since we first presented the concept at INBOUND 2015, we’ve helped corporations, agencies and nonprofits achieve results faster by conducting hackathons. PR 20/20 has held dozens of internal hackathons; run workshops in partnership with SXSW, Cleveland Jumpstart, the Cleveland HubSpot User Group, the Performing Arts Centers Conference and the Junior Achievement National Leadership Conference; and facilitated hackathons with our clients across industries and business growth stages.

The format, attendees and goals differed each time, but one constant remained: The overwhelmingly positive response. Over the past year, we’ve refined the hackathon model into a lean, strategic workshop that gets results.


A New Model of Strategizing  

The hackathon concept was born out of three questions:

  • What if we could accelerate success?
  • What if we could transform marketing performance in 30, 60 or 90 days?
  • What if we could spend less time planning, and more time doing?

Historically, we would spend up to 30 days in discovery with new clients, poring over every detail of their business, industry, buyers and competitors. The exercise proved educational for the account team, but the resulting 50+ page document provided little value and results to our clients in the short term. 

Bootcamp fitness programs promise to transform your body in as little as 30 days. Computer programmers host hackathons to solve six-month challenges in a weekend. We wondered, why can’t marketers do the same?

By implementing the Marketing Growth Hackathon as a standard practice with new clients, we can condense 30 days of discovery into three hours of fast-paced collaboration and brainstorming. It speeds up the learning curve, cuts out the noise, and attendees walk out more strategically aligned than when they entered. We leave inspired by ideas that are measurable, attainable, and above all, actionable. 

>> Interested in running a Marketing Growth Hackathon for your business?

Now Available: Marketing Growth Hackathons

Marketing-Growth-Hackathon-workshop.jpgThanks to the success we’ve seen over the past 12 months, we’re rolling out the Marketing Growth Hackathon to any organization interested in accelerating marketing performance. The half- and full-day workshops can be customized to fit your organization’s size, goals and budget. 

Here’s how it works:


  1. Select a SMART goal.
  2. Invite a group of internal stakeholders (e.g. marketing, sales, product, customer service, C-suite) who want to collaborate on marketing strategy.
  3. Complete audience, persona, accelerator and milestone worksheets to guide brainstorming.

Event Day

Based on a 3-hour workshop

  1. Intro: Hackathon leader presents the SMART goal and provides an overview of audiences, personas, accelerators and milestones. (30 minutes)
  2. Breakout: Participants split in small groups to brainstorm ideas. (30 minutes)
  3. Collaboration: The full event team comes together to share and debate ideas. (60 minutes)
  4. Vetting: In-depth discussions to vet A-list campaign concepts, including preliminary scoping with time and budget. (60 minutes)
  5. Activation: The highest-rated ideas are moved into planning stages. 

Roles and Deliverables

One of the great benefits of the Marketing Growth Hackathon model is how little time is needed on the client's end. Once we agree on a SMART goal, we estimate 1 – 3 hours for clients pre-event in order to coordinate schedules and complete the worksheets. We take it from there!

The final deliverable includes an executive summary presentation, priority campaign concept summaries, related research and completed worksheets with full campaign sandbox.

  • (Client) Define SMART goal.
  • (Client) Complete audience, persona, accelerator and milestone worksheets. Templates to be provided by PR 20/20.
  • (Client) Organize schedules and invite internal stakeholders.
  • (PR 20/20) Conduct preliminary research on company, industry and existing assets. This phase includes interviews with marketing and sales leaders to understand the buyer journey, personas, sales obstacles and opportunities for better marketing/sales integration.
  • (PR 20/20) Perform review of Google Analytics data.
  • (PR 20/20) Review existing marketing tech stack available for the campaigns.
  • (PR 20/20) Facilitate hackathon and lead strategic discussions.
  • (PR 20/20) Document all concepts in shared worksheet.
  • (PR 20/20) Present workshop strategy brief, including recommended campaigns based on A-list concepts, within two weeks of the event.


Above: A sample hackathon campaign sandbox for hypothetical B2B tech company.

Interested? Contact us to learn more about running a hackathon at your organization.

Accelerate marketing performance with Ready North


Note: If you’re an agency interested in running the Marketing Growth Hackathon for clients, contact us and check the box “interested in licensing.” We will announce more details for our licensing program this fall.

Taylor Radey

Taylor Radey is the director of marketing and a senior consultant at PR 20/20. She joined the agency in April 2013 with a background in digital and content marketing. She is a 2009 graduate of the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at Ohio University, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Journalism, with a focus in public relations. Full bio.