IS-SMART Recommendations

After a few years of trying to teach students how to write recommendations, and incredible frustration seeing one line recommendations, I finally came up with a process that seems to work.  So I thought I’d share it with you.  Here is the IS-SMART method to writing recommendations.

IS – SMART Recommendations

Describe the issue you are addressing or the opportunity that you want to leverage.


State the strategy that you will take to address the issue or leverage the opportunity.

State the specific idea and list the marketing tactics (4Ps) you plan to use to execute the idea.


Describe the outcomes you expect to achieve and how you will measure those outcomes.


Describe the resources need to attain this recommendation and likelihood of success.


Describe how this recommendation is related and how it solves the problem or opportunity.


Describe the timelines that you need to make to successfully implement the recommendation.


Example:  Betty Crocker Cake Mixes

Background – Issue/Opportunity:

  • Consumers are interested in “extreme” cake decorating (e.g. Cake Boss).
  • They want to be more creative with their baking.
  • They are exploring this interest on social media sites such as Pinterest. (Trend/Opportunity)
  • Betty Crocker is not seen as innovative or contemporary. (Issue)
  • The brand is challenged to compete with in-store bakeries to deliver fun cake decorating ideas. (Issue)
  • Consumers are lapsing – leaving the convenience baking segment.


Reposition Betty Crocker among existing and lapsed users as the cake mix that lets you be more creative.

Specific Idea and Marketing Tactics to Address Issue/Opportunity

Price Line priced with Betty Crocker Supermoist cakes.
Consumer Promotion
Cake decorating contest targeting existing/lapsed bakers,“Baking with Betty” – Express your creative side
Tear away shelf pads with instructions/ideas
Pinterest & Facebook contest
Website for submissions of cakes
Winner featured on CityLine TV and on TV ad
Winning cake & instructions featured in Chatelaine magazine
Sales Promotion    
In-store display during fall baking festival
Point of sale materials
Push Money
No product changes
Examples and instructions on package

Outcomes and Measurement of the Initiative:

  • At least 75% of consumers who use convenience baking products will see Betty Crocker as innovative and creative in the next brand equity survey
  • Household penetration of Betty Crocker Cake Mixes increases from 25% of households to 30% of households in the ACN panel data for the period of the promotion (measures activation of lapsed users)
  • Units per purchase and frequency of purchase pre and during contest period to determine whether existing users are using more (ACN Panel Data)
  • Achieve share increase from 55.2 to 56.0 during the period of the promotion.

Attainable and Likelihood of Success:

Resources Needed:

  • $50,000 marketing budget to conduct the consumer promotion campaign in store and through social media
  • $150,000 to create TV ad and $500K for air time.

Likelihood of Success:

  • Success likely due to effective integration of social media, in-store and traditional tv support.
  • Fits well with consumer trends.

Describe how this recommendation addresses the issue or opportunity: 

This recommendation supports the Betty Crocker brand’s image of innovation through consumer trend to extreme cake decorating.

Packaging Design Completed                                  3 months
Product shipped                                                        5 months
Instore display & POS                                                5 months
Advertising begins                                                     6 months
Design Contest                                                          6 months
TV ad featuring winner                                             12 months

Although this is a marketing example, this recommendation format can be used for any discipline, or organization. The point is to have a detailed, well conceived recommendation.

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