Planning is the key to Marketing Strategy

Planning is a key to most things including marketing strategy

Every business needs strategies for winning new clients.  Through creative advertising, media planning and promotional activities your business can potentially attract new customers and generate revenue growth.

I stress the importance of planning, market fact gathering and defining critical success factors as part of your marketing strategy.

It is especially important for a business operating within a defined community or territory, that you spend your money on effective advertising and promotion – that is, only advertise to your potential, and just as important, existing customers.

There is a myriad of existing and emerging media options which poses significant anxiety around knowing which media, or combination, will return the best result for the investment.

Balancing your marketing and media mix does take time and planning and should form a significant part of your business process. A SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) brainstorm with your advisers or colleagues opens the channels for a better understanding of what you are good at, customer requirements, improvement opportunities and competitive threats.

Remember every business has a competitor and consumers today have so much choice. Don’t under estimate the fact that marketing is warfare. Gurus Al Ries and Jack Trout stated in their book that it is not just about serving the customer; it is about outwitting, outflanking and outfighting competitors.

Also, you can’t manage what you don’t measure and therefore you should be analyzing the details and value of the leads generated through your advertising against the costs of the campaigns to evaluate the return on investment. There is a good case for any of the 17 options listed below but few businesses could afford to use all options or the time to implement and maintain them. For medium sized enterprises it is a case of analyzing the target market and aligning the media that provides “reach” into that market. The media and consideration options are:

  • Word of Mouth – testimonials, referred lead prospecting
  • Newspapers – Display and Classified in Metro and Community publications
  • Radio – program sponsorships
  • Television – Program sponsorships
  • Magazines – targeted features
  • Directories –, Yellow Pages
  • Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Utube
  • Mobile – sms, smartphone apps, ipad apps
  • Internet – Website, Online Directories, Search Engine Marketing (SEM), locally relevant sites
  • Public Relations – media releases, editorials
  • Direct Marketing – Fridge Magnet, letterbox, catalogue, Yellow envelope
  • Database marketing – post, email
  • Outdoor – bus backs, bus shelters, mobile vehicles
  • Seminars – educate and inform (Franchise sales)
  • Sponsorships – Community events, sports clubs
  • Telemarketing – Customer Relationship Management
  • Door knocking – introduce yourself to the neighbourhood or community

The frequency that you advertise will be dependent on the budget allocation. Frequency, in media jargon, refers to the number of times that your potential customer impact with your advertising. Obviously most people don’t necessarily purchase a service product the first time they see and advertisement. Retail advertising based on brand and price will stimulate consumers. The nitty gritty is as Robert Goldstein of Procter and Gamble fame put it: “The role of advertising is to sell product. There are a variety of ways but basically only one objective.”

The creative advertising brief is the key planning document for your media or advertising agency account Manager to translate the customers advertising requirements to the respective designers and media planners to execute either one advertisement or a campaign. An advertising brief can be one of the most difficult things to write. Strange things happen to people when they sit down to ponder the target markets, unique selling propositions and elements.

People with an intimate knowledge, understanding and passion for their business have difficulty expressing what they really want from an advertisement or campaign.

Unless we, as advertising professionals, can extract the product or service features and benefits, business background, previous campaign performance, vision, personality and style then we will not do justice and meet the expectations of the owner or marketing manager.

Be honest to yourself and your business by expressing your vision in extreme detail. We like to start by identifying all of the features on offer and then look at them in terms of what the advantages and benefits will be for customers.  In his book ‘How to Win & Keep Customers’, Dr Michael Le Boeuf says “the only two things people ever buy are good feelings and solutions to problems”.  So how will your business provide good feelings or solve a problem?

Much of the advertising that I review says little apart from providing great quality and great service. Let’s face it, your competitors are already claiming that they offer great quality and great service.  What you really need to know is what your competitors do well and what they do poorly, and develop it into a unique selling proposition and build your marketing strategy and advertising around it.

Tony Becker