Friday, November 23, 2012

Marketing Plan - Step 5 'Marketing Programs'

These are the steps for creating a proper marketing plan:
  • Step 1 - Situation Analysis
  • Step 2 - Objectives & Issues
  • Step 3 - Target Market analysis
  • Step 4 - Marketing Strategy
  • Step 5 - Marketing Programs
  • Step 6 - Financial Plans
  • Step 7 - Measurement & Controls
  • Step 8 - Executive Summary
Step 5 - Marketing Programs.  In our last discussion, we talked about 3 of the 4 Ps; Product, Pricing, Place.  In this section we talk about the 4th P, Promotion.  Promotion is where most marketers hit their sweet spot.  We love creating and designing.  Some of us love the excitement of the measurement.  We believe you haven't lived until you experience hitting the 'send' button and then watching how many people click through the email or fill out the form.  The Modern Marketer knows that promotion is the culmination of the previous 4 steps.  If the previous 4 steps of the marketing plan are the foundation, then Promotion is the house.

As you begin to build your promotion plan, it is critically important to remember your analysis, results and agreements up to this point.  Promotion should be designed for the target audience using the positioning statement and value proposition as well as the agreed upon business strategy and marketing strategy.  The promotions should support the objectives you have previously agreed to with your stakeholders.  A promotion plan designed to generate leads is different than a plan designed to position the brand as thought leaders in the space, for example.

Promotion may include some of these tactics:  print advertising, digital advertising, direct mail, public relations outreach, SEO, SEM, direct sales promotion, direct marketing, etc.  Naturally, you have a limited budget and limited resources, so it's important to keep those limitations in mind.  The most effective promotions include both outbound activities and inbound activities that are integrated around the same message.  Outbound activities should be regular and frequent messages to the target audience.  Again, your promotions must support your strategy and objectives.  Oh, and one last note on promotions, they should be measurable if at all possible.

I find it helpful to use one of the modern marketing automation tools like Eloqua or Marketo for outbound, inbound and measurement.  But, alas, these tools are not easy to learn and not really that easy to leverage for efficiency.  That, my fellow modern marketers, is a topic for a future post.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Marketing Plan - Step 4 'Marketing Strategy'

These are the steps for creating a proper marketing plan:
  • Step 1 - Situation Analysis
  • Step 2 - Objectives & Issues
  • Step 3 - Target Market analysis
  • Step 4 - Marketing Strategy
  • Step 5 - Marketing Programs
  • Step 6 - Financial Plans
  • Step 7 - Measurement & Controls
  • Step 8 - Executive Summary
Step 4 - Marketing Strategy.  At this point, you should have a good understanding of the business situation and associated marketing situation.  You should have a clear understanding of the business objectives and critical issues that exist and their effect on the marketing plan going forward.  Your target market should be clearly defined and you should have a consummate understanding of the value your firm brings to the target market.

Congratulations my fellow Modern Marketer, you are now ahead of about 80% of your peers even if you stop right now.   But please, DON'T STOP now, we're coming up on the fun part.  You are now ready to begin formulating your marketing strategy.

But first,  spot quiz!  If you can't articulate these two foundational elements of your plan, go back to Step 1 and involve your key stakeholders until you can nail these two points down.
  1. What is your positioning statement?
  2. State your value proposition in 100 words or less?
The Marketing Strategy is quite complex and I can only hope to highlight the major sections in this blog post.  This is where you bring in the famous '4 P's of the Marketing Mix'.   You'll clearly talk about Product, Pricing, and Place (channel). The fourth P, Promotion will be discussed in our next blog post about Marketing Programs.

Product Marketing Strategy.  You should be able to articulate a product (or service) strategy and how it aligns with the business strategy.  The product strategy should address the current offering, future road map, and how each product fits the positioning and supports the value proposition.  Product marketing strategy can become very complex in a short time.  I strongly recommend you work with your product managers and business leaders on this section.

Pricing Strategy.   Every company should have a stated pricing strategy.  The pricing strategy must align with the positioning and value proposition.  For example, if you position your brand as high value with premium pricing, you should not worry about winning business by being lowest price.  It takes a very different infrastructure to compete on low price than it does to compete based on differentiated brand offering.

Place.  Place means channel.  How will your offering make final content with the end user?  This decision goes hand-in-hand with the other 4 P's and especially pricing.  Should you make the decision to use distributors or resellers, your gross margin requirement may be different than if you choose to sell direct.  This decision also affects your marketing programs which we will discuss in the next blog post.

Disclaimer:  I understand this is a very broad overview of a highly detailed subject.  My purpose here is to help you start thinking about this process.   The process of writing a plan is extremely helpful in building a profitable and growing business. You should find a good reference to go along these posts.  I recommend, 'The Marketing Plan Handbook' as a great reference.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Marketing Plan - Step 3 'Target Market Analysis'

These are the steps for creating a proper marketing plan:
  • Step 1 - Situation Analysis
  • Step 2 - Objectives & Issues
  • Step 3 - Target Market analysis
  • Step 4 - Marketing Strategy
  • Step 5 - Marketing Programs
  • Step 6 - Financial Plans
  • Step 7 - Measurement & Controls
  • Step 8 - Executive Summary

Step 3 - Target Market Analysis.  It's impossible to have an action plan without knowing your target.  Suppose someone handed you a bow and arrows while telling you to go ahead and hit the bulls-eye.  You accept what appears to be a highly sophisticated compound bow with a set of precision arrows, but there is no target.  The person who gave you the bow continues, "go ahead, just knock the arrow and hit the target."   No target in sight, how will you ever succeed?  This little metaphor happens in business more frequently than you may believe.   It might sound something like this, "here is your marketing budget.  'everyone' is our market. Now go ahead and get us some brand awareness, good leads and grow the business". 

A target market of 'everyone' or 'all industries' is the same thing as having no target at all.  I blogged about this a couple of months ago, check it out here.  Even companies like Pepsi and McDonalds define a target market that is not 'everyone'.

It is imperative to identify your target market so you can utilize your resources efficiently and effectively.  Markets may be defined in terms of geography, industry, business or consumer, sex, age, income, etc. The target market could be coalesced through this type of hierarchy:

  • Potential market - everyone who may have a need for your offering
  • Available market - the subset of the Potential Market who might have a need or may have sufficient means to make the purchase
  • Qualified available market - this is where you start to identify the characteristics of those who you will resonate with your value proposition and have the means to buy.
  • Target market - this is the final subset where you define the specific characteristics of your ideal prospective customers.
Choosing a target market is also referred to as 'segmenting' the market.  Your decisions should be based on a combination of feedback from internal stakeholders who have direct dialogue with the target audience and market research.  It is a big mistake to omit input from either.

Target market analysis should be completed with an open mind and should be reviewed on a regular basis.  The final result should be communicated throughout the company.  This decision (choosing a target market) will drive the marketing strategy, positioning, messaging and marketing activity.

One last note; it is important to consider where or if this market congregates.  There must be an efficient way to reach your target audience with your message.  For, if a majority of the target market does not congregate virtually or physically, it will be very expensive and most inefficient to get your message in front of them.  In the b2b world,  industry associations are a good example of a potential market because they may get together at and industry trade show, ready a trade journal and regularly visit the association and related web sites.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Marketing Plan - Step 2 'Objectives & Issues'

These are the steps for creating a proper marketing plan:
  • Step 1 - Situation Analysis
  • Step 2 - Objectives & Issues
  • Step 3 - Target Market analysis
  • Step 4 - Marketing Strategy
  • Step 5 - Marketing Programs
  • Step 6 - Financial Plans
  • Step 7 - Measurement & Controls
  • Step 8 - Executive Summary

Step 2 - Objectives & Issues.  In this next step you will be setting objectives for the marketing function and identifying issues that are already apparent or may become apparent as obstacles to achieving the objectives.  Objectives will come from the higher level business mission, strategy and goals.  Business objectives may center on growth, maintenance or profitability.  Each of these drive different marketing objectives. 

For example, growth could drive marketing objectives like; increase market share, promote a diversified offering to multiple target markets, or develop more products.  Whereas increasing profitability may drive marketing objectives such as increasing efficiency of marketing activities and improving ROI of marketing tactics.  It's important to tap the senior managers who agreed to participate in the marketing planning process at this point to ensure the marketing plan is aligned with the business objectives.

As with any proper objective, the marketing objectives must be specific, measurable and have a deadline.  The objectives should be realistic and the marketing team must believe the objectives can be achieved.  Ideally, there should be an incentive plan in place to encourage individuals to strive to reach the objectives.  Some examples of specific objectives:
  • Grow the number of customers by 25% by the end of 2013.
  • Increase revenue from existing customers by 30% in 2 years.
  • Reach break-even by end of fiscal year.
  • Participate in 3 community events during the next 12 months.
  • Ensure average ROI on marketing activities of at least 75%.
  • Contribute 25% to the sales funnel each quarter.
One important objective that should be in every marketing plan, but is often overlooked, is in support of internal marketing.   It's very important that all internal stakeholders are aware of the critical strategic and tactical marketing plans.  The Marketing Team should be promoting things like the positioning statement, value proposition, messaging, marketing objectives, tactics, activities, results and other issues.  Internal marketing helps align the entire revenue team around the objectives which results in a very powerful execution of the plan.

The last part of this section is to identify problems or issues.  If there are issues that may prevent achieving the objectives or activities that must occur to ensure the successful execution of the plan, they should be identified.  For example, if achieving ROI of 75% is an objective, an issue may be it will be necessary to purchase a marketing automation platform to measure and report ROI results.

Next up; Step 3 - Target Market Analysis