Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Plan

From one of my clients:

Don't Fail to Plan Your Marketing Efforts. Seven Steps to Help You Plan... to Succeed.

Thom Villing
Written by:
Thom Villing

As we approach the end of a year that many people would just as soon forget, it may be a good time to remember to work on your marketing plans for 2010.

Let’s start with a fundamental question. Do you have a marketing plan?

I’m always a bit amazed at how many organizations don’t. Whether it’s apathy, lack of time, or a desire to explore the unknown, some marketers have neither a destination in mind, nor a map to help them get there. Marketing is often viewed as something to be dealt with when people have time get around to it. At the risk of falling back on a cliché, a failure to plan can be the equivalent of a plan to fail.

For my part, I would rather see people plan to succeed.

If I have inspired you to at least think about the planning process, here are a few things to keep in mind.

  1. A down economy is the best time to move up in market share. All the signs seem to indicate the economy is on the verge of improving. If you take steps now to increase market share, your slice of the revenue pie will be that much sweeter when the recession is over.
  2. Consider an objectives and task based budget. Many companies base their marketing budgets on arbitrary approaches like what they did the previous year, a percentage of sales, industry averages — or worse still, whatever monies are left after all other line items have been addressed. You would be far better served to determine what you want to accomplish in 2010 and use that as the basis for your budget. These other methods can help keep things in perspective, but a needs-based budget is far more likely to help you achieve your objectives.
  3. Have you ever analyzed your brand? Do you truly know what it means to your current and prospective customers? Do you understand how your brand can differentiate you from your competitors? Now might be a good time to go through that process.
  4. Know your friends. Know your enemies better. OK, some people prefer not to think of their competitors as enemies (although many do). Regardless, if you want to take market share away from your competitors, you need to know what they may have to offer that you don’t — and vice versa.
  5. Tactics aren’t strategies. This is an easy trap to fall into. I find myself doing it on occasion. But an effective marketing plan really requires well thought out strategies based on knowledge and insights. Acquiring and analyzing relevant knowledge takes time and discipline. Combing through that information to identify critical insights takes time, thought and an element of creativity. Planning to succeed in 2010 is well worth the investment of time necessary to generate appropriate strategies.
  6. Get your marketing in gear. Synergistic marketing can be a powerful trump card. Make sure your Web site is effectively integrated with your overall Internet marketing strategy, which is in turn, meshing with traditional marketing communications like advertising, public relations and sales promotion. Results increase exponentially when the elements of your plan are engineered to be totally in sync.
  7. Think about results, but don’t over-think. Everybody is concerned about ROI these days. Appropriately so. But sometimes people put so much emphasis on irrelevant statistics that they lose sight of the bigger picture. Like many things in life, there needs to be balance. You need to know and understand how to evaluate the results of your efforts. However, there is such a thing as paralysis through analysis. The most effective marketing often involves an element of risk. There’s nothing wrong with trying something your industry has never seen before. It could bomb. It could also exceed beyond your fondest expectations.
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