The new financial year has commenced in an interesting manner including our own election, Brexit and colourful leadership quests around The World. These distractions may have resulted in you entering the new financial year without finalising your marketing strategy.
Making a start on your Strategic Marketing Plan can be a daunting thought and in light of this we have developed what we refer to as our ‘Fast-Track Marketing Plan’. Borrowing from our ‘Fast-Track Marketing Plan’ the following are 3 important strategic marketing planning and decision-making areas to get right. Strategic planning and clarity in these areas will help point your ‘ship’ in the right direction and select the right marketing tools and initiatives.
1. Your Company Vision Timeline
It can be very useful to take a step back and consider where you would like your brand or business to be in three or five years’ time. Key elements to define and plan for include:
- What are your sales and growth targets and are they realistic?
- Where will the growth emanate from? i.e. What are your specific growth initiatives?
- What are your available marketing resources in terms of time available, expertise, and marketing spend?
- How will you fund this growth from an operational/production, human resource and capital perspective?
- What are the broader/company-wide implications and requirements of this planned growth e.g. new facilities, staff, finance, competitor response and management etc.
It is difficult to make quality decisions in other areas of strategic brand marketing and your business as a whole if you do not have a clearly defined vision. Additionally, by giving appropriate consideration to your company vision timeline you will identify broader financial and operational business development requirements that can undermine sales and marketing growth efforts if not planned for. In other words it will help you avoid mistakes and surprises further down the track.
2. Your Brand Marketing Strategy
Your brand marketing strategy is where you work through the key decision areas associated with the promotion and sales of your specific brands. The most important brand marketing strategy decisions to make can be summarised as follows:
Research and Information Requirements:
Do you have all of the important information that you need or do you need to invest in further information collection or research e.g. mystery shopping of competitors or gaining useful customer feedback?
Target Market Selection:
Review your selected target markets and confirm that you have selected the most attractive and most profitable primary target market segments upon which to focus the resources of your business
Brand and Price Positioning:
Give thorough consideration to available information regarding customer needs and define your desired Brand and Price Positioning which will form the platform for your key communication messages
Market Channel Plans:
Consider the customers purchasing process and define the most appropriate market channels for your products, services and brands including sales and distribution partners and influencer/referral sources. This is where you decide to target the end-customer directly or via one or more market channels (such as influencers, referral sources, retailers or brokers and distributors etc.)
Product and/or Service Mix:
In the context of decisions made above (i.e. Target Markets, Brand and Price Positioning and Market Channels) consider your existing product and/or service mix. Do you need to inject new lines, innovation, variety into your range offering or is there a need to rationalise in order to be meaningful to the customer and be sustainable?
You may have more than one important brand and this means you may need to approach these decisions from the perspective of each brand first and then consider an overall company approach.
3. Your 12 to 24-month Marketing Activity Schedule
If you have completed your planning and decision-making process in the above two areas (i.e. company vision timeline and brand marketing strategy) you will find the process of mapping out and deciding your 12 to 24-month marketing activity schedule to be quite simple.
By this stage you will have defined the long-term direction of your business and in doing this you will have defined the resources that you have available to invest in your 12 to 24-month Marketing Activity Schedule (i.e. time available, expertise and marketing spend etc.). You will have also made key decisions such as your Primary Target Market, desired Brand Positioning and Market Channel Plans. This makes it easy to review the alternative marketing tools and initiatives at your disposal and select those tools and initiatives that will provide the best return on investment.
Key factors to address in your 12 to 24-month Marketing Activity Schedule include:
- Which customer, distribution, influencer or referral groups will the selected marketing activities target?
- What are the specific objectives and desired outcomes of the selected marketing activities?
- Have you planned and budgeted for all of the required set-up stages for the selected marketing activities?
- Does your selection of the various digital, traditional and sales orientated marketing activities represent the best return on investment for your overall marketing resources?
- Do you have the marketing resources (i.e. time, expertise and marketing spend) to set-up and implement the defined 12 to 24-month Marketing Activity Schedule?
As mentioned earlier the above decision-making areas are borrowed from the approach taken when working through our ‘Fast-Track Marketing Plan’ process. There are numerous additional marketing planning and decision-making concepts that can be considered. However, I am confident that the above approach represents the highest-priority and most important strategic marketing decisions that face most business and brand owners.
Completing your strategic marketing plan does not need to be an overly complex process and should be very rewarding and possibly even a ‘fun’ process. Please let me know if you think that either myself or others in the Baker Marketing team can help you with the above or any other marketing challenges that you face.