Tag Archives: smart objectives

Marketing plans – who needs them anyway?

Annual Planning

“We want to create value for you by sharing marketing tips and timesavers” – O’C&K.

The ABCs of planning an effective marketing programme. 

Having a glass of wine with some friends recently, we got into a discussion about the need for marketing plans in a business. My ‘friends’ thought that as O’C&K is now almost 16 months old and because I  ‘do’ maaarketing (sic), I should be a spokesperson for consultants worldwide.

Being curious business people (and prospects for me), they held that as traditional marketing efforts were being ignored by the public, marketing plans were defunct. Ergo – there is no need for outsourcing companies like O’C&K any more.

Yes, I did rise to the bait and, in fact, it gave me the basis for the content of this blog post.

They based their point on a simple business premise – if the customer is in charge then all a business needs to do is develop a product that people need and they will buy it. They also laboured the point that if traditional marketing isn’t working so well nowadays, why would a business require an agency?

I countered that the word ‘traditional’ was a misnomer really, because T.V. Radio and Print were still relevant as important channels in the communication mix. I continued that there was no ‘new’ marketing either, just new tools available to meet emerging consumer trends. They accused me of using jargon so I highlighted their business premise example saying that it was missing one vital ingredient – relevancy.

Continuing, I explained that not all people are going to need / want their product so, letting the relevant people know about it, when and where they have a need to know is the key. This has always been a challenge of communication but, more so nowadays. To progress, you need to engage in a smarter way and to do that effectively, you need plans – marketing plans.

Breaking to have a sip of wine, I then said that I accepted their point that the power has swung to the consumer, which has resulted in the slow demise of broadcast marketing. Consumers now have tons of information to hand, through various devices, and are listening to relevant brand stories instead of impulse buying, which requires even more effective engagement.

So I finished them off by stating that how we undertake communication is changing, but the need for marketing plans will never go away.

We all agreed that the customer is coming into the sales cycle at a much later stage than they might have in the past, and that information on a business needs to be available 24/7, which means having an online presence, as well as offline activity.

It is because of this need for integration that organisations require to outsource, some or all of, their marketing activity to companies like O’C&K who are there to take the pressure of planning and implementation, in the modern age.

I think I had won the debate at this stage as I was nominated to buy the next round of drinks. However, I did agree with them that the marketing industry needs to adapt its role more rapidly so as to be able to assist organisations engage with their customers in a smarter way. What do you think?

The C TEAM Mnemonic.

Because of the ‘bar’ chat outlined above, I thought it’d be interesting to look at modern marketing plans a little more. Of course, marketing has always been about converting relationships into long term clients but let’s have a quick look at some common terms again – I’ll use the mnemonic – CTEAM, for convenience;

Conversion is all about enhancing the customer experience at all touch points.

Targeting an audience is about data collection from new sources, not just traditional demographics.

Engagement was always a requirement but now customers want more value from interactions.

Analytics are almost as important as an actual campaign. They are now a differentiator in business.

Marketing automation, social monitoring and intelligence gathering requirements mean keeping up-to-date with technology, more than ever.

Of course, it is not all of a sudden about optimising websites, social media and new marketing tools but marketers can now move away from manual processes and guesswork. The role of marketing has not changed, in that customer relationships still need to be enhanced with a view to generating revenue, but if the role can be undertaken in a smarter way, then perhaps the marketing ROI will be stronger.

Whilst one should be aware of the CTEAM requirements of a modern marketer, that old war horse – the marketing plan – has not gone away. It remains a truism that organisations with (flexible) plans perform better than those who don’t.

Building marketing plans.

If you’ll forgive me for mentioning myself (again), for a moment, a few years ago I took a Digital Marketing Course with the Marketing Institute of Ireland. One of our presenters on the topic of marketing plans was Paul Smith, who shared his SOSTAC® model with us. Essentially, it is a seven step guide to creating a marketing plan which I believe can be used as a template for an integrated offline and online outline of activity.

Here is a link to Paul talking about the model on YouTube but just in case you haven’t got 4 minutes to view it right now – here’s the gist of it.

1)  Situation Analysis – where are we now? This is about understanding your customers. It’s like doing an audit on your business (SWOT). In addition, you are trying to get views on where your business is from the viewpoint of your customers. There are many research options available for this.

2)  Objectives – where do we want to be? Yep, it’s the SMART objective setting formula again. But in this case, Paul developed a 5s model in relation to ‘softer’ objectives rather than just concentrating on numbers e.g. customer care, communications and adding “sizzle”.

3)  Strategy – how do we get there? This is where you brainstorm about strategic initiatives that you might pursue. When you know what you are going to do, it should be easier to position the business, create customer personae and target prospects.

4)  Tactics (incl. Action & Control) – precisely, how do we get there? This involves the pulling together of the strategic initiatives into a marketing plan. Who does what, where, when, how etc?

Paul Smith suggested to us that we spend almost 100% of our time on these first four headings. Something along the lines of, (1) 50%, (2) – (4) 50%. He reckoned the last two stages of 5) Action and 6) Control should be incorporated into the other sections anyway.

This brief reference does not do the model justice so I do recommend you view the video or better still buy the book / guide on Amazon. Here is another link to Paul’s SOSTAC Planning page.

Tips and Timesavers.

Here are our ABCs to remember when planning an effective marketing programme:

a)      Marketing communication principals won’t change whatever new tools abound.

b)      Every business needs flexible and integrated marketing plans.

c)      Every business needs a great product / service.

d)     Customer service is your marketing.

e)     Target the relevant people for your business.

f)      Listening is the most underrated marketing activity.

g)     Engagement is wasteful without relevancy.

h)     Emotions drive human behaviour.

i)      ‘Traditional’ channels should still be an integral part of your marketing plans.

j)      Website reviews and makeovers should be reiterative.

k)     A clear and simple brand story is the best way of messaging.

l)      Use testimonials to demonstrate expertise and trust.

m)   Lead nurturing should be a priority for all employees not just sales / marketing.

It is an exciting time for business owners (and marketers) but let’s face it, it is also a hectic and sometimes confusing time. Everyone wants to keep up with technology and have the latest tool to generate revenue. We do need to remember my point in the fifth paragraph above – “there is no ‘new’ marketing”. Planning for the right audience is crucial. Thereafter, the integration of all relevant channels into the marketing mix will go a long way towards being able to adapt to any emerging consumer trend.

To finish off, here are some O’C&K thoughts for inclusion when building marketing plans in the future:  pay to play online is here to stay so spending your money on the right channels and content will become even more important. Quality content will require professional writers to be part of your team. Balanced use of marketing automation tools will shine through. Mobile is the new marketplace. Outsourcing will play an integral part in an increasingly lean business environment.

 If you have any other tips or timesavers please leave a reply below. If you’d like to receive similar content, just subscribe by clicking through the pink button, on this page.  Of course, if you want to get in touch, leave your details and perhaps we might meet for a chat, cheers.   Jim – O’C&K