Productive Marketing: Don’t “Just Do It”

“Should we advertise?… increase our twitter presence?…launch an e-mail campaign?… or execute the hot marketing tactic du jour?  These are important questions that you should eventually consider, but in most cases these tactical questions are premature.  Often, they are an early warning sigh that you are on a dangerous path to a disappointing marketing campaign – – and a waste of your precious money.  If most of your recent conversations have been “should you?” save yourself from marketing peril right now. Instead, focus on why.  Set clear, specific business goals first to direct all of your marketing efforts.  It’s infinitely easier to hit a target when you aim.

The most important first question is: “What is your business objective?” Only after you have answered this do you have a sufficient foundation to develop, execute, and invest in a successful marketing program. Use this simple, but effective thought process to guide your marketing decision-making “Objective, Strategy, Tactics.” Here’s how it works:

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Step 1: Clarify your Objective

“What is your business objective?” The clearer and more precise this is, the more productive and cost-effective your marketing will be.

This is the level of clarity you should have for your annual business goals:
– WHAT: Increase a specific business measure (typically sales or market share) from X to Y
– WHO: Among specific target customers (e.g. new customers? existing customers? new channels?)
– WHEN: By what date will you accomplish and measure the business goals?
Now that you have a specific goal, you can develop marketing strategies and programs that link directly to your objective. Your business objective must link directly to your long term goals (typically a five year horizon) as documented in your Strategic Plan.

Step 2: Select Marketing Strategies to Achieve the Objective

Develop appropriate marketing strategies – which are ways you will accomplish the goal. Marketing strategies are not individual marketing programs.  They are the ‘hows’ not the ‘whats.’ The most successful companies and brands stay focused on three to five marketing strategies. This forces discipline and focus on doing fewer important things exceptionally well. Examples of specific marketing objectives are:
– Secure three new “A” accounts
– Increase retail distribution by 10 percent
– Increase awareness among target consumers by 8 percentage points
– Increase sales per transaction by 9 percent
Marketing strategies are the paths you choose to reach your goal. Setting and adhering to marketing strategies is a powerful tool to narrow your focus to only pursue “on strategy” ideas. Most companies have more than 15 percent of their marketing budget invested in programs that are not tied to one of their marketing strategies.  Does yours?

Step 3: Develop Marketing Tactics with Laser Precision

With your business objective and marketing strategies in place, you are now ready to build the marketing plan and evaluate marketing tactics.  Choose your tactics wisely. Make sure they achieve the marketing objective and are a sound choice, based on projected return-on-investment. Even though projecting sales is an imperfect science, marketing budgets must be critically evaluated, just like any other potential business investment.

When you choose among potential marketing tactics, 1) select the right marketing tool to accomplish your desired outcome (e.g. building consumer awareness and increasing customer loyalty are very different marketing challenges that require different marketing tools) and 2) choose the most productive, appropriate, and efficient option (i.e. compare alternative media or programs), different levels of investment in the program, and different creative resources to do the job.  Don’t make a sizable marketing investment in any program until you have evaluated its impact per dollar spent versus alternatives.  This does not recommend ‘analysis paralysis.’ Rather, it’s a plea for you to get the best possible marketing program you deserve

Step 4: Measure and Monitor Performance

Effective marketing, contrary to popular belief, yields measurable results.  Before you start a program, commit to measure the actual performance of the program versus the projected results. Evaluate performance at specific program intervals, typically incremental sales for the duration of the program, and at three- and six- month intervals after its completion, to measure sustained impact.  This keeps you and your organization focused on desired results, rather than activity.

Measuring program impact also gives you quantifiable return-on-investment information to determine whether you should repeat or expand the program in the future. The marketplace is littered with victims of doing marketing tactics without setting business goals. You are bombarded with these potential marketing tragedies every day. Avoid this common plight by applying the same amount of rigor that you use on your other strategic investments. Get more out of every precious marketing program – and dollar!-by using this simple but effective formula: “Objective, Strategy and Tactics.”

by Tammy Katz

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Annual Plan Checklist for a Killer 2016!

We hope your 2015 is exceeding expectations and you’ve created a strong plan for 2016 to grow faster.  As most of you are, or are approaching, completing your 2016 Plan, here’s a checklist to make sure you’re ready for a killer 2016!

2016 Annual Plan Checklist

1. Develop a Written, Market Based Growth Plan Carefully

  • Analyze and segment your customer and consumer base, prioritize by growth potential
  • Understand what your customers’ unmet needs and why they will choose your superior product or service
  • Build a strategy that leverages your business model: market opportunities, your core competencies and where you are most profitable

2. Widely Communicate Your Growth Strategy

  • Summarize your 3-5 Key Growth Strategies, based on factual analysis (e.g. channels, products/services)
  • Growth Priorities should be quantified and clearly communicated throughout your company and key constituents (e.g. suppliers) so everyone understands them and is aligned
  • Innovation should be among your top priorities; have clear parameters (fertile areas in which to innovate) to provide direction

3. Have, or Get, the Right Accountable Team

  • Have accountable talent who can lead and drive respective pieces of the growth strategy
  • Have strong and clear inter-department communication and processes
  • Have the right talent who can produce; commit to coach up, outsource for, or dismiss those who can’t

4. Execute with Cross-Functional Precision

  • Have clear leadership, accountability and measurement of top initiatives
  • Maintain ongoing cross-functional leadership and communication to keep key initiatives on track
  • Track key programs quantitatively and refine them based on in-market learnings

5. Deploy Effective and Efficient Marketing

  • Marketing should identify and drive consumer and marketing growth opportunities
  • Marketing should develop and lead a clear marketing strategy that directly ties to growth strategy Your brand positioning(s) should be clear, consistently communicated.
  • Your marketing communication and R&D efforts should consistently strengthen your superiority
  • All major programs should be on strategy, measurable, optimized across multiple media, and provide measurable return-on-investment

6. Drive Productivity… Everywhere

  • Set ambitious, achievable productivity goals (cost reduction/efficiency). $1 in productivity > $10 in new sales
  • Challenge each function to develop specific, measurable, cash-saving (not conceptual) programs; drive wide participation
  • Celebrate, publicize, and reward best programs. This creates a ripple effect for more productivity

Target Triumphs with Consistent Marketing Communication

A staggering 96% of Americans recognize Target Corporation‘s bullseye, putting the brand in the brand awareness stratosphere with the likes of Nike and Coca-Cola.target2

This exceptional brand awareness is a direct result of their consistent communication. While most chief marketers continue to cite Integrated Marketing Communication as their biggest challenge, according to the Association of National Advertisers, Target masters it. Continue reading