Hopefully, if you’re a corporate marketer, brand manager, Marketing Director or Manager, you and your organization have a marketing plan that is reviewed every 4 months and updated, adjusted, reworked to maximize return on investment and protection and polish of the brand.
If you don’t, you’d better get one.
Most folks work toward having that plan include several different ways to measure their progress or success, often on a monthly or quarterly basis. Good for them. Not everything is directly measurable, but there are some indirect measurements you can use to gauge your effectiveness. Use them. Always.
For those of you forming a plan, here’s a few common things that marketers face when crafting a plan internally. Picture the planning meeting, and get a good bead on the personnel included in that meeting. These are things you shouldn’t succumb to from those in that meeting:
5) “We did it last year and it worked.” Marketers are supposed to be innovative, progressive, forward-thinking. Before you even get to the “and it worked” part, you should have a response ready that shoots this down. If you’re not moving forward you’re going backwards. Its a new year, use it.
4) “Our competitors did it last year, and it worked.” See above, plus how do you know if it worked? Unless you have espionage reports from inside the competing firm, you’re guessing. Plus, if you’ve stooped to the level of stealing from your competitor, why bother planning at all, just steal theirs.
3) “We don’t need new research, we know our customers.” Contrary to popular belief, your “gut” is not a primary research method, and won’t yield adequate or accurate data on your customers unless you have only one – you. Field intelligence is invaluable in helping to shape perceptions generated by research data, but if you use it as the basis of your planning, you’re missing a large part of your potential customer base. Why guess, when you can KNOW.
2) “Customer Service only deals with whiners, we don’t need to include their data in the plan.” CSRs and receptionists who answer the phone are a major source of information on your brand perception and characteristics. They are also key sources of information on the clarity, transparency and effectiveness of your sales promotion efforts. When the complaint call volume rises, it does so for a reason. Find out why, and fix it. Then take the list of those affected, and send them something nice, and ask them to tell their friends how nice you’ve been. Converting complainers to evangelists is a very effective way of expanding your reach and polishing your brand. Listen to the CSR traffic and respond quickly, include that metric in your plan.
1) “We don’t have results yet, but it looks like it’s working.” Some initiatives take longer than others to bear fruit. Unless you’re a start-up, you have at least some transactional data to work from, and can project results from that to gauge effectiveness of your previous efforts. If you really can’t get a bead on the impact of a campaign, don’t build your new initiatives based on that one – you could end up throwing good money after bad. Your plan needs to be broad spectrum enough and flexible enough to work around such issues without affecting the whole program.
Now that you’ve killed off all the bad ideas in the meeting, you can entertain the new, innovative and intriguing ones that you’ve forced everyone to come up with by taking away their crutches.
If you liked the thoughts presented here, find the best tools for marketing planning in my book, “The Marketing Doctor’s Survival Notes”