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Original post : 16 May 2012

Marketing Planning - Getting Started

Marketing Planning - which way to go?Following on from my last blog on the 1-page marketing plan I did promise to give some extra help on how to go about developing your plan - having warned you that it's the thinking that goes into creating the one-pager that is important, not the time to write one page! So here we are.

There is a simple 5 step process that I use to help me organise my thoughts when planning:

  1. Where are you now?
  2. Where are you going?
  3. How could you get there?
  4. Which way is best?
  5. How will you know when you've arrived?

I'm going to use these as 'chapters' to help guide you through the marketing planning process, but they work equally well for any plan you have to make.

Say, for example, you need to make a plan for a trip to London. How do you do that?

  1. Where are you now? Obviously if you don't know your starting point then it's really difficult to get any sort of plan together to get you to London! Let's assume it's Canterbury.
  2. Where are you going? Well, we know it's London but some additional detail will be useful here. Not just where exactly you need to be, but at what time and on what date. Let's assume Piccadilly for a meeting at 11.30am.
  3. How could you get there? Being creative you can identify a number of different options: train, coach, bus, car, bicycle, hitch-hiking or even walking! or maybe, more likely, a combination of those.
  4. Which way is best? Here you get to select the best option to achieve your objective - which is to get from Canterbury to Piccadilly for an 11.30am meeting. Additional information may also need to be brought into play, i.e. budget, availability of services, resources (access to car/bike), and skills (can you drive). Taking all these things into account you'll eventually decide the route you will take.
  5. How will you know when you've arrived? Maybe not such a daft question if you're going somewhere you've never been before! My guess is that you will use data such as external signs to tell you where you are on the journey (to check you are heading in the right direction) and to tell you when you are at your final destination. Failing that maybe you'll ask a policeman!

We're all used to planning simple journeys and can move quickly through each of the steps, hardly aware of the analysis and filtering that we are doing to guide our decision-making. But when it comes to make a plan for our marketing activity we may need to take a bit longer and act more consciously.

I mentioned before the article that said that smes trust their gut over data - when it comes to your marketing plan I suggest it is fine to start with some instinctive assumptions but that you should then test those just to make sure. The closer you are to something the more difficult it can be to see it objectively. Take some time to stand back, look around and double-check!

So next posting we'll consider step 1 - where are you now? And we'll look at some useful, easy to apply tools to help you get your location pinpointed just right!

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