Marketing Planning - How could you get there?
So you know where you are and you know where you're going, time to plan your route. This is a big subject so I'd better call this step 3a and let's see how much of the alphabet I manage to get through!
Given infinite resources you could let your imagination run riot and go by the marketing equivalent of luxury yacht or supersonic jet, but maybe your options are more limited to a pick-up truck or even a donkey! The point is, at this stage of the game, not to let yourself be too hamstrung by your lack of resources because it might lead you to rule out interesting options prematurely.
Jim was presenting on entrepreneurship to a Young Enterprise group recently and came across the following definition by John Burgstone, in his book 'Breakthrough Entrepreneurship':
"Entrepreneurship is the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled"
Focusing on resources as the differentiator, rather than purely talking creativity, innovation, etc. is interesting. He went on to say:
“Every time you want to make any important decision, there are two possible courses of action. You can look at the array of choices that present themselves, pick the best available option and try to make it fit. Or, you can do what the true entrepreneur does: Figure out the best conceivable option and then make it available.”
Now this advice is most appropriate really to our next step, 'Which way is best?', but if you don't take this approach now you might start with too narrow a perspective and you may miss out on the big time!
An array of choices
The sheer number of different options available can, however, lead to paralysis. And we're all about making planning easy, so we need to look at how we can use some simple tools and frameworks to help to stimulate ideas and organise our thinking. And the number one framework that marketers use is the Marketing Mix or the 4 Ps (or 7Ps, or sometimes 8, 10, 12).
Back in my days as a student there were only 4 Ps in the marketing mix, and frankly that was ample. These days the academics seem to have settled on 7, with the extra 3 helping to differentiate your planning when you are offering a service rather than a tangible product. But most products these days have a strong service element so I prefer to integrate the extra aspects back into the original 4.
It'll no doubt be clearer if I tell you what they are!
- Product - representing the value that you deliver to customers, and the experience pre & post purchase.
- Price - essential because price is your direct link to revenue, but often under-developed as a marketing discipline in small companies.
- Place - where and how people buy what you are offering: channels of distribution (including web), logistics. The importance of this element will vary depending on the nature of your business.
- Promotion - communicating the value to your target audience to compell them to buy.
- People - I think this is part of product, but it is emphasising how important it is to have the right people, trained and willing to deliver your brand value, particularly if you are in a service industry.
- Process - similarly part of product or place in my view, but customer satisfaction with services are equally dependent on processes as they are on the people used in delivery.
- Physical evidence - I would put this in promotion, but it refers to the need to give something tangible to customers who are seeking to make a purchasing decision about a service because you can't always see, feel or touch it before you use it.
What I love about the marketing mix is that it forces you to consider the breadth of your business and not to jump straight to promotions in your marketing plan. In fact, one of my first ever blogs, back in 2008, was about the 4 Ps, entitled 'How many ps in marketing?'!
In the next increments of step 3 I'm going to take you through each of the 4 Ps in more detail, looking at some other tools you can use along the way, to build yourself a set of choices to answer the question, 'How could I get there?'.