Marketing Planning - Which way is best?
At the end of step 3 in your marketing planning process you will have created a list of possible options against the 4Ps in the marketing mix: product, price, place and promotion. Depending on your levels of creativity and enthusiasm you may have a relatively short list - or a very, very, long list! Chances are, however, that you can't do all of the options - some may be contradictory and you may just not have enough resources.
So we have to make some choices. What activities are going to make it into your action plan and what strategy are you going to follow?
You do this by testing the options against the criteria you have already identified:
- How much will this activity contribute towards my objectives?
- Do I have access to the resources - budget, time, skills - needed to deliver?
- Does my analysis of the environment identify that the chances of success are good?
And by confirming your strategy.
Many of you will have come across this model for linking your marketing strategy with the overall strategic direction. It offers four alternative growth strategies:
- Market penetration: by pushing existing products in their current market segments
- Market development: by developing new markets for the existing products.
- Product development: by developing new products for the existing markets.
- Diversification: by developing new products for new markets.
The top left option (1) is the least risky as you have greater knowledge and experience and, for the exact opposite reason the bottom right option (4) is the most risky!
Based on your market and portfolio analysis you can determine which one or combination of strategies you are pursuing.
Set out your Action Plan
As you review all your options you are also determining the timescale in which you could and should tackle the activity. You may not need to rule out activities completely but it may make more sense to schedule some of them for the longer term when you can resource them properly.
Your detailed Action Plan will probably look at a shorter horizon, maybe a rolling six months, that you can review and add to as you go along.
When you're putting your actions down on paper you need to be brutally honest if you're going to end up with a plan that you and your team, if appropriate, can actually have faith in. Challenging everyone is one thing but an unachievable plan is just demoralising and risks nothing getting done at all.
For each action you need to identify:
- What is being proposed - a clear description
- The objective - what this will contribute to your overall targets
- An owner - who is responsible for carrying out the action
- Timescale - when it needs to be done by
- Budget - the proportion of your overall budget assigned to this activity
The level of detail that you take your project planning to is entirely up to you and will depend on your personal approach and the approach of your team members. From the perspective of the One-Page-Marketing-Plan I have suggested you keep it simple and just capture the headline basics on your template. But more complex activities will certainly require more detailed supporting plans.
For example, if launching a new product into the portfolio is one of the options there will definitely be a lot of work needed to achieve this one action and a separate plan would be advisable.
Hit the road
At the end of this process you've done your planning and are ready to hit the road and make it real. Confident that you know where you're going and how you're going to get there!
How long this next part takes is dependent on the scope of your plan, but the critical thing is to keep the plan under review and be prepared to adapt and adjust as new information comes your way.
Next time - the final part of our planning journey - how do you know when you've arrived?
Sharon Wilding is a Chartered Marketer with many years experience in marketing for businesses large and small. As a lecturer and a practioner she aims to help small businesses use theory in practical ways to improve performance. You can connect with Sharon on Google+, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter.