Memorable marketing solutions exclusively for small businesses in Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire     May 2008




I love it when a plan comes together ...

You wouldn't go on a journey without some sort of plan of your method of travel, your route, the expected duration and, of course, a clear idea of the destination.  Would you?

But, when it comes to marketing small businesses, it seems that many people happily embark on their 'journey' with no plan at all!  There really is no excuse for not having some level of plan before you start spending money on marketing. 

And planning isn't that difficult.  Here is an outline of a simple five stage marketing planning process.  It's an approach that I use all the time ...

Where are we now?

This stage gives you the start position for your 'journey'.

An honest audit of your current position, in terms of your own capability versus your competition as well as taking notice of external factors that will affect your business (Political, Economic, Social, Technological).  Collating factors about your business under the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats headings is a useful approach, but remember that these are factors relative to your competition, i.e. a strength is only a strength if its means that you are better at something than your competitors.

Where are we going?

This stage defines the destination for the 'journey'.

Having a clear and obtainable destination in mind is essential.  It can be expressed in any number of ways, but is best when it is at its most tangible and realistic and includes a timeframe.

I prefer to define marketing objectives in terms of the number and type of customers that are required to be recruited or retained over the time period.  For example;

  • Acquire 25 net new customers with an average contract value of 25K over the next two years.
  • Increase repeat purchase frequency for 50% of Product X customers from 2/year to 4/year by 2007.

A quick calculation of increased revenue and profit from meeting these goals will allow you to determine if they are sufficient for your financial needs.  It will also help you determine what level of budget is appropriate to assign to achieving them.

How might we get there?

This is the stage where you look at all the different ways of moving from where you are now to where you want to be.

It's worth spending some time 'brainstorming' different ways to achieve your goals.  Doing what you always did will generally deliver what it always did before.  If you want to improve performance you might need to think of new approaches.

Don't be afraid to look at competitors and other industries for good ideas.  If you are still short of ideas, try talking to colleagues, friends, family, and so on.  You never know what will come out of it.

Which way is best?

This stage is where you decide on the best approach and develop the specific activities that you'll undertake.  It also covers budgeting and milestone setting.

This is the stage where the infamous 4 P's of marketing can be used to define specific activities and timelines for your strategy.

The 4P's cover activities related to Product, Price, Place and Promotion.  If you are a service business then you might like to think in terms of three additional P's, covering People, Process and Physical Evidence (giving tangibility to an intangible service).  Finally, if you want to go the whole hog, you can add an eighth P for Planet (covering 'green' and societal elements).

The P's are a very useful way of a) breaking down a large problem into smaller, more manageable chunks, and b) remembering that marketing is at its most effective in combination.

Are we still on track and have we arrived yet?

The final stage focuses on being sure that you are following your plan, making fine tuning adjustments if necessary, and looking to see of you've arrived at the destination yet.

Here, you'll be undertaking regular reviews of your marketing activities and spend, and checking that it's all working as planned.  Where needed, you can make adjustments to take account of unforeseen difficulties and new opportunities. 

All the while, though, you'll need to keep your chosen destination in mind.  Don't get distracted by short term opportunities, no matter how tempting they might seem. 

Memorable marketing

Thinking and working pragmatically like this will help to make your marketing work better for you in a more memorable way. This means that your target customers will be able to differentiate your products and services from those of your competitors and clearly see the value in buying from you.

If you would like some advice on memorable marketing techniques for your own business, or you know someone at another business who might need help, then please contact us. The sooner you start, the sooner you will benefit.


Planning Your Marketing

Download this handy guide which explains how best to approach planning your marketing in order to improve business effectiveness.

Written by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as part of their Directors' Briefing series, this document makes easy reading for business people of all experience levels.


Marketing Effectiveness Assessment

A free service to small businesses in the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire area, the Marketing Effectiveness Assessment delivers a professional audit of how a business is using the tools of marketing to communicate to existing and potential customers. It also includes a series of simple and cost-effective marketing activities that the business can implement immediately and at low cost.

Download the factsheet now.


Useful Links ...

Adduce Marketing

Chartered Institute of Marketing

Marketing UK (information portal)

Marketing Profs (free articles)



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