Spend Less.... Achieve More, With Marketing Planning

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Have you ever noticed how successful people seem to be able to achieve a huge amount in a short space of time? Want to know the secret?  They all know what they want to achieve before they set out. They all have a marketing plan.

It’s a simple principle: if you know what you want the outcomes to be, it’s much easier to plan the input required to make those outcomes happen.

It may be simple but, when it comes to marketing, that one golden rule of identifying what success looks like and mapping a critical path to get there seems to elude so many people.

Let me give you an example. A construction firm has set aside some money for marketing and is approached for sponsorship by a local football team. A week later the advertising manager of a key trade magazine rings up and offers a special rate on the front cover. The week after that, a web designer gets in contact and explains how he can revamp the company’s website.  The company has enough money in the pot and says yes to all three opportunities. They all, in their own way, make an impact.  But what kind of impact? Not an impact that’s focused on achieving specific commercial goals? Not an impact aligned to brand development and certainly not an integrated impact that is based on any kind of strategic approach.

In my experience, companies often get a bit scared when you start talking about ‘strategy’. Partly, I think, because they’re worried that it’s an expensive naval-gazing exercise and partly because they’re concerned it will become a straightjacket that confines them to only prescribed marketing activities. They’d be wrong on both counts.  A marketing strategy is the cornerstone of any successful marketing campaign because, if devised well, it identifies achievable outcomes aligned to the company’s commercial objectives and business strengths.  With that in place, all marketing tactics, whether planned in advance or considered as an ad hoc opportunity, can be viewed in the context of those strategic goals to ensure that the marketing spend stays clearly focused on achieving tangible outcomes.

All too often, companies measure the success of their marketing activity on the amount they did for the money they had.  The true value of marketing, however, is generating the desired response from the required audience and, while achieving that is priceless, it’s a success criteria that has much more to do with the quality of strategic thinking than the size of the marketing spend.