Everyone and anyone who is a marketer wants to be a marketing success. So is there any shortcut to achieve such success? Yes there is. It is to form the perfect marketing plan. And the success of a Marketing plan depends on one word – Information. Information is the key to the success of a Marketing Plan. However the collection and usage of this information is divided into 8 different parts. The combination of these 8 steps can ensure your marketing success. So what are these 9 steps? Read on
1) Explore – Many marketing plans over years have become successful because they explored a variety of ideas and plans, not only in their own sector but also in other industries. In short, the more ideas you have in the start, the better it is for your marketing plan and more is the chance of success. You need to explore the current trends of the industry, the future expectations, government involvement, major changes, technological advancement etc. The best marketer is one who plans not only for the present but also for the future. Thus you need to first explore your surroundings to be sure of the background of the marketing plan.
2) Analyse your customers – The 2nd step is elementary. I mention the importance of customer analysis in a previous post. You may refer the same. I do emphasize that your customers are your best consultants. Instead of asking questions to others, ask questions to your own customers and you will get the best answers and the best advice possible. In fact, NOT listening to your customers is a sure shot way to achieve Marketing failure. I am sure you don’t want that.
3) Analyse your competitor – Who are your competitors and what are they doing to attract customers? You don’t want to end up as a ‘me too’ brand. At the same time you need to know which features amongst those advertised by competitors are the most prominent in customers mind. You need to target the same features from a different angle. Or if you prefer the creative way, then prepare your own angle. Both ways work. However in either case, you need to know your customers and your competitors as well as the market scenario.
4) Analyse yourself – In a business plan this step comes first. However, in case you are thinking of a marketing plan, then it comes after you have observed your customers & competitors and you have the complete data in hand. At this stage you need to decide what is your budget, how many man hours can you dedicate to this campaign, whether you have the capacity to go ATL or not or whether there is a need of price promotions. Thus your overall strategy will depend on where you stand in the market. If you are the number 1, you need to think of retention strategies, whereas if you are number 4, you need to think of customer acquisition strategies. Thus the outlook of the marketing plan changes as you analyse yourself.
5) Prepare your marketing plan – Now is the stage where you need to use your data and formulate a strategy. However just deciding on a strategy is not enough. You need to scale down the entire marketing plan and the best step over here is to hire a marketing consultant / ad agency as required. At this stage, you decide your long term as well as short term strategy. Based on the strategy you need to decide what kind of promotions you will be using and also what impact is the promotion expected to make in the market. Remember – Marketing plans are made months in advance. Thus you need to anticipate the events coming up. If you plan a Christmas ad 12 days before Christmas, its not going to work. Bottom line – Document your marketing plan. It helps in measuring the performance.
6) Implement – Well, what are you waiting for Go ahead. You are ready to implement the plan. However, don’t forget the contingency plan. Contingency plans are used when your strategy is not well received in the market. The top brands always have a contingency plan prepared. Lets take an example – Quite recently one of the leading automobile companies released an ad on their latest car model. That ad was not received well by the audience. However, the company had a second ad ready which had already been through a test run. They immediately filled these ads in the ad slots. In short, while implementing, be in touch with the market as well as people involved and anticipate any negativities as well as capitalize on any positives which develop during implementation. By doing this you are ensuring a smooth flow of the marketing plan.
7) Follow up – You have now implemented the marketing plan. But what is the reaction of your customers? Are they satisfied with it, or was it a disappointment to them? Once you have the customer feedback, you can improvise in your future plan. Follow up need not be too complicated. In fact, it should be as simple as possible. Big Bazaar’s strategy of having one day of super sale has been very well received by its customer. The result – Big bazaar repeats it again and again and satisfies its customers each time. Thus the feedback is simply seen in the increase in number of walkins.
8) Explore other opportunities – Your customers do not expect the same things again and again from you. On the contrary the more varied you keep it, the better is the response from customers. This is where telecom brands are really utilizing their marketing brains. Because of saturation, each of the telecom brand is trying to bring up a new USP which it can use in its marketing campaign. These USP’s may be as small as cricket updates or they may be as large as Free 3G. But in the end, the more the competition, the more you need to find new opportunities in the market.
These 8 steps make sure you are covering each and every aspect of your marketing plan and ensures marketing success. Each of these steps can be carried out in varied priorities. A top brand might ignore the competitor step and might have to go completely on gut instinct to retain its customers. It doesn’t need to study its competitors, rather it needs to concentrate more on its core strength. On the other hand, a brand which is 4th or 5th in its sector, might have to over analyse in each step to create a strong marketing plan which targets its TG.
In the end, we come down to the one word which started this article – Information. Planning and implementation depends solely on the information you possess and therein lies the key to Marketing success.