My prior post covered the first half on How to Create A Marketing Plan. Today, I’m covering the second half of how to create a marketing plan. Specifically, we’ll be covering using findings from the situation analysis to develop a marketing strategy that helps you reach your objectives. The last part of this series will show you how to develop an implementation plan and elements to measure to see your progress in reaching your goals.
Linking findings from the situation analysis to your strategic plan is critical. Developing plans without these insights or with incomplete or inaccurate insights means you’re missing some opportunities to make money and may even fail because what you’re doing aren’t the right things. Opportunities and threats identified in your situation analysis can be used to guide development of new marketing strategies while weaknesses uncovered in the situation analysis should be fixed to the extent possible in your strategic plan.
A strategic plan only contains elements of the 4P’s — or internal elements including Product, Price, Promotion, and Place (or Distribution). You can get a better idea of these elements from my earlier post.
Issues involved in managing existing products dictate some strategies likely to be more successful. Among these issues are (we’ll cover each of these topics in future posts):
- Product life cycle
- Product class
- Product form
- Product positioning
A major focus of managing new products is the issue of branding. A brand is like a hologram — not real in a tangible sense but clearly “visible” to consumers. Another way of looking at branding is as a personality for the product. Companies can about their brand because it is this personality, more than any other aspect of the product, that controls buying decisions. Its just like with friends, you have many with different personalities, but all have something about their personality you find attractive. When a brand appears to be “for me” I want the product and when brands are “not for me” I avoid them.
Brand image (or brand personality) comes from advertising and other promotional efforts, from where you see the brand sold and who you see using the product, and from what friends say about the product. In a world dominated by social media, increasingly it is these non-commercial communications that control brand image.
Promotions include advertising, public relations, direct marketing (email and mail marketing, plus newsletters), and sales promotions (those hats, pens, calendars … plus coupons, rebates, sponsorships, and other elements).
The internet is becoming increasingly crowded with promotions because of their reach and low cost. However many firms fail to recognize promotions in online environments, especially social spaces, are fundamentally different than traditional media because they require customer engagement.
An important element of promotional strategies is the integration required to maximize effectiveness. Hence, rather than choosing a single medium for your message, a firm must use multiple outlets in a coordinated fashion. You might use cause marketing as a basic strategy to promote your business, get fans and followers on board to support the cause by retweeting your message, liking your fanpage, or sharing your message with their social network. You reinforce the message using traditional advertising and evoke PR to tell everyone about the program and what a socially responsible company you are. You might offer premiums like t-shirts to consumers who promote your cause. Everything would be integrated using the same message, similar graphics, and the overall strategy.
Many business people think consumers want the cheapest product available, but this is often wrong. What consumers really want is value — which is the difference between price and benefit. Price also tells us lots about the product, especially when its difficult to judge the quality objectively. For instance, we assume a diamond ring that is more expensive is a better quality diamond. We figure the same about a physician or hospital — that’s part of the healthcare system that’s broken when we choose expensive physicians since we don’t pay for them ourselves.
Cialdini tells a story in his book on influence where a retailers couldn’t sell her jewelry so she DOUBLED the price and sold out — at the cheaper price it was considered junk.
Distribution is an important aspect of marketing as much of the cost of many products is tied up in distributing it to the ultimate consumer. Place also has meaning for consumers as store atmospherics provide clues about the products sold at the store. Issues such as stock-outs, merchandising, store layout … also must be considered in developing your place strategy.
One of the most interesting opportunities in place marketing right now comes from integration of social spaces and retail spaces. Foursquare and Facebook places are among those linking these two domains. QR tags and Shopkick are changing the way retailers and other service business can merge social media, geolocation, and marketing into one powerful tool.