SIX STEP PLANNING

OUR SIX-STEP PLANNING PROCESS IS INHERENT IN EVERYTHING WE DO

Our process delivers a strong foundation for our work because it offers a flexible framework that we are able to execute in a way that is most appropriate to the bespoke needs of individual clients. The amount of time required for each activity is determined by many factors. These factors can include the financial objectives a client is seeking to achieve, the complexity of the marketplace in which they operate, the position from where they are starting, the sophistication of competitor activities, the demographics of the customer base, the internal sales pipeline processes they have in place, and so on.

1. BRIEFING

The first stage in the process is all about gathering information to better understand the challenges that our client is facing.

We prefer to do this via a face-to-face briefing session, where it is possible to do so, but conference calls suffice for national and international clients. The aim is to get a clearer idea of where the client has come from, where they are now, and where they want to go. We find out everything we need to know about their business, in terms of its customers, competitors, and products and services. Ideally, we will have access to business plans, sales forecasts and any other relevant documentation and support materials. We identify the stakeholders involved in the decision-making process and get a clearer idea on budgets and timescales. Finally, we identify any other relevant details that are specific to the client’s needs and requirements.

2. RESEARCH

The second stage in the process is research. We read and analyse any documents we have been given, including business plans, sales forecasts, sales materials and marketing collateral.

We take a close look at the marketplace and the companies that operate within it – this might include purchasing industry-specific research reports too. We look at competitor websites to get a better understanding of their digital marketing strategies, and we pose as customers to better understand competitor pre-purchase sales pipeline processes. We interview our client’s stakeholders – such as owners, directors, board members, managers, staff, partners, associates and suppliers. We look closely at customers too. This may involve direct contact in terms of one-to-one conversations, focus groups and online questionnaires, to get a clearer idea of audience demographics and psychographics to assist with customer segmentation and target market profiling. We seek to understand the rational and emotional drivers behind purchasing behaviour patterns too.

3. INSIGHT

Insights don’t just happen. They are a consequence of skill, hard work and persistence, and we find that they happen naturally as a consequence of our six-step planning process.

Although we explain this process as being a series of steps we follow in linear fashion, the reality is that the process is far more dynamic than we imply. We might generate insights during an initial client briefing, or whilst talking to stakeholders, or when researching competitors or analysing customers. We continue to develop insights whilst setting up and delivering solutions too on an ongoing basis. As a more formal part of the insight process, we hold facilitated workshops and internal brainstorms to create an environment where insights are more likely to reveal themselves. We need to be patient and trust in the process of insight generation – in time, insight will always reveal themselves, if the right actions have been taken and the right processes put in place to ensure that they do.

4. SOLUTION

It’s all very well having a great briefing session, followed by intense research and a successful insight generation process.

But if you cannot take that knowledge and turn it into an effective solution, then it is of practically no use at all. This ability to create high quality solutions is born out of years of experience and knowledge working within the world of marketing. It is about knowing what works well – and what doesn’t – for a range of client-specific factors. We all know the possible options available, so the first task is to decide which ones are most likely to deliver the goods. But it does not stop there. There are a whole host of additional considerations to weigh up. Subtle nuances that can make the difference between success and failure. This ability to identify the best strategies for an individual client is almost intuitive and yet, at its heart, it is defined by rational and logical reasoning.

5. DELIVERY

Delivery is perhaps the most underestimated stage in the process.

We believe that non-optimal project management can make all the difference between success and failure, and that the quality of delivery is likely to have a significant impact on the efficacy of a solution. That is why the same Abacus person is responsible for overseeing every step in the process – by overseeing, we mean a genuine hands-on approach to project management. It is only by getting your hands dirty that effective execution can be achieved. It is during the delivery process that issues might arise with regards to finetuning the solution. The ability to see these issues and the desire to overcome them is inherent to our DNA, and that is why we never entrust delivery to a junior member of the team. Project management is only ever delivered by an experienced account director with the skills and knowhow required to deliver project management effectively.

6. EVOLUTION

It is somewhat naïve to believe that the first five steps in this process will deliver a solution that will guarantee unequivocal success.

We know from previous experience that we must continue to search for ways to improve the solutions we are delivering for clients on an ongoing basis. We see our six-step planning process as existing within a continuum, rather than being a one-off event. That is why this last step in the process is so important to the efficacy of our work. We follow an ongoing process of improvement through measurement, analysis, assessment and recommendation, to ensure that performance always remain optimised. Only by doing so are we able to deliver the best possible solutions for our clients. We recognise that we do not operate in a vacuum and that external market forces are always at work. We work in close collaboration with clients as we believe that partnership delivers the best possible solutions.

Please email us at marketing@abacusmarketing.co.uk or call us on 020 7795 8175 for an initial discussion, to get an idea of costs, or to arrange a meeting.

If you would like us to send you a digital copy of our portfolio to give you a better idea of the work we have delivered for other clients, please email portfolio@abacusmarketing.co.uk.

BGL CommunicationsSIX STEP PLANNING