MARKETING MATTERS

We like to share our thoughts on matters relating to the integrated marketing services we offer – including marketing strategy, corporate branding, marketing communications, website design and development, digital marketing (search engine optimisation, digital advertising, social media marketing, content marketing, email marketing and marketing automation), and non-digital marketing (advertising, direct marketing, sales promotion, event marketing, public relations and corporate incentives).

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Marketing Planning

by Steve Brown on January 18, 2019

Take your business to the next level in 2019 with a fab new marketing plan

New year, new plan. It’s the ideal time to use insights and learnings gleaned from last year’s sales and marketing activities to redefine your marketing planning for the year ahead. The first step in the process is to ensure that your business plan is still pointing in the right direction in order to achieve your corporate goals. The marketing plan then creates a clear framework upon which the overall marketing strategy is built – which means you then have all the basics in place for developing media-specific strategies for all your activities, campaigns and tactics.

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Define and set out your goals

Marketing efforts need to address and reflect the goals laid out in your business plan. You may want to expand into new territory, launch a new product, open a new showroom, or simply increase sales from existing customers – so the million dollar question is, what does your marketing plan need to look like to support that ambition and make it a reality? Now that you’re clear on what the business needs to achieve, you need to define your marketing goals so that you can track progress and performance on an ongoing basis. Make sure these goals are measurable. SMART is an acronym you might be familiar with when it comes to goal setting – it stands for “Specific. Measurable. Achievable. Relevant. Timely”. Do your goals meet these five criteria?

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Understand the landscape you’re operating in

This is the perfect opportunity to map out a simple SWOT analysis to make sure you know where you sit in your marketplace, and to identify the problems and challenges you’re going to face this year. So, what are the “Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats” to consider in your planning? Remember, strengths and weaknesses refer to characteristics that exist within your business – the in-house skill set, for example. Opportunities and threats refer to external factors, such as supplier issues or new competitors entering the marketplace. A SWOT analysis doesn’t need to be an arduous exercise; a quick status check on the landscape both inside and outside of your business will pay rich dividends. Check again in three or six months time to see if anything has changed.

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Review your brand proposition and check out the competition

Taking what you have learnt from your SWOT analysis, ask yourself the question – how does your brand proposition stand up to close analysis? The brand strategy needs to clearly identify what you do, who you are, and how you are different from the competition. If you are a specialist in your field, or are defined by offering great value (in terms of price, quality and/or service), or are synonymous with luxury and decadence, is this immediately obvious when a consumer comes into contact with your brand? Is this clear at every stage during the sales journey from prospect to the customer – and then on to repeat purchaser and loyal ambassador? As we begin a new year, this is the perfect opportunity to ask yourself whether your brand proposition is up to date, representative of your organisation’s personality and character and that it is applied consistently across all your materials. If you’re not sure what to do, take a look at other brands you admire – they don’t need to be operating in the same marketplace. It should be clear from their sales materials and marketing collateral what the essence of their brand is, and how they differentiate themselves from other brands operating in the same marketplace. Think about how they have achieved this clarity. Perhaps you can emulate their approach…

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Take a close look at your products and services

You then need to ask yourself if the core messaging around your products or services reflects and reinforces the overall brand proposition. How does the positioning of your products or services set you apart from the competition? Do your marketing plans for the year ahead need to focus more on selling one product or service, rather than all equally Fundamentally, do you feel confident in the way in which you are selling your current range of products and services – if not, why not? Maybe the messaging or visual identity doesn’t feel right, or the pricing needs a review, or you need more stockists on board. Is one of your competitors offering a better value proposition? If you feel you need to review how you market your products and services to customers, make sure this is stated in the marketing plan.

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Who are your customers and how are you going to reach them?

Having taken the time to look at your brand proposition, your product range and your competitors, it is now time to take a closer look at your customer base. Are you clear about who your customers are, and where to find the prospects you want to target? One method and style of communication won’t usually work for every customer – do you need to review their demographic and psychographic profiles? Create personas and segments for your customer groups to gain focus and clarity on who you are targeting, and you can then identify the best means of doing so. For instance, Instagram is a great social media tool for a B2C Gen Z audience, but LinkedIn is possibly a better option for communicating with senior business people. Maybe an exhibition is the best way to introduce potential customers to your organisation…

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Get your CRM shipshape to minimise churn and increase customer lifetime value

Within your existing customer base, identify frequent or big spenders and consider what can be done to grow sales and develop loyalty. This relates to your customer relationship management (CRM) strategy. Are you using all the tools at your disposal to track and analyse interactions with customers? This can be an efficient way to make improvements and adjustments in your CRM, perhaps via an email marketing campaign using marketing automation software – resulting in lower churn and more sales on one side of the sales funnel, and increasing average customer lifetime value on the other.

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Optimise your sales pipeline via the bowtie marketing concept

Bowtie marketing is a concept we’ve created at Abacus to optimise the performance of your sales pipeline and then to increase customer lifetime value after a customer has made the first purchase. Essentially, it takes the traditional sales funnel marketing model and turns it on its side. Then, a second funnel is added, as a mirror to the existing one, to represent the lifetime value of customers. The bottom of the sales funnel is the ‘knot’ in the bowtie marketing and is the point at which a prospect makes their first purchase. In other words, a customer can have much greater value to your business if you nurture a relationship with them after their first purchase. Remember, it is cheaper to keep an existing client happy than to find a new one.

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Invest in the right lead generation activities

Apart from growing sales from existing customers, what is your plan to attract new ones? Are you revisiting tried and tested methods, or trialling new activity this year? Lead generation activities are essential if you wish to keep your sales pipeline filling up with opportunities throughout the year. There are many media to consider, split into digital marketing and non-digital marketing. Digital marketing includes search engine optimisation (SEO), paid advertising on search engines and social media channels, social media marketing, content marketing and email marketing. Non-digital marketing includes event marketing, advertising, direct marketing and sales promotion. Choosing the right mix of digital and non-digital marketing media for your business – and deploying a successful strategy for each one – is only possible if you have a solid marketing plan in place, one that is built on a full understanding of the overall business proposition.

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Update your marketing communications

This is also a good time to review your marketing communications. Are you clear who your stakeholders are? As well as customers, stakeholders can be shareholders, the general public, corporate partners, core suppliers and – last but by no means least – your staff. From a sales and marketing perspective, the most important stakeholders are your customers. Review their journey as they progress along the sales pipeline and consider the role different stakeholders play during this process – the most likely touchpoints are going to be with your employees and your systems. Are you happy that the customer experience is likely to be a good one from start to finish, or are there any weak spots that spring to mind? Every time a potential customer comes into contact with your brand, be that with an employee or a process, it is important that your brand proposition is clear to them, and that the experience of dealing with your company consistently meets or exceeds expectations. Problems do arise inevitably, we all know that. But, remember, a one-off delivery issue or a poor customer review doesn’t always damage your brand. It’s how you respond to a problem that alters brand perception, either positively or negatively.

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Short-term tactical campaigns and long-term strategic activities

A strong marketing plan targets prospects at all the most important stages during the sales cycle from the first contact to first purchase. The tactics you deploy will depend on whether you are trying to engage with new customers to talk or existing ones. Most of your advertising, direct marketing and PR activities raise awareness amongst potential customers. Whereas existing customers will respond better to more personalised marketing tactics, such as tailored email marketing campaigns and customised loyalty programmes. Be clear about the difference between tactical campaigns and strategic activities. For example, a Facebook advertising campaign is tactical because it is short term and easy to change direction, but SEO is strategic because it meets long term goals to generate sales and increase brand equity. Both are delivering core goals but in different ways. A quick word about new marketing innovations. When you’re starting to think about the tactics and strategies you wish to use to deliver the goals set out in your marketing plan, it is important that you have an awareness of current trends, which are invariably led by technological advancements – however, be careful in this regard. Our advice is not to be sidetracked by every new thing, as it is easy to become overwhelmed by all the options that are potentially open to you. This can lead to corporate paralysis and organisational inertia. Not every new technology or platform is going to be relevant to your business nor deliver that much advantage. Get the basics right and try not to take on too much at any one time, and you will be even more likely to achieve your goals. Remember, a strategy is the best use of scarce resources, which means you can’t to everything…

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Crunching the numbers

Scare resources primarily refer to time and money – so, do you have the people and the skills in house to deliver everything internally, or do you need to engage a top London marketing agency to help you? What do you need to build, to create, to buy? If you’re over-budget, our advice is to do one or two things well, rather than half a dozen things badly. Make sure you prioritise as well as possible so that you get the basics in place first. If you don’t have the right platforms in place, then a lead generation campaign will not be as effective.

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Delivering your marketing plan

You can create a marketing plan in-house if you have the time and skills, or you can ask a London marketing agency like Abacus to help. We offer an integrated approach to marketing, which means we can provide you with a one-stop shop for all your marketing needs. We do this for lots of start-up enterprises and SMEs located in and around the London area. We offer a two-hour chemistry meeting at a venue of your choice, which doubles up as a free marketing consultation. So, if you’re keen to get things going with regards to your marketing plans for 2019,  why not book in a marketing planning session with us to kick things off..?

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Get in touch

Please contact Stephen Brown, our head of client services, on 020 3858 7836 or by email at [email protected] to arrange a meeting with Abacus Marketing Agency London – you can also find out more about what we do and who we are by visiting our website at www.abacusmarketing.co.uk. We look forward to hearing from you!

Steve BrownMarketing Planning

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