Success Is No Accident. It Has To Be Strategically, Methodically Planned.By: Andy Marken
Today's marketplace is still exciting, vibrant and somewhat tolerant. Every day, across the country, small groups of designers, sales people and application specialist who have great market niche ideas step forward to start the next killer company. Unfortunately, these new companies are often like roving mobs, rather than armies planning to win on the battlefield.
Two years after their formation, fewer than five out of every 100-marketplace contenders will still be around. The dazed, battle-worn founders will walk the scarred landscape wondering what went wrong. As the industry continues to grow at a rate of 15-20 percent or so per annum, the defeated wonder how and why they not only lost the skirmish but the entire war.
These people blow it because they don't have "the right stuff."
These founders assigned responsibilities and authority without considering true capabilities. Just because someone handles the checkbook at home is no reason to believe he or she can be the finance officer for the company. The best technical guru may not be the best to be VP of engineering or design. The person who had the idea may not be the best person to be president. The most outgoing individual, or the salesperson with a record of outstanding sales, is probably not the one to guide marketing and sales.
Being able to talk technically, or having a good sales sense, has nothing to do with being an outstanding marketing person. Outstanding salespeople generally think that good marketing is belly-to-belly selling. Their marketing plan is to double sales next year.
They fail to understand the total marketing concept. They believe that advertising, PR, selling and the other marketing activities are separate and independent functions.
Interrelation of Activities
There's a strong interdependence among all the parts of the marketing activity: pricing, packaging, positioning and service/support as well as advertising, selling, literature and promotion. The successful company doesn't separate advertising plans from the other parts of their marketing activities. Instead, they view each as a necessary and vital building block.
The primary purpose of the marketing plan is to make certain that all relevant facts are known so you are aware of the obstacles that have to be overcome... and the opportunities that can be exploited. Once these are identified, you can establish a realistic set of objectives and plan your actions to achieve those objectives.
The plan of action uses all of the marketing tools--advertising, selling, sales and support literature, Web site, direct mail, public relations, pricing, packaging, training, customer support and so forth.
Recently attention has been given to what is termed event-marketing activities. Unfortunately, many of our newly developed marketing professionals aren't going to know that this isn't the kind of marketing that is needed to ensure success. They don't realize that even marketing is part of an overall marketing plan and strategy. In addition, as they find out from experience, event marketing cannot be the major focus of the marketing program. It must be used judiciously and appropriately.
Marketing Plans are Battle Plans
Isolated battles don't ensure total victory.
The firms marketing plan is not an academic exercise. The very act of putting the plan on paper requires a complete knowledge of the facts so that you will have a tighter, more foolproof plan. It will assist you in sizing up and structuring your market. It will also aid you in sizing up the market's total business volume.
Then, you can take your market's breakdown of sales and compare them with the patterns of spending with other market area and industry averages.
Properly done, the marketing plan will allow you to evaluate alternative methods of meeting marketing problems and objectives. It also provides evidence upon which sound programs and ideas should be considered.
More importantly, the marketing plan produces a unified, cohesive program, which everyone in the organization can understand, use and follow. It helps you change the product mix when necessary. It shows the need for pricing changes and what portion of the market or application area you are penetrating. The marketing plan can clearly show you who the prospective buyers are, where they are located, and what appeals are most likely to affect their purchasing decisions.
Your marketing plan should be composed of six elements:
The Business of the Business
As you can see, a good marketing plan gives you a clear, comprehensive picture of the state of the business, its problems and its opportunities. It spells out the objectives that you consider essential, as well as the specific means by which they will be pursued. It gives you the opportunity to judge the soundness of the strategic and tactical approach that will be taken. It puts everyone in the organization on record with marketing and sales objectives as well as expense and profit budgets. This should be your team's commitment to deliver the performance outlined and detailed in the plan.
If the plan works--if it is right in its determination of marketing objectives, and if events prove that satisfactory progress has been made toward those objectives--then we assume it was a good plan.
Unfortunately, many people fall into a trap. They assume that just because a plan worked in '99, it's going to work in 2000 and 2001. They forget, or lose sight of the fact, that the market, its wants and its needs aren't stagnant from one quarter to the next, let alone from one year to the next.
Another problem is that too many neophyte marketeers feel that, once they have successfully completed the annual marketing plan, they are free from the drudgery for another 12 months.
There are a lot of reasons for, and benefits to, a mid-year review. The obvious reason is that it helps in developing the next year's plan.
More importantly, it helps realign and modify the present year's program, when necessary.
Granted, reevaluation requires a little time and effort, but only a total fool follows a battle plan that isn't working.
And business is war.
Each of us had better be fighting to win.
© Copyright 1999, G.A.Marken, Marken Communications
The author assumes full responsibility for the contents of this article and retains all of its property rights. MarcommWise publishes it here with the permission of the author. MarcomWise assumes no responsibility for the article's contents.