Good afternoon and thank you for being here. Our goal today is to introduce you to the key steps in the marketing communications planning process. For some of you, you may be very familiar with this process, but for others this might all be new to you. But regardless of whether you’re a novice or a pro, I think you’ll pick up some great tips today on how to better plan for marketing success. So, let’s get started …
In today’s marketplace, there are more ways to communicate than ever before. According to a recent report, there are more than 60 ways to communicate today. This makes for a very cluttered and confusing landscape, plus it keeps changing every day.
To emphasize how cluttered the landscape is, just look at a recent study conducted by InfoTrends, a l eading worldwide market research and strategic consulting firm … They asked over 500 small/mid-sized businesses what kind of media they use to promote their business. As you can see, the list is long … So, the bad news is that there are A LOT of ways to communicate, which makes it harder for your messages to be heard …
The good news is that regardless of the media mania that exists, the goal for marketing communications remains the same. It’s about saying the right thing to the right people at the right time through the right channels to generate the action you want…always at the lowest possible cost than you could do with people. The role of marketing communications is simply to impart information to people you and your sales staff can’t go see, or who otherwise don’t know to come and see you to meet their wants and needs. In other words, we’re using impersonal means in place of personal means to achieve the same end. But in order to know when impersonal communications/channels can and should be used – we need to understand the sales cycle.
Taking you back to Marketing 101 classes that you may have taken in college, you’ll remember that certain steps must occur, in a specific order for anybody to make a sale. And this is true whether you are selling capital equipment or gum at a checkout stand. Sometimes the process takes a couple of seconds and sometimes it takes years, but this is the sequence of events that must take place before a sale can be made: A need or desire must be there. There must be awareness of you and your product or service as a potential answer to that need. People must comprehend or understand that your product or service might meet that need…and that you may be a good supplier. Next, there is an indication of interest, usually a request for more information. Often, there is a sampling or trial stage. If all goes well, and other things are in place…like your price is competitive and your support services are considered adequate, preference is gained and the sale is made Then, of course, there’s the issue of capturing repeat business and building customer loyalty. Obviously, a whole lot of communications has to happen for these steps to be completed. And you always want to use more impersonal communications at the front end of the sales cycle as shown on the chart.
Fortunately, there’s a logical and disciplined process to guide your way Let’s dive into the marketing planning process and see how communications can be used to help make a sale.
So before we can use communications to ascend those steps in the sales cycle, we have to do some work. If you boil it all down, you need to address these six essential topics: your objectives, your target market, the channels that are available and the ones that will be the most effective, what you will say or offer to elicit a response, and how you will measure success. To put it another way …
These are the questions you need to ask. This is a pretty handy checklist and if you answer these questions, you can be pretty sure you’ve put together a sensible plan that stands a good chance for success. Once you learn who you need to reach and what channels are available to reach them, this is, to a large degree, a process of elimination based on how well the channels align with the markets, how much activity is needed to accomplish the goal, how much that costs versus how much money you have to invest, and so forth. In the end, it’s all about alignment . You need to make sure your goals, target audience, messages, etc. are all aligned. So, with these questions in mind, let’s work through the steps of drafting your plan in a little more detail.
First, you have to know what your business goals or objectives are. And, it’s best when they are framed in transactional terms. Here are some examples …
For the art and framing company, the overall goal is 30% growth, which equals $450,000 for the year. However, that needs to be broken down into more “measurable” goals. So, as you can see, it boils down to 9 new customers and 18 re-orders from existing customers. In the home remodeler example, the objective is 8 new projects to bring 20% growth for the year. These business goals are important because the marketing communications goals must be aligned with the business goals.
A marketing communications goal is not the same as a business goal. For example, a marketing communications program cannot be responsible for a product or service that is priced too high or a retail store that’s in a bad location. Your communications goals should be as specific as possible, formed with numerical targets, such as a specific number of calls, sales leads, store traffic, Web visits, phone calls, or a certain number of coupon redemptions, or a certain number of requests for proposal. It’s important that your goals can be measured in an objective way. If the goal is to increase requests for estimates, how will you know if you’ve increased the number or not? Let’s look at some examples…
With all this in mind, here are a couple of appropriate goal statements to keep in mind as you go forward. You should always ask yourself the following 4 questions when creating your marketing communications goals: Is it measurable by objective means? Is it realistic after you decide what you can afford to do? (If not, try again) Is it specific? Is the goal achievable with communications? If you’re not sure how to set measurable, objective goals, the best place to start is with your past history. If you’ve done some direct mail, say, in the past and offered a price discount on your product, hopefully you know how many redemptions you honored and use that as a benchmark. Or, if you did some advertising and generated “X” number of phone calls, you can base your future objective on past performance. If you don’t have any past history to reference, we can work with you and share industry statistics and averages that will give you a starting point to work from.
The next step is market definition. This step is essential because if this isn’t done with precision, your ability to determine sound, justifiable programs can be next to impossible. Without a precise market definition you simply cannot properly evaluate the various potential channels for communications.
First you need to define markets and segments in quantities of people based on as many qualifiers as possible. These segments may be at a different level of awareness, comprehension, inquiry/trial spectrum of the sales cycle that we talked about earlier. This means that different channels and messages are likely required for these different segments. To help define the various segments, let’s look at the next slide …
Virtually every business out there has multiple targets, including customers, inactives, inquirers (which is anyone that has responded to something in the past, gave you their card at a networking meeting, etc.), prospects and influencers (people who may not directly buy your product or service, but they interact with people that do). Even amongst these categories, there are segments. For example, you might do something different for your top 20 customers compared to your top 100-200 accounts. For customers/inactives/inquirers, those are defined within your in-house database. However, prospects gets a little tricky and need to be defined with a little more clarity.
This depends on your goal, but good idea to start here and make sure you truly understand your customers. For most, the key is to find the next group just like your current accounts.
Let’s quickly revisit the steps and resources related to documenting market definitions. When dealing with B2B and institutional targets, such as nonprofits, you need to find out how many organizations there are by type of business within the geography the client covers, remembering to add in as many qualifiers as possible to really drill down into the targets they tell you are most important. Those qualifiers may include size of the companies, their location, as well as many other variables. For example, if your client is selling computer maintenance services, you may want to target companies with a certain type of computer system…or if your client sells goods or services to hospitals, they may wish to target only certain hospitals based on the number of beds or patient rooms they have…or if they sell truck parts, perhaps they want to target by fleet size, and so forth. The key is to ask as many questions as you can to really zero in on a definition that includes their best targets. Of course, once that’s done, you need to determine how many people in these locations are important. Is there just one title or function that should be contacted or are there several? In a B2B situation you will find that multiple titles or functions are often involved in a buying decision. But, the number of involved people may vary by size of business, so you may be told only the general manager would be involved in small companies, but two, three or more titles get involved when there’s a larger, more complicated organization.
Now, let’s talk about being a B2C marketer. Here are some of the ways you will define consumer markets. Some of you may not even know that we can find data based on all of these qualifiers, but we can, and we work with each of our customers to be as precise as possible and zero in on prime prospects. For example: A very broad definition, such as women aged 25-35 in Raleigh, North Carolina, may not be specific enough if you are trying to market a specific kind of business, such as a fitness center or a tennis club. You’d want to drill down more specifically into women of that age who are already members of another club or who subscribe to a fitness or tennis magazine, perhaps. Or as the example on the screen shows, a remodeling contractor doesn’t want to target all Des Moines residents, they want homeowners with home values of $200K or more since they likely have more income to spend on remodeling. They may also want to look at the age of the home as well. There are many ways you can slice and dice data, but the most important step is to understand – with precision – who the target audience is for your product or service.
The next step is coming up with specific strategies and tactics to help you reach your goals.
This stage of the process is largely about elimination. You need to identify all the communication channels you might consider and methodically eliminate those that either don’t deliver the target audience you’ve defined, provide too much waste, won’t deliver the impact you feel is needed to get the job done or are simply too expensive. In order to do that, you need to know a little bit about the various channels available.
There are lots of channels out there and while there’s no exact answer to which channel is BEST at all times, there are some guidelines. Personal sales calls are best, but also most expensive (and you’re limited as to who will see you). Next is telemarketing, which still involves a live person who can handle objections and accelerate the steps of the sales cycle. You can see the cost/performance of some of the other channels. This is based on research, but some of the data may be a little subjective so these are meant to be guidelines.
Once you know your audience and objective, this should help to define your options. Of course, your budget is going to have an impact as well. Working within those constraints, you’ll need to evaluate your media options based on the frequency you can deliver your message with the least amount of waste. This, again, is accomplished by targeting your messages to the people who want to hear them. Direct response communications can work in almost any medium. But some media are more suited to driving a measurable response. Others become less suitable when you consider their limitations as we can see here. For instance, email is a poor choice for prospecting because you can’t risk being tagged as a spammer. Search engine marketing delivers a ready audience but can be costly and time-consuming to manage. When it comes to relevant marketing, the strongest choice is direct mail. It makes highly personal messages possible and offers great flexibility for testing several different formats. Email, telemarketing, print advertising and the Web just don’t measure up in this regard.
And here’s another tool to reference as you try to answer the question of how much is enough? These frequency guidelines take into account the rate of change in typical business audiences as well as factors in duplication of readership for multiple messages to provide some help in deciding how many pro-active communications to sponsor to achieve coverage over an audience. Using some of our assumptions about readership levels you can begin to make some decisions about how much is enough to really meet the awareness and comprehension goals that must be met to drive people up the steps to a sale.
A good way to summarize is this way… Make your final decisions based on tools you can prove reach the target you’ve identified, and also provide the impact and frequency needed to meet the goals you’ve set while keeping in mind the amount of money the client can afford to invest. In most cases, the limiting factor will be the budget, so you’ll have to limit your recommendations to those items you feel are the most targeted and most impactful, then stop. Quite frankly, this makes the job much, much easier because the really sensible things will be very apparent very quickly when you follow this disciplined approach.
Always include a call to action. One of the biggest mistakes direct marketers make is not asking for what they want and instead expect the recipient to figure it out. Do you want a purchase? Confirmation of attendance? To set up a personal meeting? Then spell it out clearly, and ask for what you want! A call to action should be paired with a strong offer. Here you can see some examples. The offer can be dollars off or a free gift. In a business-to-business setting, an informational offer, like a white paper can be particularly strong. Remember to always include an expiration date to create a sense of urgency. And, whether it’s a Web address, an 800 number or a business reply card, be sure that you provide a response mechanism. The more ways you can give them to respond, the better.
You can’t know if you’ve reached your destination if you don’t read signs along the way. So, the final section in your written plan will be the one that itemizes how you will measure the activities you’ve recommended. In this section, you’ll simply want to briefly describe what will be measured, how it will be measured, and who will be responsible. Most of the time, the responsibility will lie with the client. However, if some sort of research is required by telephone, email or paper mail, you may want to volunteer for that work, too.
Know the famous quote, that half of my marketing is wasted, I just don’t know which half. That attitude doesn’t fly anymore. While it’s not an exact science, we have to go into it thinking about the outcome. The goal should always be to measure success in SOME way, so you can ride the winners, and lose the losers. Here are just some of the many ways to track and measure success.
A couple of years ago before we made the decision to invest in the people to provide marketing services, we offered the production services you see listed on the left of the slide. Today, as the result of going through this extensive training and partnering with our Marketing Resource Center, we can help you with all of the additional services shown on the right. Essentially, if you choose, we can be your single, responsible touch point to plan and execute virtually any strategy or tactic that makes sense in your marketing program. So what does this mean for you?
Strategic Marketing Planning
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DISCOVER A PROCESS TO HELPNAVIGATE THE EXPLODING MEDIA LANDSCAPE
Just How Confusing? Which of the following media types does your company use for marketing? Electronic Print Multiple Responses PermittedN = 518 Source: Capturing the Cross-Media Direct Marketing Opportunity, InfoTrends, 2010
Universal Goal of Marketing Communications Say the right thing to the right people at the right time through the right impersonal channels to generate the action you want … at lower cost than can be accomplished with personal communications.
Sales Cycle What must happen to make a sale? Retain The Sale is Business Made Preference Trial Interest Compre- hension AwarenessNeedexists IMPERSONAL IMPERSONAL/PERSONAL PERSONAL
Road Map: 6 Essentials1. Specific business goal2. Aligned marketing goal3. Precise market definition4. Channel selection5. Messaging strategy6. Measurement
Marketing Planning Process What’s the goal that communications can meet or help meet? Who’s the target? What channels could be used to reach them? What channels should be used to reach them? How much activity is enough to meet the goal? How will you measure success or failure so you can improve in the future?
SPECIFIC BUSINESS GOALWhat’s the business goal – framed intransactional terms?
Sample Objectives A local art & framing company has set a sales growth goal of 30% ($450,000.) 60% ($270,000) from new customers. The average new job is approximately $30,000. Goal is 9 new customers. 40% ($180,000) from current accounts. The average re- order from existing clients is $10,000. 18 re-orders from existing customers. A full-service home remodeler wants to grow by at least 20% during the next year, requiring a minimum of 8 additional, average projects.
ALIGNED MARKETING GOALWhat’s the business goal that marketingcommunications can meet or help meet? Direct order/donation Lead generation Customer up-sell/retention Store traffic/website traffic
Sample Objectives Generate 50 calls from homeowners with plans for major renovations. Increase website traffic by 20% during the next 3 months. Generate 75 coupon redemptions for top-of-the- line vacuum cleaner. Generate donations from at least 100 new individuals during the next month.
PRECISE MARKET/AUDIENCEDEFINITION & SEGMENTATIONWho’s the target?
Market Definition & Segmentation Define markets and market segments in quantities of people based on as many qualifiers as available How many of what kind of people should you be targeting?
Begin With In-House Data Who are your customers? Who are your best customers/members? Recency, Frequency, Monetary Value (RFM) Define customers by type of business or demographics Buyer type of psychological make-up Size of company or household By location or market type (urban metro/rural) Define customers by similar attributes
Target Market(s) Definition B2B (and Institutions) Business type (SIC and NAICS codes allow easy analysis) Business location Other qualifiers: sales, employee size, type of computer system, hospitals by bed size, schools by enrollment, number of trucks in fleet, etc. Key titles/functions: facility manager, purchasing agent, R&D managers, plant managers, maintenance managers EXAMPLES: • HR managers in firms of all types with at least 50 employees in NC & SC: estimated audience of 2,750 individuals – one per firm. • CEOs and CFOs of non-chain retailers in greater Atlanta area (2 names per location): estimated audience of 1,200 firms and 2,400 people
Target Market(s) Definition B2C EXAMPLE: Remodeling contractor in Des – By geography Moines wants to attract – Using demographics homeowners with home values • Gender or age of $200K and up – 55,000 single, detached homes; 1,700 • Marital status worth $200,000 + • Education level • Occupation or income • Family size (with/without children) • Homeowner/renter – Using psychographics (lifestyle variables) • Personal traits • Behavior patterns (e.g. golfers, fishermen, pet owners, charitable donors, campers, etc.)
STRATEGY & TACTICS SELECTIONWhat channels could and should be used toreach them?How much activity is enough to meet thegoal?
Channel Selections Identify all the channel options available Evaluate each based on strengths, weaknesses and cost Eliminate the obvious mismatches Eliminate those that: Don’t cleanly align with your target Are too expensive per use Can’t be used enough to make a difference Don’t provide the impact you need
Understand the Channels Cost/Performance of Customer Contact Options SALES CALL TELEMARKETERCOST LITERATURE DIRECT MAIL ADVERTISING POSTCARDS PUBLICITY PERFORMANCE Cost “Readership” Seller $400+/exposure 100% Shows $185/exposure 100% Telemarketer $10-20/exposure 100% Literature $5-10/exposure 100% Direct Mail $2-5/exposure 75% Advertising $1-2/exposure 25% Postcards <$1/exposure 10% Publicity <$1/exposure 25%
How Much / What Mix? Readership of Repeated Communication Exposures needed to reach 95% of an audience with communications of various readership levels Readership level per ad No. ofinsertions 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 1 20 30 40 50 60 2 36 51 64 73 84 3 49 67 78 87 94 4 59 77 87 94 5 67 84 92 6 74 89 95 7 79 92 8 83 95 9 87 10 89 11 91 12 93 13 95
Channel Selections Make final decisions based on: Recommendations that reach the target audience(s) with minimal waste Recommendations that provide the impact at the frequency you can afford to meet good practice guidelines
DELIVER THE RIGHT MESSAGEWhat should you say to incite the action youwant them to take?
Targeted Messages Match your messages to: Where your buyer is in the sales cycle The timeliness of your buyer’s need What your customer is thinking (Put yourself in your customer’s shoes) A previous response or purchase Life stage Transactional
Include a Call to Action Be clear about what you want them to do Create a sense of urgency Provide multiple response mechanisms
MEASUREMENTHow will you measure success or failure soyou can improve in the future?
Ways to Measure Web visits Store visits Coupon redemptions Attendance at events/trade shows Appointments Phone and email requests for estimate or more information Direct sales Increased awareness (requires some sort of survey technique)
Summing Up It’s all about alignment Align marketing goals with business goals Align market definitions with marketing goals Align channels with market definition / key segments Align messaging with channels / key segments Align measurement methods with marketing and business goal
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