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Understanding Strategic Planning: What would you ask?

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So lets say you wish to amp up your understanding on strategic planning. Now imagine you could ask a fellow Planner anything - what would you ask? The above is a compilation of 4 questions - from one Planner to another.

But it's but ONE way of answering those questions. How would you have answered differently?

Be it an alternative answer, or a new question, feel free to drop a comment below (or start your own Q&A) and see what kind of conversation ensues.

Published in: Marketing
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Understanding Strategic Planning: What would you ask?

  1. 1. By Alex Goh, Associate Strategic Planning Director, M&C Saatchi, Kuala Lumpur
  2. 2. You’ve been briefed to come up with a communications plan for a Outline the steps you would take from that briefing to response and what the final output might include. “ ” new product launch. UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1 Image credit: http://media.npr.org/assets/img/2013/02/26/grocerygirl_wide-2a46dd8052c534f1dc04f3fbdb65647ff28e2210.jpg
  3. 3. (Most likely a) BRAND EXTENSION The focus here is on leveraging the existing equity of the current brand name. A thorough understanding and assessment of the brand equity is thus crucial. (Most likely a) LINE/PRODUCT EXTENSION Thus, we are probably looking at getting existing customers to buy more, or to attract new customer segments. A thorough understanding and assessment of the existing/new customer segments is crucial. MARKET PIONEER Interested in being the first-mover, a thorough understanding across category, competitve, consumer and brand is crucial. A key factor to consider is whether the category we’re looking at involves high vs. low involvement decision making, and whether the category presents low vs. high barriers to entry. NEW MARKET ENTRANT The idea here is likely to be focused on getting a slice of the action (or increasing group market share) by taking advantage of an unmet need or an attempt to translate market leadership elsewhere into the new market (superior product or strong resources). A thorough understanding of the category dynamics is crucial. ALEX GOH EXISTING BRAND NEW BRAND EXISTINGCATEGORYNEWCATEGORY The development of all communication plans will require delving into category, consumer, competitor and brand dynamics. As the scope of coverage is rather extensive (and time always a luxury), by first identifying the nature of the product launch (with the simple 2X2 matrix below), it will help define a focus area to dedicate our efforts into. By first identifying the nature of the product launch, it will help define a focus area to dedicate our efforts into.   UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1
  4. 4. The development of all communication plans will require delving into category, consumer, competitor and brand dynamics. As the scope of coverage is rather extensive (and time always a luxury), by first identifying the nature of the product launch (with the simple 2X2 matrix below), it will help define a focus area to dedicate our efforts into. (Most likely a) BRAND EXTENSION The focus here is on leveraging the existing equity of the current brand name. A thorough understanding and assessment of the brand equity is thus crucial. (Most likely a) LINE/PRODUCT EXTENSION Thus, we are probably looking at getting existing customers to buy more, or to attract new customer segments. A thorough understanding and assessment of the existing/new customer segments is crucial. MARKET PIONEER Interested in being the first-mover, a thorough understanding across category, competitve, consumer and brand is crucial. A key factor to consider is whether the category we’re looking at involves high vs. low involvement decision making, and whether the category presents low vs. high barriers to entry. NEW MARKET ENTRANT The idea here is likely to be focused on getting a slice of the action (or increasing group market share) by taking advantage of an unmet need or an attempt to translate market leadership elsewhere into the new market (superior product or strong resources). A thorough understanding of the category dynamics is crucial. ALEX GOH By first identifying the nature of the product launch, it will help define a focus area to dedicate our efforts into.   EXISTING BRAND NEW BRAND EXISTINGCATEGORYNEWCATEGORY Assuming the most typical scenario… UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1
  5. 5. INVOLVEMENT: Project leader/Planner or delegated across Brand Management and Planning. OBJECTIVE: To collate all applicable info resources and initiate setup work for keystone research pieces, with a focus on developing a consumer segmentation model. DELIVERABLES: Key findings across category, competitor, consumer, and brand Keystone research: Agency analysis of proprietary info – best practices and access to thought leaders across the network, Agency consumer and/or expert research. Secondary analysis: Analysis of all available and applicable secondary resources – e.g. trend and category reports, analyst reports, ad banks, client proprietary consumer research, etc ALEX GOH 1. DISCOVER   2. DEFINE   3. DEVELOP   Client review and approval   4. DELIVER   5. DIAGNOSE   As with any and all processes, this flow is merely a starting point. Adaptations to each unique situation will likely have to be made, subject to available time, resources and expectations. The focus for Stage 1: Discover is: •  To identify, collate and bank-up all available resources and information •  To q u i c k l y d e t e r m i n e t h e informational needs that are also the most time consuming (e.g. research setup; Agency network reach-out) and get this activated first. To quickly determine the informational needs that are also t h e m o s t t i m e consuming, and get this activated first.   UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1
  6. 6. ALEX GOH The focus for Stage 2: Define is: •  To capture immediate team impressions (individual-by-individual) before the potential for groupthink sets in. •  With preliminary findings from Stage 1: Discover, to discuss and align on possible communication territories to explore with the team. Early alignment (aka “buy-in”) is crucial here especially when time is a constraint and multiple initiatives needs to happen in parallel. •  To strive to be as “inspiring” as possible – to ask oneself: “What is the smartest bit of thinking, I can share?” Getting the right spark going here can make a big difference to the end outcome. INVOLVEMENT: Project leader and Planner (with Creative consult). OBJECTIVE: To develop a meaningful “challenge” for the creative team to undertake. DELIVERABLES: •  (If applicable) New product orientation – gets the project team started to think about the task •  “The Brief” – with a clear communications challenge, a desired consumer outcome to heighten prospect of sales conversion and the product proposition (key message) behind the consumer idea. •  “The proposition”: Made relevant to the identified consumer segment opportunity identified in Stage 1: Discover [OPTIONAL] A Creative briefing experience can be developed to best bring-to-life the proposition (e.g. if it’s something to do with “acceleration”, a trip to the theme park for a roller-coaster ride may be a good jump-starter) Client review and approval   To ask oneself: “What is the smartest bit of thinking, I can share?”   1. DISCOVER   2. DEFINE   3. DEVELOP   4. DELIVER   5. DIAGNOSE   UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1
  7. 7. ALEX GOH The focus for Stage 3: Develop is: •  To define and jointly develop a “Big idea” – a communications platform with the ideation potential to be brought to life in multiple ways - leveraging multiple senses and multiple channels. •  Starting point: “Big ideas” tend to be centred around brand beliefs and/or taking a point-of-view on an issue of consumer interest. •  To evaluate “Big ideas” against its potential to: (i) offer something of value to the target consumers, (ii) be participative and (iii) be an open p l a t f o r m f o r p a r t n e r s h i p s / collaborations. INVOLVEMENT: Creative (with Brand Management and Planning consult); partner agencies (Media, Digital, Activation, PR, etc); other potential collaborators OBJECTIVE: To develop the overall creative concept that becomes the basis for a total launch communications plan DELIVERABLES: Concept communication plan featuring a “Big” campaign idea and integrated manifestations across relevant Paid, Earned and Owned channels. Where applicable, other potential brand partnerships/collaborations can also be explored at this stage. DISCOVER   DEFINE   DEVELOP   Client review and approval   DELIVER   DIAGNOSE   “Big” ideas tend to be centred around brand beliefs and/or taking a point-of-view on an issue of consumer interest. UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1
  8. 8. ALEX GOH The focus for Stage 4: Deliver is: •  Following client review and approval, to bring to life the approved communications plan, on-brief, on time and on budget. INVOLVEMENT: Brand Management, Creative (with Planning consult), relevant production and media partners, client team, brand partners/collaborators (if applicable) OBJECTIVE: To bring to life the approved communications plan, on-brief, on time and on budget. DELIVERABLES: Moving from concept to production – delivering the envisioned brand experience to the target consumer, across pre-defined channels. [OPTIONAL] Subject to availability of real-time campaign analytics (or in response to immediate consumer response), on-the-fly tweaks to campaign messaging/execution may be necessary and/or worth exploring. DISCOVER   DEFINE   DEVELOP   Client review and approval   DELIVER   DIAGNOSE   On-brief, on time and on budget. UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1
  9. 9. ALEX GOH The focus for Stage 5: Diagnose is: •  To develop a feedback loop to ensure continuous learning. •  Post-campaign learning can involve revisiting the campaign development process, comparing the execution plan vs. outcome, and obtaining direct consumer feedback/response to the campaign. •  Scale of “diagnosis” can be tailored according to campaign size and a v a i l a b l e r e s o u r c e s ( s e e “Deliverables”) – the goal here is to ensure at least some post-campaign reflection is initiated. INVOLVEMENT: Most effective if it’s a Client-led evaluation; with Brand Management and Planning consult for tracking setup and analysis. OBJECTIVE: To glean learnings, post- campaign, for general team learnings, future implementation and/or campaign evolutions. DELIVERABLES: Can be as advanced as a quantitatively-driven campaign performance dashboard (brand and business) or involving a simple stakeholder campaign evaluation template complemented by a consumer dipstick and digital metrics, to measure against campaign objectives. DISCOVER   DEFINE   DEVELOP   Client review and approval   DELIVER   DIAGNOSE   The goal here is to ensure at least some p o s t - c a m p a i g n reflection is in place. UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 1
  10. 10. ALEX GOH You’ve been appointed the primary brand consultant for a major international finance institution that would like to penetrate the local Malaysian market with a 1.  What would you advise it to do? 2.  How would you segment and target a specific audience? 3.  What would your brand strategy focus on? 4.  What would be your single-minded proposition? 5.  How would you create an impact in a saturated market with many established players? new banking brand. “ ”Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/ampamuka/ UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 2
  11. 11. ALEX GOH Our starting point matters – and starting from an end outcome is a good one. So, lets start with a hypothesis of an opportunity area to create impact and work our way upwards (through the questions). Our efforts to confirm or debunk the hypothesis will ultimately edge us closer to the eventual, final destination. Starting from the end. UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 2
  12. 12. The responses above assumes: •  Time-to-market of approx. 6 months •  “New banking brand” to be introduced does not currently exists in any other international markets. •  As a major international finance institution, there will be existing, pre-defined parent brand guidelines for the new banking brand to reflect. When the category dynamics changes, new opportunities arise Saturated markets, with many established players inadvertently result in one thing: consolidation – a trend we are starting to see take shape in the Malaysian banking scene. Consolidation results in outcomes that can be converted into opportunities for a new banking brand. Impact comes from exerting the most force in the smallest area Considering the nature of personal and business finance, there’s bound to be customer inertia when looking to trigger a switch. So start small and start strong. As the banking industry consolidates further, the gap between the biggest and smallest player widens. As the bigger players gets bigger, it will start to raise the appeal of smaller banks. And a new banking brand will be exactly that – small in size (at least, initially). ALEX GOH 5. How would you create an impact in a saturated market with many established players? 4. What would be your single- minded proposition? 3. What would your brand strategy focus on? 2. How would you segment and target a specific audience? 1. What would you advise it to do? UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 2
  13. 13. The responses above assumes: •  Time-to-market of approx. 6 months •  “New banking brand” to be introduced does not currently exists in any other international markets. •  As a major international finance institution, there will be existing, pre-defined parent brand guidelines for the new banking brand to reflect. Turn a weakness, into a strength The appeal of “small banks” isn’t about its size per se. Small is fast. Small is personal. Small is unique (think: Apple circa 1998-2000). Proposition by taking a position To sum this up – “small” has a better chance of standing for “Quality”; something that tends to suffer as banks consolidate and therein, our opportunity. To note: The above is merely a defined consumer territory to explore further at depth. Consumer research will come in handy here to deep dive and aid in the process of defining what “quality banking” means to people. ALEX GOH 5. How would you create an impact in a saturated market with many established players? 4. What would be your single- minded proposition? 3. What would your brand strategy focus on? 2. How would you segment and target a specific audience? 1. What would you advise it to do? UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 2
  14. 14. The responses above assumes: •  Time-to-market of approx. 6 months •  “New banking brand” to be introduced does not currently exists in any other international markets. •  As a major international finance institution, there will be existing, pre-defined parent brand guidelines for the new banking brand to reflect. Every opportunity has its challenges The brand strategy will be focused on resolving the following branding challenge: being part of a major international finance institution, the parent brand itself will be big. How then can a BIG bank, also act small? Going beyond brand-as-identity: Above and beyond developing communications that lives up to this mantra, more importantly, we will require establishing a working process with the client’s cross-functional teams to ideate means of “acting small” across every single brand touchpoint – Product, Customer Service, HR, Sales, etc. External success comes from internal clarity To incentivise cross-departmental efforts towards being “on- brand”, shared accountability is key - a single organisation- wide tracking dashboard should be proposed. Essentially, it’s a Total Customer Journey Map that measures the brand’s performance – across criteria that defines “quality banking”, measured across all of the brand’s major touchpoints. ALEX GOH 5. How would you create an impact in a saturated market with many established players? 4. What would be your single- minded proposition? 3. What would your brand strategy focus on? 2. How would you segment and target a specific audience? 1. What would you advise it to do? UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 2
  15. 15. The responses above assumes: •  Time-to-market of approx. 6 months •  “New banking brand” to be introduced does not currently exists in any other international markets. •  As a major international finance institution, there will be existing, pre-defined parent brand guidelines for the new banking brand to reflect. Are people looking for another bank? For most, it’s likely “No.” Be it personal or business banking, the brand-customer relationship is likely to be typified as being low involvement and low motivation (think public utilities and petrol choice). Consequently, most interactions between brand and customer could be described as “transactional.” In such relationships, customer inertia (to switch) would be high making a non-targeted/blanket approach expensive and ineffective. Banking on customer pain Thus, any segmentation approach should focus, NOT on segmenting the universe of bankable customers, but reaching out and segmenting the small group of dissatisfied banking customers – the group most likely to switch in the short- to medium-term. Consequently, our targeting approach is less about channels but about the right messaging - by appealing to address popular customer pain points with current banks, the target audience most likely to switch would naturally be most sensitive to our brand and product messaging. ALEX GOH 5. How would you create an impact in a saturated market with many established players? 4. What would be your single- minded proposition? 3. What would your brand strategy focus on? 2. How would you segment and target a specific audience? 1. What would you advise it to do? UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 2
  16. 16. The responses above assumes: •  Time-to-market of approx. 6 months •  “New banking brand” to be introduced does not currently exists in any other international markets. •  As a major international finance institution, there will be existing, pre-defined parent brand guidelines for the new banking brand to reflect. Start with what we do know We’ll start by extensively mapping out existing informational resources (both Agency and Client) – creating a “knowledge bank” of Known Knowns. This will cover: •  Market: Global and local trends •  Product: “New bank” product story •  Consumer: Factors driving smiles and frowns •  Competitor: Brand perceptions and product offering •  Client: Stakeholder inclinations (if any) Identify and acquire Known Unknowns The above will aid us in identifying what the informational gaps are in defining the existing brand landscape and market positioning opportunities available. Solutions then to be sought to fill those informational gaps (customised vs. off-the-shelf insights; expert vs. consumer interviews) Analysis into the merged knowledge banks (known knowns and known unknowns) should provide a holistic view and allow for the Agency and Client team to jointly map out the territories available, competitive density for each territory and where our new banking brand has the best chance to make a valuable difference. ALEX GOH 5. How would you create an impact in a saturated market with many established players? 4. What would be your single- minded proposition? 3. What would your brand strategy focus on? 2. How would you segment and target a specific audience? 1. What would you advise it to do? UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 2
  17. 17. “ ” Highlight a recent communications campaign that in your opinion has been highly effective and proven to change consumer behaviour. List reasons why you deem it effective and what the possible consumer insight might have been. recent communications campaign ALEX GOH Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/je4vo1/ UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 3
  18. 18. ALEX GOH Why was it effective? •  Self-advertising idea: With the intent to promote its limited edition designer collection, it developed an idea that literally advertised itself (generating massive free publicity) and was in tune with how its new generation of shoppers (to whom a designer collection is most likely to appeal to) are shopping for the home. •  Provided an utility to the customer: IKEA manages to create a digital version of its popular catalogue with zero production budget. On top of that, the digital version actually does come across as an enhanced version of the catalogue, through the featuring of customer ideas, as inspiration. •  Drove brand engagement: Got Instagram followers to enhance the value of the “website” – by getting followers to tag how they’ve used the IKEA items (value in “showing off”), IKEA is able to also offer a stream of user-generated interior design ideas for other followers on how they can use the IKEA items in their homes or offices (value through “inspiration”), thus increasing the appeal of the products. Possible consumer insights •  Product meets People: Was inspired by and aligned to the broader positioning platform of “Always on the move”- a theme set to capture the modularity of its products and the physical and mental mobility of its target audience. Consequently, use of a mobile platform was a natural fit. •  Relevance to the buying process: Evolves with how its target audience is shopping for home products – through searching for inspiration via visual boards like Instagram and Pinterest. •  Designed for Instagram: When it comes to “visual boards” like Instagram, effective channel use means aligning the idea strongly to the channel’s core benefit to its users: self-promotion and self-improvement. IKEA’s “Instagram website” idea manages to achieve both. Example of an effective and behaviour-changing comms campaign IKEA PS 2014 Instagram Website (see: http://goo.gl/vaHu8Q) UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 3
  19. 19. ALEX GOH What is your favourite brand? Why is it so? What brand building / communications principles can you learn from this brand?“ ” favorite brand UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 4
  20. 20. Why is it so? •  Self-disruptive: For its ability to see ahead, to get out of its comfort zone and disrupt its own business – evolving from a successful DVD-by-mail business to being a full-fledged digital TV entertainment company •  For challenging what’s possible: For when the cost of home broadband are in the double-digits and a constant stream of cable/satellite entertainment could be in the triple digits, Netflix keeps its subscription cost within the single-digit whilst still sustaining a massive content library and the development of exclusive content (e.g. “House of Cards”; “Orange is the New Black”) •  For challenging norms: For managing to use scale so that “affordable” doesn’t translate into “average” – its original content being nominated for 31 Emmy awards in 2014 •  Greatness inside: Netflix uploaded what is probably SlideShare’s most viewed (viral?) PowerPoint deck on the “Netflix Culture” which details its HR practices that created the environment that accounts for its success. The quality of its content speaks for itself – whilst it’s longer than it needs to be (126 slides) and features a generous use of bullet points, it has garnered almost 9 million views. What is your favourite brand? What brand building / communications principles can you learn from this brand? •  FOCUS: The importance of focus – do one (or a few) things excellently, rather than many things averagely. Because almost always, excellent execution with a mediocre strategy wins out against an excellent strategy with mediocre execution. •  VALUE: In such a cluttered world - with thousands of communication stimulus vying for our attention – to stand out, one will have to focus on evolving from developing just an advertising idea, to an idea worth advertising. Strive to deliver a fair exchange for people’s time and attention. •  PEOPLE: The investment into the brand starts and ends with the investment into “People” - getting ones “house in order”, and thus the importance of internal culture communications is probably one of the most under-leveraged areas of differentiation for any brand. ALEX GOH UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 4
  21. 21. What is your favourite brand? Why is it so? What brand building / communications principles can you learn from this brand? •  FOCUS: The importance of focus – do one (or a few) things excellently, rather than many things averagely. Because almost always, excellent execution with a mediocre strategy wins out against an excellent strategy with mediocre execution. •  VALUE: In such a cluttered world - with thousands of communication stimulus vying for our attention – to stand out, one will have to focus on evolving from developing just an advertising idea, to an idea worth advertising. Strive to deliver a fair exchange for people’s time and attention. •  PEOPLE: The investment into the brand starts and ends with the investment into “People” - getting ones “house in order”, and thus the importance of internal culture communications is probably one of the most under-leveraged areas of differentiation for any brand. See trailer: “House of Cards” http://goo.gl/9CDqI See trailer: “Orange is the New Black” http://goo.gl/WYge9 See: “Netflix Culture” on SlideShare http://goo.gl/Bb4vfo ALEX GOH UNDERSTANDING STRATEGIC PLANNING: Question 4
  22. 22. By Alex Goh, Associate Strategic Planning Director, M&C Saatchi, Kuala Lumpur

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