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Financial planning, Investment and Self Managed Super Fund Article
Marketing Activity Planning
By Matt Fogarty
1st October 2006
This article may be out of date.
The concept of a documented, coordinated marketing plan for many small businesses is considered a nice-to-have; something we know we should have in place, but in reality, we make it up on the fly.
Marketing plans are often considered too difficult because we:
- never have enough time
- don’t know where to start
- don’t see the value
- don’t have the skills or confidence to make it happen.
As a result, marketing activity is often a string of reactive, ad hoc events that don’t fit into an overall strategic plan. The results are often less than could have been achieved with just a little planning.
A marketing plan for many small businesses can be a relatively simple document, even a mere calendar of events that the entire team is aware of.
As long as you know what the business is aiming for and the overall strategies that are being undertaken, the marketing plan can simply be a list of coordinated activities that fit in with these business goals.
Textbook theory describes the science of marketing as the matching of an organisation’s resources and capabilities with the wants and needs of clients in order to achieve client satisfaction and a business return.
Marketing is a powerful tool for achieving business and financial objectives. For example, if the stated business objective is to increase income by 40% for the year, the resulting strategy may be the development of three strong strategic alliance relationships to help drive low cost client acquisition.
Focus on activity planning
For SMEs struggling to document a detailed plan, a better option is to focus on scheduling the actions and tactics you will follow throughout the year, with consideration given to costs.
Marketing Activity Planning is the process of assessing possible marketing activities and then
deciding which will provide the best return for your business in the markets you are targeting (ideal prospect markets).
Scheduling these activities over the next 12 months is an integral part of the planning and provides guidance for the whole team.
It is generally accepted that planning greatly increases your chances of achieving your objectives, as it brings a focused and coordinated approach to your activities in a time effective and cost efficient manner.
Three key strategies
In the framework of a marketing activity plan, there are three core marketing strategies around which your tactical execution will revolve:
The group of marketing activities concerned with sourcing new clients. This is where prospecting, networking and experience become important.
There are two main acquisition tactics to assist a business to increase turnover: increase leads and increase conversion.
Looking closer for a moment at acquiring new clients, there are three channels through which this is done:
i. direct – the business is acquiring clients directly from the broader consumer marketplace;
ii. internal – existing clients of the business are referring new clients; and
iii. indirect – there is an intermediary of some sort between the business and the potential client who has influence over the client’s decision making. Strategic alliances often fit here.
The group of marketing activities concerned with increasing the overall value of a client to the business (the share of wallet).
The two main growth tactics are cross-selling other products and services and up-selling to a more valuable product or service.
The group of marketing activities concerned with retaining the current level of income you receive from clients. This is a primary driver of business value and profitability. The key underlining tactics of this strategy are ensuring client satisfaction and proactive client communication.
Some practices concentrate on one or two of these options, whereas others pursue all of them. These choices are typically dictated by the stage of business development. A more mature business may focus more on retention and growing their current client base, as opposed to a start-up business that is 100% reliant on acquisition for survival.
Establish a budget
In small business it is important to make every marketing dollar provide a return. Therefore, the money spent on marketing activities must be spent wisely. Benefit by targeting activities at specific prospects, rather than concentrating on enhancing your overall image and brand recognition.
A budget will help you clarify the scale of your marketing activities and provide a basis to measure the return. It is a useful reference point for decisions on which activities to choose, or not choose.
While many ideas look good on paper, they can be detrimental to your business, especially if they are not well executed. Like all good marketers, make sure you take the time to test your ideas before you invest time, effort and money in them.
Matt Fogarty is a director of The Encore Group, a specialist practice management consulting firm. Contact Matt on 1300 780 730 or email@example.com
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