Ed Note: I think we can all agree that O.O.’s marketing efforts to date have proven silly and ineffectual (if maybe a little bit amusing). I asked a marketing expert exactly what the point of all that “marketing” stuff is. Enter Mr. Kaufman . . .
Operating without a marketing plan is like taking a trip without a map. Putting jokes about all men asking for directions aside, I am still surprised, after all my years as a corporate marketer, at the vast number of organizations that fail to develop and implement a marketing plan. Such a plan gives purpose and a destination for a company’s venture. More often than not, companies concentrate their efforts on setting lofty goals but have no specific plan of action.
As with any goal, a proper, well-thought-out plan needs to be in place. Nothing holds truer than the importance of a company’s marketing plan. Think of it as an organization’s operational manual. More specific than a business plan, a marketing plan strategically lays out an organization’s path to success. It signifies what you want to accomplish and how you plan to get there, looking at the marketplace in which you compete, including your specific product or
service and how it relates to the potential customer and your competition.
A marketing plan allows you to set goals and benchmarks for your organization. These goals, both long and short term, provide a sort of map to your desired destination. This allows you to continually analyze and gauge your company’s performance as it relates to the specific goals and make the necessary adjustments in order to stay on track.
Some essential steps in creating a marketing plan include:
- Developing your company’s value proposition: This is essentially the company’s business or marketing statement as to why a consumer should purchase their product or use their service. Or, put simply, it’s the answer to the customer’s question of “what’s in it for me?” For a Web site like O.O., perhaps it’s an offer of information or entertainment. For a blue chip company such as IBM, it’s the promise of providing the technological backbone for your business.
- Defining your target market, objectives and strategy: No plan can be initialized without first determining what the target market segment is. With a clear understanding of their user, the company should then lay out its objectives and strategy in reaching this audience. In the example above, IBM’s target market might be “IT managers” or “business owners.”
- Determining the benefits of your products or services: What value does the product/service hold for the consumer? Attempting to establish this will help in understanding what sets it apart from the competition. The organization can then begin to form an idea of what the product/service’s ‘perceived value’ is in the eyes of the consumer. IBM’s track record and scalability of its solutions might be the differentiating benefit.
- Positioning your product/service in the marketplace: This is the process used by marketers to create an identity or image in the minds of the target market segment (consumers) for their brand or service. Maytag’s decades-long message of reliability (the Maytag repairman is bored because the Maytag washers rarely break) is an example of a marketing position.
- Defining your marketing methods: How will the organization go about getting the product or service in front of the potential user? Traditional marketing (door-to-door, direct mail, media ad placement, outbound calls)? Internet marketing (e-mail blasts, viral, search engine marketing, social media marketing)?
- Analysis: Quite simply, the most important step in completing the marketing plan. You must continually track your marketing efforts and analyze the results. This will help you determine what marketing efforts are paying off and which ones should be eliminated. Calculating your return on investment (ROI) is the best way to ensure that your business stays on track with its marketing strategy. For example: If your business is attracting eyeballs to your Web site as to make money off of ad impressions, how did those dollars spent on the above steps increase your revenue stream? Did the money spent on having “Captain Morgan” party in bars, hyping rum drinks, lead to increased rum sales at those bars? For how long?All marketing efforts need to be properly tracked and analyzed. Let me repeat…ALL MARKETING EFFORTS NEED TO BE TRACKED AND ANALYZED! Otherwise, you run the risk of throwing your money away. Technology has added a whole new wrinkle to marketing analysis—from Google Analytics to companies like RingRevenue, which seek to apply similar analytics to more traditional marketing, the tools are available to analyze like never before (though these admittedly can cost as well, in terms of time as well as money).
As with anything in life, the best results are achieved by developing a plan of action. Executing and tracking this plan on a continuous basis provides a path to achieving your company’s goals. By developing a proper marketing plan for your organization, you have taken the first step towards ensuring a prosperous future for your company.
Todd Kaufman is a Los Angeles-based marketing consultant. He has more than 15 years of experience in product marketing, advertising and e-business strategy development; mostly specializing in small to mid-sized firms. Currently, he works in the real estate industry as a residential sales consultant. To contact Mr. Kaufman, go to www.kaufmanproperties.com or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.