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There’s an old saying “Fail to plan and plan to fail”. As a first marketing column for Marine Business we thought we would go back to basics and run you through the 10 step process for creating an effective marketing plan.

FPI Marketing takes calls from prospective customers often looking for a “quick fix” to flagging sales. There are ways to boost sales using short term tactics but if you don’t know where you are now, where you want to be, how you are going to get there, and which way is best, then you will often be stalled in the surf waiting for the next wave to carry you forward.

Regardless of the size of your business, you will need a plan. The following 10 step process can take an afternoon’s strategic meeting or months of intensive work. The more you put in to it the more you get out.
 
Step 1 - Business review
 
This is the “where are we now” section. Often this step is cut short by a business owner or CEO whose assumptions are more respected than market research. We would encourage you to be open to researching your company, your product, your market place, your target market, your competitors, your numbers and your customers. You will be surprised by some of the results and the gold you uncover will form the basis for and justification of the dollars you spend in later steps.
 
Step 2 - Problems and opportunities
 
Once you have all of your “data” from step one you will need to turn it in to “information”. To do this, pull out the core issues that need resolving and the brilliant things that need highlighting. Make summary points of all of these.
 
Step 3 - Sales objectives
 
Knowing what we need to achieve from a sales point of view will set the tone for the marketing plan. Everything that follows is designed to meet the sales objectives. It is also the only way to set the budgets.
 
Step 4 - Target markets and marketing objectives
 
Based on the previous steps you can now define groups of people with common characteristics, purchasing needs and buying habits that are likely to buy your product in sufficient quantities to achieve your goals. Once we have defined these people (your target market) it will be much easier to understand their behaviour as well as find more of them. Remember, the wider you throw your net, the more bi-catch you will get. It will take more dollars to not only get those people in the first place but then to sort through them for the ones you really want to talk to. Be targeted by knowing your market.

The marketing objectives are a definition of what behavior we want from the target market which is then quantified so we achieve the sales objectives.
 
Step 5 - Plan strategies
 
We need to define and develop what we want people to think of and associate with our brand/product versus the competition. Our marketing strategies will describe how we will achieve our objectives. Note: Don’t confuse this step with step 7 as tactics are different to strategies. E.g. Objective = “Catch the fish”, Strategies = “Research what they eat, where they hang out and go there, systematically work as a team” Tactics = “Burley the area, allocate roles to the team, present the bait to them on the end of a line, reel them in with the best quality gear we can afford.”
 
Step 6 - Communication goals
 
There should be a common theme to what is being communicated across all mediums. These communication goals keep the tactical marketing activities from straying away from the desired message. It’s no good having a radio campaign saying one thing, a website presenting something else and an in-store message or sales person which is conflicting with what people are expecting to see and hear.
 
Step 7 - Tactical marketing tools
 
Tactical marketing tools are the marketing activities which often make up a company’s marketing communications plan. They are to tools to get the message out there, to reinforce it at every point of contact and to make the sales process as easy as possible. There is a non-definitive list of possible marketing tools on the FPI Blog.
 
Step 8 - Budget, ROI and Calendar.
 
A marketing budget recommendation of 3 to 5 per cent of revenue is often quoted but we would encourage you to change this figure to a higher percentage based on gross profit rather than revenue. What that number is will be subject to many factors such as how established you are in the market, your brand awareness, your sales objectives. Once you have this you can work out your return on investment and can then start to put some numbers on a calendar of marketing activities for the year.
 
Step 9 - Execution
 
An old boss of mine simplified complex things on a daily basis... “Make it happen!”. All the planning is useless unless we take action and do it. Some elements may be tested before going full scale to minimise risk. You have to have pig headed discipline to make things happen. If you can’t do it personally then employ someone each month just to move things forward.
 
Step 10 - Evaluation
 
Establish a method of determining success. What worked? Why? Do we do more of that? What didn’t work? Why? A marketing plan is a fluid document as it will move and evolve over the course of a year as you learn from it’s execution. You must review it regularly. The great news is that for next year you will be all those steps ahead. Just don’t assume it is all going to be the same...

Conclusion

So there you have it. A 10 step process to create business success. Too hard? If it was easy then everyone would do it. Planning takes a commitment of time and effort. You can bring in 3rd parties to help you. You will be challenged to look at your business from the consumer’s, the accountant’s and the competitors point of view and you certainly won’t always agree with what they see.

We would like this marketing column to be a regular feature in Marine Business but we want to ensure we give you what you need to help run a successful business. To give your feedback as to what marketing topics we should cover please email marketing@fpimarketing.com.au .

More info at www.fpimarketing.com.au.

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