Getting Started - The Ten-Point Marketing Plan24 Feb, 2003 By: Wes Phillips imageSource
Getting Started - The Ten-Point Marketing Plan
For the last three
months this column has focused on case studies that highlight the marketing and
financial success that office technology dealers can experience if they are
serious about producing significant results and securing the leadership position
in their geographic marketplace. This type of marketing success is attainable by
any dealership. Yet, for many dealers, knowing where to start the planning
process and where to focus their energies is a real obstacle. Therefore this
month's column will provide a template that you can use which will jumpstart
your marketing momentum and launch your dealership on the path to more profits
and marketplace leadership.
The template that
our firm uses for all of our new business fact-finding is what we call the
"Ten Point Marketing Plan." This template is helpful for many reasons.
First, by following the template, it ensures that each senior manager is aware
of the facts surrounding a company's circumstances. Second, the template forces
a company to document the objectives and goals that must be achieved. Finally,
the "Ten Point Marketing Plan" is useful because once it is completed,
an actionable plan can be implemented very quickly.
#1 Core Business
The first step is for the core business objectives to be defined and documented.
On the surface, you may think that this is simple to ascertain. Yet, it is
surprising how many times our team has discovered the lack of insight a senior
management team has regarding where their company is heading and the objectives
that need to be achieved to get there.
As a team, define
what the overall goal of the company is over the next three to five years. The
next step is to distinguish the business objectives that need to be met in order
to achieve the overall goal. These objectives are the big ones and should
address not just revenue and profit, but also infrastructure, capital,
manufacturer relationships, key management and market share growth.
#2 Key Marketing
The second step is to uncover and document the marketing objectives that need to
be met in order to ensure that the core business objectives are achieved. This
is the step where issues such as sales staff size, product mix, gross profit
margins and revenue growth rates should be explored. In addition, this is also
the area where issues such as your dealership's identity and awareness need to
be addressed. In other words, what do you want the market to say about you? What
benefits do you want the market to say they get by doing business with your
This step can generate the most conversation and controversy. This occurs
because at this point you are addressing the issues that are a roadblock to
current success. In addition, these are the issues that many times are either
ignored (with the hope that they will magically go away - - which they won't) or
are used as excuses for poor performance.
The purpose at this
point is just to make sure that the limitations are documented. Usually, we find
that there are two categories of limitations. The first category consists of the
internal limitations caused by finite resources. The second category consists of
issues that exist outside your company. We have found that once limitations have
been explored, it is much easier for the team to communicate because the issues
that prevent success have been openly and honestly discussed.
Historical Contextual Facts
In several situations, we have found that, what we thought were powerful
advertising strategies and plans, were actually useless because we were not
aware of some important events or facts. For example, a few years ago, a new
client did not share with us something that would have been very useful to know.
Apparently their financial circumstances had become precarious and their
competition had become aware of this fact. Unfortunately, our new client felt
embarrassed about this situation and chose to shield us from this information.
As a result we had difficulty negotiating effective media buys.
The biggest negative
impact was that the creative marketing message we implemented did not powerfully
address the concerns of the market. In this case, the advertising did not
generate the ROI that could have been achieved.
It is important that
all relevant issues are discerned. These issues could include the relative
strength of competitors, how the market perceives your product, the
effectiveness of previous advertising efforts or the general economic health of
you market. The main point is to make sure that your are clear with yourself
about what is really going on in your marketplace.
#5 Specify Each
Constituency to be Impacted
In developing a marketing plan, it is important to be very specific about who
needs to be impacted with your marketing message. This distinction is needed
because it has ramifications regarding your marketing message, the media mix and
the creative execution. One of the errors that many document imaging companies
make is to over generalize their target demographic. They may define their
target as businesses that are of a specific size. Though this is a helpful
definition, we have found that in reality, you are really trying to impact
people. So, it is more useful to define your target in terms of gender and age -
for instance many dealers consider their targets to be men 35 - 54 and adults 25
It is also useful to
remember that the target constituency can include those who are not your direct
prospects. In many circumstances you may have vendors, suppliers or banks that
may need to be impacted. Also, many of our clients have discovered that they
need to make sure their advertising message has an impact on their employees.
Finally, it may be wise to include your competitor's employees as part of the
constituency to be impacted.
#6 Market Research
This is one area constantly overlooked by most document imaging technology
dealers. In a perfect world, each dealer would commission a market research
study to specifically determine what their prospects want from a dealer and
which dealer is currently meeting the markets needs. With this type of
information, an extremely effective marketing and advertising program can be
created. However, the world we live in is imperfect and formal market research
is not within the reach of a typical dealer. So, it may be possible that your
manufacturer has formal research that provides insight into the real demands of
end-users. In addition, you can do informal research by contacting ten to twenty
current customers and interviewing them about why they continue to choose your
company as their vendor of choice. The point of this step is to gain access into
insight that can be used to make your marketing messages more powerful.
Simply stated, this is the area where your concerns, perceptions and beliefs
about your company, customers and geography are acknowledged. It may be that you
feel a specific type of advertising just does not work in your market. It may be
that you feel your slogan cannot be changed. Knowing this information is very
useful because it helps everyone to avoid trying to change something that, at
this moment in time, is not going to be changed. This will save time, energy and
help reduce conflicts.
#8 The Competitive
In order to gain insight into the current condition of the market, it is helpful
to understand how the market views your competition. Without the benefit of
formal market research, it may be difficult to accurately understand your
competitors. Yet, by interviewing prospects (particularly those who decided to
buy from your competitor), you can gather information on the strengths and
weaknesses of your competition. This information will guide you to see where
your company has opportunities to create marketing momentum.
After all of the first eight steps have been completed, ask yourself what is
still not making sense. This is the question that many times defines what really
needs to be accomplished. For example, it may be that after all of this work has
been done, the one question that has to be answered is, "why haven't we
been successful with our advertising in the past?" Investigation into the
one issue that still is not fully understood is the gateway to making sure that
you do not stop planning until all of the issues have been fully defined.
#10 What is
Finally, when all is said and done, ask the question, "what are we trying
to achieve?" In straightforward terms, you are documenting the specific
goal of the marketing plan. This clarifies the whole justification for moving
forward with the marketing plan.
Getting Pointed in
the Right Direction
The process described briefly above can be completed in a very short period of
time. Many times it is helpful to use an outside resource to help you through
the process. This could be your advertising agency or a trusted marketing
consultant. However, it can also be completed with a good internal management
The end result of
addressing the ten points can usually be documented on one piece of paper. Once
completed, you have a template that can be used to create an advertising and
sales marketing strategy that will generate more sales activity, revenue and net
profit. In addition, it will help you to achieve the leadership position in your
market and increase the long-term value of your dealership.