By Vicky Hudson
The New Year will be here shortly and by now your marketing planning for 2013 should be well underway.
While you determine your budget, assess your resources, and begin to create a timeline for implementation, keep in mind the marketing plan for 2013 should focus on a process that begins with detailed information about your customers.
Good customer research can form the basis of a solid campaign, keep strategies on target and eliminate waste of both time and dollars.
That research will help you create a strategic objective in line with real facts and corporate goals. It may include helping to increase sales by 20 per cent, building brand awareness with targeted organizations by 30 per cent or more, generating thought leadership through social media, or determining which strategies will be needed to launch a new product or a new service.
A review of your efforts in 2012 is often a good place to start.
Did your firm meet your sales objectives as a result of your marketing strategies and tactics? Did you connect with customers and prospects in a way that brought them to your website and/or created more conversation on the street? Did it encourage prospects to set-up a meeting with a member of your team and end in an agreement to do business together, either now or in the future?
Once you ascertain which portions of the program worked and which ones did not, you can begin to make adjustments.
You may decide that your current marketing plan is highly successful and only minor adjustments need to be made going forward.
Conversely it may be determined that the plan produced results that could only be labeled “disappointing”.
For many businesses the results can fall somewhere in the middle. Some techniques probably worked well or at least produced acceptable results. Others were totally ineffective.
Some firms, including many small businesses, have marketing plans that can be called highly “fluid”. They may or may not have an actual documented program, preferring to try things as they come along.
These companies may purchase an advertisement in a newspaper for a six week run, bounce over to a radio station for a two-month schedule and then try a low-budget campaign on television simply because it sounded like a good deal. Then, based on sketchy results, they start that process all over again looking for some type of magical marketing formula.
Instead companies should focus on a planning initiative that begins with solid information about their customers. This includes understanding the demographics and psychographics of the purchaser.
In the business to consumer sales situation it is easier to determine the make-up of the customer base. Charge cards, sales receipts, and email lists will tell you where your customers live, their approximate age, frequency of purchase, most popular items bought etc.
The business to business marketplace can be more challenging. A customer may be giving a portion of their budget to your firm but spending larger dollars with another competitor. They may have misperceptions about your products or services. They could be unhappy with their current sales representative and ready to spend their entire budget with another company.
Customer research can reveal areas of concern as well as successes with existing clients. It can help determine important background information about purchasers including age, education, and reading habits such as trade journals, business journals, online publications etc. It can also form a profile of potential buyers as you enter new markets or business segments.
Armed with the proper amount of customer background a company can create a solid and targeted marketing plan. One that is not “hit or miss” but well documented and well thought-out, forming the basis for success in 2013.