Marketing Planning – a case study

This month’s blogs have all been around planning your marketing.  Obviously I’m going to say marketing planning is essential, but let me give you an example of what can happen when you do.

Case Study Ninja started in 2016 and I met Sarah, the founder, at a Croydon Tech City event.  For those of you who know Croydon (not the Kate Moss and Tiger Tiger version), you know if has a rapidly growing tech scene and is one of the fastest growing economies in the country. Croydon Tech City hold regular events aimed at new tech entrepreneurs, to help them launch and grow their business ideas.

As you must when networking, Sarah and I followed up our brief chat and business card swap with a further conversation.  I found out that she’d already been talking to other marketing agencies, but I still had an opportunity to pitch. Thankfully I won the work and we set about planning how to take Case Study Ninja to the world.

Who

We brainstormed who to target, why that person and the pains, needs and issues they had.  We matched how Case Study Ninja helps them to their needs and finally looked at the what would stop them buying.

How

The second session looked at what channels and how we would take Case Study Ninja to market. Of course, we considered what social media channels to use, but also what other online, and offline, channels would be used.

The Result

Case study Ninja now has over 70 clients and is thriving.  More detail can be seen in our case study here, but I recommend you also check out their website. If you use case studies as key evidence to help you win new clients, you should seriously consider using them.

Planning your marketing isn’t something you can leave to your marketing consultant. You must be directly involved, for a number of reasons:

  1. You know your business better than your marketing consultant will. Your input is vital.
  2. How will your consultant know what skills you have within the business, and what needs to be found?
  3. Have you been truthful about the budget you have available and what could impact that budget? If not, how can your marketing consultant know what is going to happen?
  4. Finally, you get more from your marketing being a success than anyone. It’s in your interests to be involved.

I hope this helps

Do you have the marketing skills you need?

do you have the marketing skills you need?

You love what you do.

You’re great at what you do

Are you great at telling others how they will benefit from working with you?

Let’s look at why you need to think carefully about this.

You’ve set goals for the business. They’re ambitious and so will take some work, so you need things to work well to achieve them.

You’ve got a marketing strategy that is aligned with your business plan and aimed at your goals. Now it’s time to look at the marketing plan and what needs to be done.

  1. Do you have the marketing skills needed?

Unless you run a marketing agency, it shouldn’t be automatically assumed you have the skills you need. As a business owner, I’d be confident that you can talk to anyone. You can quickly and easily talk about what you do and about some of your clients and the work you’ve done for them. For the networking that most small businesses do, you can probably do this well and be the figurehead for the business.

Whether you have the skills to run an Adwords campaign or to build a following on social media is another thing.

  1. Should you be doing the marketing?

As the business owner, you have a lot of hats to wear anyway. As the Managing Director, you are the figurehead for the business and the leader. Your role is to make sure everything gets done, not to do it.

If you are still heavily involved in the operational delivery within the business, is your time best spent delivering for your clients or trying to attract them? Unless you are going to pay your marketing resource more than your hourly charge rate (bet you don’t), you are far better off earning the money.

  1. Do your staff have the marketing skills?

In the early days, your staff are expected to contribute and do whatever needs to be done. As you grow, they have specific jobs to do. These jobs need to be done to keep the company running smoothly and to keep the clients happy.

Some of the staff may well be able to do some of your marketing, but what is the impact of taking time away from their specific job? Would that mean you need to add resource to get their “proper job” done?

Unless they are under-utilised, I’d suggest you will be better off keeping them doing what you originally employed them to do.

If the goals you have set for the business are ambitious, you need everyone doing a great job.  That means doing the job they are best at. For you, that is running the company and ensuring you have happy staff and happy clients. Your staff need to be doing their jobs, so you have just one more question to answer when it comes to getting the marketing skills you need to have within the business…

Do you recruit or do you outsource?

I hope this helps

So just what is a marketing strategy?

what is a marketing strategy

There is a difference between a marketing plan and a marketing strategy, but many people get them mixed up.  Let’s discuss…

Perhaps the simplest way to explain the difference is this:

  • Your marketing strategy is what you aim to achieve
  • Your marketing plan is how you are going to do it.

The development of your marketing strategy and plan is the 3rd step in the process we take all new clients through, after measuring the marketing performance over the last 2-3 years and then understanding exactly who is in the target audience.

Your Marketing Strategy

As a business, you will have a set of goals and targets for the next year. They usually include a growth target – we want to grow by 50% in the next 12 months. Your marketing strategy is the first step in achieving that goal.

What does it include?

Your marketing strategy will include the following:

  1. Your long-term business target (50% growth for example) alongside what this means in reality
    1. Are you going to sell to more clients or sell more to your current clients (market penetration)?
    2. Are you going to sell more products to your current market (product development) or, are you going to sell your current products to different markets (market development)
    3. Perhaps you are taking the trickiest route to growth – diversification (new products to new markets)
    4. How many net new clients does this mean?
    5. Whether you assume you are going to lose any current clients – or keep them all
  2. What you sell and why
    1. For stakeholders and for staff to understand the business
  3. The key routes to market
    1. Not the tools you are going to use, but whether you will primarily be using online or offline, whether you are using predominantly a referral strategy or an account management one.

Your Marketing Plan

Your marketing plan will include:

  1. The specific marketing channels and tools you will use
  2. What you expect to achieve from each tool/channel:
    1. How much website traffic
    2. Which social media channels have how many followers?
    3. How many phone calls?
  3. How does each channel contribute to achieving your overall goals?
    1. Which are primarily awareness generation tools?
    2. Which will engage your target audience?
    3. Which are aimed at generating the leads you need?
  4. What is the competitive situation?
    1. How many competitors do you have?
    2. How does your product/service differ from the competitors?

Your marketing strategy shows what you want to achieve, with the plan showing how you are going to get there. You cannot develop a marketing plan without having a strategy in place that matches your business plan. After all, there are two key parts of your business that will help you achieve your business goals:

  1. Operations: ensuring you deliver on your promises to your clients and, ideally, keep as many as possible.
  2. Marketing: developing new leads to generate the clients you need to grow the business.

If the two don’t work together, it will be very difficult to achieve your business goals.

I hope this helps.

Fail to Plan, plan to fail

As a small business owner, your time is precious. If you don’t plan your time, you are asking for trouble.

You have so many different hats within your business, so you need to ensure that you maximise the use of that time. One of the key uses of your time is the marketing of your business. Let’s look at the implications of not planning for this.

Time gets used elsewhere

Your marketing needs to be planned. Planning it shows you, and your team, what needs to be done and how much time needs to be allocated to your marketing.

The problem with marketing is it can easily be put aside when you become busy. The thought is that “you’re busy, so why do you need to do marketing”. The time could easily be used for operational delivery or account management, for example.

Unfortunately what happens is then your business runs the risk of entering a rollercoaster period of marketing – sales – delivery – marketing – sales…….

Time gets used poorly

When you get used to “fitting in” your marketing, it becomes easy to drag people off of the marketing when they do start.

This can lead to your marketing staff doing just the simple stuff because it can be completed quickly, before they get dragged off to do something else. The problem is that the simple stuff rarely delivers the good results.

Time isn’t productive

When they aren’t simply tweeting or adding LinkedIn, your staff with marketing responsibility may well start work on something more complex. In fact they may well start working on the same thing multiple times, simply because they get pulled off of it just as frequently. In the same way that it takes anyone a couple of minutes to get back into a task when the phone rings unexpectedly, your marketing team loses productivity when constantly being disturbed and reassigned.

Time doesn’t deliver any results

The ultimate result of a lack of marketing planning and time allocation is a lack of results. Your website doesn’t see the improvements in its search engine performance. You don’t get the leads and you don’t get the sales.

What then happens is you do allocate the time. Your marketing becomes effective again and the roller coaster continues.

Stay off the rollercoaster

It’s not always easy but if you do plan your marketing and then commit to that plan, your marketing will be consistent, it will be effective and you have a far better chance of getting the leads you need to grow your business and achieve the success you want.

I hope this helps