Why Would Anyone Plan to Fail?

By Mark Hinder, Responsible for Business Development Programmes, Graphic Communications, Ricoh Europe

The fourth blog on Ricoh’s Guides to Modern Marketing is of course based on the fourth book in the series and is focused on marketing planning.

Now marketing is sometimes perceived as something spontaneous, fluid, and ad hoc but, frankly, it shouldn’t be.

Marketing has to be carefully planned and implemented.

Marketing is a mixture of science and art. The science comes with the strategy, planning, Key Performance Indicators, data, and measurement. Then, they are brought to life with art – concepts and creative treatments that resonate with your market.

The purpose of these blogs is not to summarise all of what is in the books, rather it is to pull out a selection of content areas to give you a flavour of the book, and to encourage you to want to dig deeper.

In this spirit of edited highlights, I want to mention the seven Ps – a concept many of you may have come across in the form of the Four Ps or even the Five Ps. Today, with seven elements, the concept is a very useful strategic formula to be used to continually evaluate and re-evaluate all your activity. It comprises: Products, Price, Place, Promotion, Positioning, People, and Packaging. You should have a clearly defined approach to each. And review how well you are delivering it regularly.

Even more familiar is the tried and trusted SWOT analysis. It’s a great way to define and improve your market position. As a key part of your marketing planning, a SWOT analysis can give you a clear understanding of the world that you, your competitors, and your clients inhabit.

A marketing plan, like any plan, must be rooted in reality, based on proven truths, not flimsy assumptions. Which is why a vital component of the marketing planning process is market research. Printers can easily fall into the trap of assuming they already know all there is to know about their industry so they can then presume their clients and competitors are just like them. Of course, the fact is they are not, and it’s a mistake to think otherwise.

The foundation to all successful marketing strategies is a solid research programme. And the research technology that is available today makes it easier and more affordable than ever.

Marketing should never be a standalone function, carried out in isolation. To be effective, your strategy must have the buy-in, and where relevant, active support, of your colleagues across different departments. For example, when drawing up your marketing plan be sure to include Sales, Customer Service and Production colleagues as they will have to embrace and deliver your proposition consistently, and aligned with each other.

When putting together a marketing plan there is a danger that the difference between strategy and tactics can become blurred. However, it is an important differentiation to make. Marketing tactics are the means of communicating with your clients eg emails, events. But these alone do not comprise a strategy. A marketing strategy is the backbone. It’s the blueprint, the master plan and the glue that holds all the various activity strands together.

Your strategy must look forward. If you don’t have a strategy, you won’t be able to forecast the future. Tactics are focused far more on the present and the midterm future. Tactics are a step toward a goal that’s been set by the strategy. Tactics work hand-in-hand with the strategy and they report progress, successes and failures that come with each part of marketing activity.

The well known expression about failing to plan means you are planning to fail applies as much to marketing as any other core business area. If you are concerned that you may not yet have a marketing plan able to guide your business through the uncertain times ahead, then please seek some specialist input. Now.

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