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Marketing planning and research for the budget sensitive business

posted 16 Aug 2010, 12:46 by Leigh Tymms   [ updated 26 Aug 2010, 05:53 ]
Marketing planning and research for the budget sensitive business

Many organisations neglect producing a marketing plan of any real depth or conduct any specific market research, instead focusing purely on promotional activity.

So why is marketing planning and research important? Without these processes, the organisations marketing can be like a shot gun, scattering shrapnel widely, in the hope of hitting their target. By contrast, having the right planning and research can make the marketing more akin to a sniper, with precise targeting and high effectiveness.

So if your business could be a tough, hard-hitting super sniper, why is it that many organisations  skip research and planning in favour of a scattering of varied promotional activities? Often it’s a lack of marketing understanding or an assumption that senior management, that by conducting day to day business, they know the marketplace inside-out. It is therefore important to be crystal clear as to what both market research and planning involve and the ways they can drive a solid return on the much valued marketing investment.

Market Research:

The Royal Statistics Society describe market research, as being “a means for providers of goods and services to keep themselves in touch with the needs and wants of those who buy and use the goods and services”. Research will often also consider additional parties to the consumer, such as competitors, associations and other stakeholders.  

There are a multitude of cost effective methods for gathering research, from online surveys, to interviews, focus groups, utilising internal management information, tests, asking the question on social media , tools provided by Google, referencing (often freely available) published research and much more. What is appropriate will depend on the objectives of the organisation and research programme. The various types of research can all be used towards the following:

· Understanding the changing dynamics in the marketplace allows potential opportunities to be found and negative changes to be prepared for
· Knowing more about the customer allows an organisation to understand exactly what it is they want, their expectations needs and objections. This helps the proposition and marketing message to be tailored more closely to their needs
· By understanding the range of potential customers in the marketplace, their volumes, potential value and requirements, an organization can target the segments to which it can focus its efforts, making the communications more focused and impactful
· Researching the competitors strategies and communications allows the researching organisation to replicate the best approaches, deploy defensive tactics and differentiate

Marketing Planning:

“For organisations, operating in an increasingly hostile and complex environment, it is vitally important to move rapidly beyond basic forecasting and budgeting systems to strategic marketing planning if they want to achieve real success in their market places” (Malcolm McDonald, 2006). This is particularly relevant to the budget conscious business and it need not be a laborious, expensive task to create a marketing plan  - it often it boils down to getting the programme of activity scoped out on one page. 

An effective marketing plan can help deliver the following:

· A clear, targeted and measureable part of an organisations overall business planning
· Leverage the market research and create effective approaches to help gain competitive advantage
· Establish strong foundations for the organisation to make management decisions – by understanding the typical response rates , associated costs and likely return on investment, activities can be prioritised, so precious budget is spent where it will have the greatest impact
· Set realistic business expectations as to the amount of business likely to result from the marketing campaigns, enabling the operational side of the business to prepared to deliver this
· Strengthen a brand and boost response rates, through delivering integrated and consistent messaging
· Inclusion of testing strategies, to systematically go about finding the approach and message that works best, to get the optimum return on investment each time it is used
· A working document – to support the development of the business and to assist briefing suppliers and partners in delivering their aspects of such activity

The utilisation of market research and creation of a marketing plan, perhaps with fewer, more focused activities is more important for the budget sensitive organisation than any other. A little investment in putting these processes in place will pay dividends down the line. 

For more information and advice, including market research, developing marketing strategies and plans, or sourcing clean data lists of prospects, contact or call us today