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  • Patrick Flury

A simple introduction to marketing planning

Every start-up starts their marketing from scratch. Not an easy task. Nobody in the market knows the product. Nobody knows the brand. And in contrast to established companies, there is hardly any empirical knowledge as to which channels and formats work for their products and which do not.

At the same time, there is an unmanageable number of experts, blogs and specialist books, especially in marketing. They all advertise that they have the secret recipe for successful marketing in their pockets. All you need is a big idea that makes cross-platform communication possible, say some. Influencers are the key to success, the others exclaim. No, it would be better to become a love brand. However, you should not neglect your performance marketing, your digital brand strategy or the content concept for Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, which should be based on every phase of the sales funnel. And of course there are enough case studies for each recipe that prove its effectiveness. So where to start?

But starting your marketing from scratch can also be a situation of absolute freedom. A great opportunity to think from scratch. New ways. New ideas. Everything is possible. Anything is fine as long as it increases brand awareness and supports sales. And the only thing that restricts thinking and acting is your own resources. The skills that the team brings with them. And of course the money that is available. But apart from that, all it takes is the courage to start. And maybe a small launch pad that helps to quickly develop and prioritize your own ideas.

Four Questions + Three Audiences = One Marketing Planning Launch Pad

Consider marketing professor Byron Sharp's definition of marketing. He writes in How Brands Grow:

"The key marketing activity is (...) to make a brand easier to buy for more people in more situations." (p180)

For Byron Sharp, there are only two major levers that a marketing team can tweak to make purchasing decisions easier. The team can simplify the perception of the brand by turning on the brand's visibility and oddness. Because someone is more likely to buy a brand they have available in their head. And/Or the team increases the physical availability of the product. Because consumers are more likely to use products that are easily available in their area. Sharp calls these two parameters “mental and physical availability”.

Let's also look at the study by Les Binet & Peter Field, in which they examine the short-term and long-term effects of sales and brand marketing. In the study, they start from the assumption that every brand basically communicates with three target groups: With the existing user base. With potential customers who are interested in the product, brand or category right now. And with the group of those who could become a buyer in the long term, but don't yet know that the brand exists or that they need the product.

Source: The Long and the Short of It: Balancing Short and Long-Term Marketing Strategies by Les Binet & Peter Field, Institute of Practitioners in Advertising (IPA), London

Depending on which target group a brand addresses, it can expect short-term or long-term success. The authors of the study (like Byron Sharp) assume that a brand can only grow in the long term if it continuously expands its buyer base. So also invested in the wide-ranging addressing of future prospects

The marketing launch pad

What happens if we now take Sharp's definition of marketing with the "how question" and then combine it with the three target groups from the study by Les Binet and Peter Field?. Suddenly, a grid is created that breaks down the initial marketing plan into four simple questions. Questions that everyone from interns to CMOs can work on because they free your mind from a lot of (pseudo-)theoretical marketing ballast.

The four questions are:

How do we make it easier for more people in more situations to buy our brand/product?

(Marketing key question)

How do we make it easier for people who don't know us or who don't yet need our product to perceive and remember the brand?

(Sub-question Long-term Prospects)

How do we make it easier for people who are now interested in the brand, product or similar products (category) to access it for the first time?

(Sub-Question Immediate Prospects)

How do we make it easier for our existing customers, fans and followers to buy again and recommend us? (Sub-Question Customer Base)

Use the launch pad In a workshop or as a basis in the strategic Planning, deriving actions for each target group.

And when do storytelling, content and branding come into play?

The answers that the four questions evoke are very functional and usually sound like this: "We need a shorter ordering route", "Discount campaigns to reactivate our existing customers", "A reach campaign on Facebook".

The strategic purpose of the brand story is to form a long-term contextual and visual framework. An umbrella that connects and relates all of the brand's measures to form a uniform image. And not because it looks prettier. But to make it easier for potential buyers to remember the brand along a consistent narrative and to remember the brand later in a buying situation.

The launch pad helps collect new ideas, prioritize them and take action. Anyone who dares something new will get a bloody nose or two. But that's still better than getting bogged down in big ideas, supposed recipes for success, marketing trends and strategies.

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