Thursday, May 18, 2017

Seven Steps To A Better Marketing Planning Process

While there are many different planning systems, best-in-class all have the following steps in common.

  1. Assessing Your Market, Customer and Business Situation.  Before you set a course of action, you must first identify what you already have and where you are.  This  part of the process is critical to identifying opportunities and assessing an reducing risks.  Creating a Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats chart will be helpful in this and the next two steps.
  2. Defining the Business Outcomes.  You have to know where you're aiming and what constitutes success before you can determine what to do.
  3. Developing A Strategy.  Your set of competitive moves designed to successfully achieve the outcome(s).
  4. Setting Marketing Performance Targets.  The specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific customer-centric objectives marketing will invest in to achieve the outcomes.
  5. Creating an Action Plan that Connects Activities an Outputs with Outcomes.  The steps and guides that will move the marketing team toward the objectives needed to achieve the targets and produce the results.
  6. Implementing and Managing the Plan.  Without timely and effective execution, even the best plan will fail.
  7. Monitoring and Adjusting the Plan.  The market is constantly moving.  Your organization needs to be both attentive and agile enough to adjust in a timely manner. 
Source: Laura Patterson, VisionEdge Marketing

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

How The Right Marketing Planning Process Saves You Time and Improves Results

Marketing performance research over the past 15 years links best-in-class planning process to excelling at, contributing to and impacting sales.  Specifically, these marketers devote the time needed to gain insights into their market, customers and competitors.  They have clarity and specifically around the company's business outcomes.  They've connected the dots between marketing and business results.  As a result, their plans and  budget are accepted more readily, and are better fortified against cuts if revenue takes an unexpected downturn.  Even with limited resources (time, money and people), some marketing organizations find a way to create and execute on a plan that produces more and better results -- faster.

Process, Process, Process

Processes harness your energy.  They help you stay focused.  The right planning process insures that your plan is salient, relevant,  measureable and accepted.  Your planning process and how well you deploy the resulting plan are your greatest tools and time savers.  Time and again, marketers who visualize the process perform better than those who simply visualize the outcome.  The ability for marketing to enable the organization to achieve future results lies in stringing together powerful activities, one after the otherThe key is knowing specifically what outcomes (i.e. acquire 20 new customers within each of our three primary products with an average order value of $50,000 by fiscal year end) must be achieved and then determine what marketing investments and actions will move you closer toward accomplishing the outcomes. 

You need to create logic chains -- the actions of today that will create the momentum needed to produce the right results.  These chains define the sequence of activities, data and metrics that form the links between your activities and the business outcomes.

With my next post, I'll suggest seven steps to a better marketing planning process.

Source: Laura Patterson, VisionEdge Marketing

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Designing The Right Sales Process

Looking at this chart, this is how a sales process should look: aligned with the customer's buying process.  Every customer buying activity is mirrored at the appropriate time by a selling activity.  The value expected by the customer at each step of their buying process is provided at that time by the selling process.  With such an aligned sales process, you can measure and manage the sales function effectively.  Now, throughputs and fallouts from one step in the sales process to the next reflect what is happening in the customer's buying process, and predictions made about future sales events have a relationship to some real event in the customer's process. 

How do you construct such a selling process?  Two simple steps follow:

  1. Map your customer's buying process.
  2. Created a selling process that mirrors and adds value to your customer's buying process as it's expected, as it's needed.
You've just designed your sales process.  Now you can stop selling and start creating customers.

Source: Michael Gooze, President, Customer Manufacturing Group, Inc.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Are You Creating Customers Or Just Selling?

Assuming that you have a product (or service) for which there's actually a market, many sales efforts fail for one of two reasons: Your sales activities are just that -- a set of activities, rather than a true process. Or, you have the wrong sales process.

Addressing the easy one first: a set of sales activities not organized into a process is nothing more than a chaotic, random group of events.  These result in, surprise, a chaotic, random group of outcomes.  Without a true process in place, there is no way to implement fundamental management tools that are required in any function, such as:
  • Measurement and management.
  • Process improvement.
  • Reporting, coordination, and prediction.
The only way to "manage" or "improve" a sales function that is not process driven is to swap out sales people (or sales managers) and hope for better results.  Sound familiar? 

More sophisticated sales organizations claim to have a process in place.  To the extent to which this is true, it is often the wrong process.  That's because too many sales processes have one of two origins.  They have evolved over time to be "efficient" in terms of dollars spent and internal work flow.  Or, they were modeled after some kind of sales program found in a book or sold by consulting firms.

The problem with these approaches should be apparent.  Sales processes constructed for internal efficiencies do little to make it easier for your customers to buy. And sales processes mirroring an abstract one-size-fits-all approach are unlikely to have relevancy to your customers.  Sadly, many companies have lost sight of the very purpose of sales: to make it  easy for the customer to buy from you.  (Causing them to initially desire or be aware of your product(s) or service is the job for marketing -- not sales.)

The key fact is that your customers have a distinct buying process they go through.  They perform a set of buying actions at specific times (or specific time periods) throughout their process.  At each buying step in their process, they require value of some kind from you.  It might be information -- a brochure, pricing, specifications, expected delivery, etc.; it might be a visit, it might be a demonstration, or something else....or it might be to be left alone. 

The buying activities of your customer and the timeline along which they lie is depicted by the lower line in the diagram below.  The colored shapes represent the different buying steps, and the distance between them along the line represents time.  The colored arrow going upwards, toward the upper line, depicts the value they expect from you at each of their buying steps. 

Now, the upper line in this diagram represents a typical sales process.  Note that the steps it performs are not mirror images of the buying steps the customer goes through.  Nor are the selling activities synchronized with the customer's buying activities.  The sales process starts and ends at different times.  The value delivered to the customer at each selling step is not the value expected by the customer.  This misalignment between the sales process and the buying process is a key reason that so many CRM implementations fail -- they have simply automated a bad process.

Next blog: Designing the Right Sales Process

Source: Mitchell Gooze, Customer Manufacturing Group, Inc.


To share common sense lessons learned with 40-plus years experience in marketing, sales and as a B2B publisher.