Marketing planning for the new financial year

Man gazing into crystal ball

Now that we’re at the beginning of another financial year, it’s the perfect time to take a step back from your business and work on it for a while. In the past financial year you may or may not have had a marketing plan; either way, here’s a couple of fundamentals to get you a good head start for the next 12 months.

As good as we all think we are in business, there is always room for improvement and change, and no doubt one element of this is your marketing.

1. Who’s your competition?

Marketing your brand is all about what you’re communicating in the marketplace. Marketing your brand is a battle of getting into the mind more than anything else…especially when you’re a small business. Getting in their mind first is a big step in the right direction; otherwise you’re forever battling to get inside.

To know which part of the mind to accommodate, you need to know what part of the mind your competition is playing in. Is it based on the audience, price, service or location? You need to be in the part of the mind that hasn’t been taken by your competition. You want to be on, or towards the top of the list, if not the first. If you’re not first into a market, it makes the journey a lot more difficult. No ‘brand’ really owns the mind space of coming to your house to help you with your TV. Now potentially Dick Smith could…that’s what they’re now trying to achieve.

2. Innovate!

If your brand, it’s look and feel, it’s production processes, as well as the innovation and initiative around creating new brands is not a forefront thought within your organisation, the perception in the marketplace can be of a stale and outdated business and brand.

Gone are the days of manufacturing the ‘T’ Fords, when there was no other competition in the United States in the 1920s. And of course before that was Karl Benz in Germany, who is generally acknowledged as the inventor of the modern automobile. It was an integral design, without the adaptation of other existing components, and included several new technological elements to create a new concept. He began to sell these vehicles in 1888. Innovation began well before iPads and hybrid cars.

Customers and clients are always looking for the newest of products and services, the most modern and the most efficient. You need to keep this at the forefront of your business’s organisational philosophy. A brand is more than just a logo; it penetrates into all facets of your business and is perceived accordingly.

3. Quality can’t be your only point of difference

In the commercial world we live in, the expectations of customers and clients are that the product is going to be of a decent standard regardless of price. Yes, you generally get what you pay for most of the time; but there comes a time where the ‘quality’ of your product is not enough to differentiate you in the marketplace. More importantly, it’s not enough in the minds of your customers and clients, current and new, who are out there in the marketplace looking for your category.

The quality of your product is open to interpretation by critics, genuine and phoney. To be reliant on positive opinion in this day and age, where people can access all types of information and feedback from anywhere is dangerous.

4. Position your brand

Communicating vagueness or ego is played out too many times in the branding space marketplace. As a business, big or small, you should be asking yourself, what is my brand communicating? The most important thing we should be doing is owning a piece of real estate in the minds of customers and clients. This is known as the positioning of your product or service. Generally, this positioning defines what you do, as clear as day, to the marketplace.

You need to ask yourself, what position does my brand own in the marketplace? Am I the cheapest in my category, am I the most expensive, am I the first, am I targeting someone that no one else has, am I targeting a region?

5. Be Consistent

So now that you have a position in the mind of your current and potential clientele, are you staying true to your brand’s positioning? I often see brands embarrassing themselves by giving in to retailers or wholesalers for the sake of a one-off sale. If you’re an exclusive brand, don’t be loose on the discounts. If you’re a cheap brand, don’t try to be glamorous. Be consistent in your communication so that people remember what your brand is about. Constant, consistent reinforcement is critical to stay in the position that you belong in people’s minds.

6. Create demand

Instead of creating a line extension, and failing before you even start, create a new category and create demand for it.  A new brand, a new name, and most importantly make sure it has a new focus, a clear and concise positioning for it’s new audience. You need to make sure you’re creating the right perceptions of this new brand and allowing it to blossom and create its own credibility and brand equity. By branding correctly, targeting the right audience, positioning the right way, you can create a whole new customer base, and perhaps a new category in the process. Education is key in a new category. People are always sceptical of something new, so they want to hear good things from other people, not just from you.

7. Communicate your brand

How you choose to communicate your brand is the easy part once your positioning is right. Now it’s about reaching your marketplace at the right times and in the right places. Make it relevant, targeted and focused. This will make the communication budget work at its capacity. The new focus for Dick Smith is now simpler to communicate….he doesn’t have to find a clever way to sell TV’s or AV equipment.