It used to be a lot simpler. You knew where your target audience was and you advertised accordingly. Newspapers and radio were great for retailers having a sale, magazines were brilliant for brands to build long-term loyalty, and if you could afford it, TV advertising was the best of the best, giving you a huge spike in sales.
Those days are long gone. Have a look around next time you are out and see how many ads you notice. Static and digital billboards, advertising on cars, buses, bus shelters – sometimes there’s even ads on barrier arms. Supermarkets are full of ads; there are price promotions, recipe cards, competitions, wobblers, floor decals – even product packaging is just advertising really.
Consider for a moment how many advertisements are in our newspapers and magazines, or how many radio stations and TV channels carry advertising. What about all the video and music streaming platforms full of ads, or all of the ads in the apps you use. There’s direct mail delivered to your letterbox, email advertising delivered to your inbox. Ads on all the social media platforms, ads in messenger apps, ads on Google, ads on websites… it's overwhelming.
Figuring out where your target audience will be when they’re in the right mindset to notice and appreciate your message is so much harder than it used to be.
That is why sales and marketing planning is so important.
It doesn’t need to be complicated. You just need to take the time to think deeply about who your customers or clients are, why they will be receptive to your products or messages, where they are likely to be found, what messaging is appropriate and how much you can afford to spend. Once that is clear, marketing decisions are easier to make and they’re much more likely to get the result you need.
Sales and marketing planning also helps you determine how to track and analyse your results. It used to be a commonly accepted norm that only 50 per cent of your marketing worked, but you didn’t know which 50 per cent. Nowadays we have the tools to ensure much less wastage, and proper analysis of results allows you to replicate what works and stop that which doesn’t.
Plus, it's the planning that helps you stay on course. You’d never head off on a road trip without knowing your destination and you'd always take a map or GPS with you. The process of sales and marketing planning allows you to figure out different routes to achieve your goals no matter what challenges arise along the way.
Author: Pip Mehrtens | June 2020