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Kenneth W. Keller: The mid-year company marketing review

Inside Business

Posted: June 23, 2009 7:39 p.m.
Updated: June 24, 2009 4:30 a.m.

The mid-point of the year is an appropriate time to review how the year is progressing in marketing.

There are two questions that require answers to properly assess the effort and results to date:

1. What goals did the company have for marketing this year?

2. How to the results compared to the goals at the mid-point of the year?

Most companies don’t set marketing goals, and so they don’t compare the results of the effort to their goals at the mid-point — or at any point. If you answered, “What marketing goals and what marketing results?” you would be in the majority.

When times are good, marketing isn’t seen as being important; for many companies business flows in, making the need to market diluted.

In a challenging economy, one of the critical factors is effective marketing because it often means the difference between success and failure.  

What is marketing? According to Bill Miranda, a consultant based in Valencia, “Marketing is everything that a company does to make the telephone ring; after that it is up to sales to create the relationship with the prospect and close the deal.”

In order to be successful in the long term, having a written plan to create visibility in the market will make a substantial difference. It is unfortunate that many companies don’t have a written marketing plan, and so taking the time to thoughtfully prepare one can make the difference between not only survival and failure but success and great success.

Having a written marketing plan is a sustainable competitive advantage for a company. Most companies do not have a marketing plan and as a result, they simply “wing it.” They have no sustained effort to consistently reach current, former and prospective clients.

What is a marketing plan? It is a written document that sets goals, timetables, budgets and assigns task responsibility for creating visibility for the company to the defined target markets. It does not have to be long; one-page marketing plans are commonly used.

A marketing plan answers questions about what resources will be spent to achieve what measurable goals in what period of time.

Having a plan by itself does not guarantee success any more than having goals does. The plan will be a success if the resources necessary (time, money and people) are assigned to achieve the stated goals and there is consistent discipline to review and re-plan on either a monthly or quarterly basis.   

Someone has to be in charge of marketing within the company. The person has to have knowledge, time to devote, the ability to spend resources, the authority to get things done and must have someone to hold him or her accountable for achieving the goals that have been set.

Owners often confuse marketing with advertising. Advertising is a vehicle in which the company pays for message placement in a medium place where the target market might find it. But marketing is much more than paid advertising.

PR, or public relations, is a fast-growing segment of marketing in which the company crafts the message and the media publishes it at no cost to the company.

If you see a story about a new innovative product or company somewhere, chances are the company pushed the story and the media picked it up and placed it in a venue (print or electronic). Hollywood thrives on PR because it doesn’t cost “the stars” any money to stay in the public eye.

Social media is yet another vehicle for reaching a target market at no cost to the company. Facebook, Linked in, Twitter, MySpace and the like all have a commercial component to them.

On a regular basis the local Hyatt Regency advises all of its “friends” what is on the menu for lunch and dinner, providing a less expensive, cost-effective way to drive traffic to the restaurant.

Another inexpensive marketing strategy to reach a target is through consistent e-mail marketing. One local retailer has gathered more than 1,500 e-mail addresses of individuals who have visited the store and desire to stay in touch on a regular basis to learn about new products and specials.

It is the middle of the year, and it has been a challenging year for many who read this column.

If the results you seek are not where you want them to be, now is the time to set aside the time needed to write a marketing plan for your business.

If you are expecting different results in the second half of the year without such a plan, perhaps you have a dose of “business insanity,” — you keep doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result.

Kenneth Keller is president of Renaissance Executive Forums, which brings business owners together in facilitated peer advisory boards. His column represents his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.



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