Marketing Cycles and your marketing plan for 2011


Planning that 2011 marketing campaign? Do you build a marketing plan for each year? Does your marketing plan match your company goals?
As I sat with a marketing partner yesterday, these questions struck me as obvious for small business owners. However, I wondered how many don’t actually take the time annually to review their marketing plans and ask the tough questions.
As a media representative for the past 16 years I have had many conversations with business owners regarding marketing plans and how certain media fit those plans and goals. I am often surprised at what they purchase and how often it was not in line with their business goals or objectives, instead it was just a good deal or they liked the rep and wanted to give it a try.
In the next few posts I will break down media buying and marketing plans a little further in hopes that a small business owner which needs help can find a few answers that will help produce a better result in 2011.

Today lets focus on Media plans and the timing of your marketing.

Each business segment has a natural business cycle. Periods where business will peak and times where business will dip. Businesses have a couple methods in which they can approach this business cycle in marketing. In 2011 help your business maximize success by knowing what strategy works best for your company goals.

1. Brand Awareness Marketing. A level marketing plan for the entire year.
In the early ninety’s it was popular to discuss marketing and to believe we could be consistent with our marketing all year round and balance this natural business cycle. Ever heard the term TOMA (top of mind advertising), this media-marketing plan encouraged consistent frequency of simple branding messages that would increase the likeliness that when a customer was in the buying marketplace your business would be top of mind. Television, newspaper and radio all sold advertisers the ideas of this brand management strategy. For a company with a larger budget this program can be a great support-marketing plan. It will neither drive traffic this weekend nor will it make or break this years marketing growth plan. It will provide brand growth, especially in an economy where market share can be taken because of weaker competition.
2. Salvage Marketing. The method of only marketing when business is in dip and trying to pull customers into the store to support a diminishing bottom line.
Sadly I find that this method is used way too often. Usually by business owners that have no marketing plan or a marketing budget that is not adequate to reach its goals. They hope that by placing an ad this weekend that business will magically boom and the monthly bottom line will correct itself. Rarely happens, but at least they are trying. Many small businesses with out a full time marketing department fall into this method of marketing. They are reacting to market conditions and are often sold the next hot marketing sales program from various media.
3. Peak Marketing. This method suggests that only marketing around your natural peaks and guarantees your chance for optimal return on investment.
Of the three I like this method the most for local business owners with a solid marketing plan and set marketing budget. Marketing around your peak seasons (Each Business naturally will have three to five peaks in a year) will help drive peaks higher and often extend peak sales days during this period. For a business which is beyond its first several years in business and have built a good reputation and client base this form of marketing can allow them to increase customer base most efficiently when their best customers shop.
4. Event Marketing. There are various ways to run event marketing. Typically you are going to increase investment around an event and drive traffic for a short window of time.
With the onslaught of options available to a business in event marketing it is wise to find yourself a consultant figure in helping your complete the event effectively and according to your goals as a company. Event marketing itself can be the sole business model for marketing, but I do not recommend it as a single entity. Consumers will tire of the mentality and find value in your competitors quickly if al they are ever offered is an event.

The importance of knowing your media buying style and how it matches your business cycle should not be over looked. Your business will never reach its goals efficiently by just buying the next program that walks in the door. Take time to understand what your business cycle looks like and what your desired approach to marketing will be in 2011. A great source for industry cycles is Admall. Another way your business can determine your business cycles is through trade publications, suppliers, or last year’s revenue peaks.

If you are a small business and you just don’t know which is the best approach for you, get a consultant to help you out. Consultants often offer to give you a free hour to discuss what your goals and objectives are, and then will provide you with an organized and unbiased marketing plan that is focused on your goals. This will prevent you from just buying the next promotional plan your sales rep has for you. It will help you determine if what is being presented and pitched is in line with your marketing plan, theory and budget.

Remember the one factor we are assuming hear is that you have sent the time to formulate a marketing plan or goal for 2011. Plan to prosper in 2011, and work the plan.

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