Marketing Planning

I have been asked before why a company needs a Marketing Plan. After all, they’re only read by the person who writes it and those working in marketing, right?

Wrong.

Every person who has to fulfill marketing in their line of work (and that covers a huge number of people, including professional services, those who are self-employed or business owners, and those who want to make a name for themselves) should be aware of their company’s aims for marketing. Not necessarily where they want to advertise or what keywords they’re using on Google Adwords, but what their aims are as a business, what kind of customers they wish to attract, and how they want customers and those associated with the business to perceive them.

For me, it is the final part of that sentence which is most important. The perception of a business can be argued to be the most important part of the marketing process. Think of the following companies; MacDonalds, Gap, Cadburys, Primark. All of them instantly conjure up an instant image that you, and many others, will hold for them. It is the same for your business. Regardless of its size or what it does, people will hold a certain perception of what you stand for and what you do. If their perception is wrong, it is up to you to change it. Having a Plan which addresses this and takes positive steps to make those changes in perceived image is the first step – after all, if your success is likely to be blocked by an incorrect perception of you and/or your business, then you’ll be wasting your time from the outset. 

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Event Do’s & Don’ts – Christmas Edition

Christmas

You may have seen the news over the weekend about Milton Keynes’ “Winter Wonderland”, which was closed down just one day after it opened for being below the standard you’d expect for a festive-themed event, with complaints about a Santa in a cheap suit, an ice rink without ice and reindeers without antlers.

It isn’t the first time that an event aimed at families and Christmas-lovers has sunk below the bar and generated a storm of complaints and bad publicity, so you have to wonder why organisers open events which are bound to meet upset and complaints.

The best way to make an event memorable is to go the extra mile in the small details. People will remember those details that make them smile, whether it be bales of hay at a barn dance, or flower garlands given to guests at a Hawaiian summer party. Some details on their own may seem cheesy, but when they are part of an event which has been well thought out with the theme running throughout the event, these touches will go a long way to generating positive word of mouth publicity for your event.

The outcome of Winter Wonderland’s failure as an event on the company itself is largely financial – a loss of earnings during this Christmas period, the missed opportunity of repeat bookings by the Milton Keynes Council for future years, and the unlikeliness of being hired for an event in the near future without some serious improvement to their operations.

If you are planning a festive event this Christmas, whether it is for a public audience or even just your company party, put some thought into the details, go the extra mile, and make sure people are talking about it for the whole festive period.

Event Cinema

The cost of a night out at the cinema is now more expensive than ever. Tickets are usually just under a tenner and you have to take out a mortgage to afford popcorn too.

However, there are some shows which offer great value and are a real treat. ‘Event cinema’ showings include productions from the National Theatre, BBC programmes, music concerts and sports games and are screened, often live, to your local cinema screen.

I recently saw the National Theatre’s production of ‘Frankenstein’ with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller taking the lead roles, and it was superb. Yes, you miss some of the atmosphere of a live event but you save on an expensive theatre ticket (two if you take a partner!), travel, programmes, the ice cream during the interval, etc, so the ‘event’ becomes much more affordable and accessible, meaning that more people than ever can access these great productions.

If you love a band, you can see them playing live in other countries, without leaving your home town or craning your neck to see around the tall person stood in front of you. If you’re a Whovian, the opportunity to see the recent big 50th anniversary episode was surely a treat on the big screen. Such performances are bringing something new to your local cinema.

Cinema has had to diversify to keep bringing in audiences, and I fully support the move to show live performances and events as part of this. It gives a new access to those who want to experience more but can’t always get to see big performances for a variety of reasons. Some might say it lessens the exclusivity for those seeing National Theatre productions, but performances with big names such as Benedict Cumberbatch will always sell out, and the remit of theatres such as the NT will include extending their audiences and reaching new people, and this is a great way to do that.

I look forward to the next screening!

Out of the Box

I recently heard of a company who were trying to get new customers in a crowded business market by sending a branded box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts every day with their marketing literature and key messages to the businesses they were targeting  for three days. They sent them at 11am and 3pm to coincide with sugar lows – a crafty, and I’m sure effective, way of making sure their doughnuts were eaten and messages seen!

This is clearly a very targeted approach, and too costly for most small businesses to consider. However, it does show that thinking of something a little different can make a big impact. I once got sent pieces of Lego over the course of a few weeks, which eventually built a small aeroplane. As I recall, the message was about building slowly and achieving success, and it still stands out as one of the most eye-catching pieces of information I’ve ever received. 

Small businesses should also think outside of the box to achieve similar results with those they want as customers. For example, if you wanted to target builders, you might send them a branded mug (large-size, of course!) with a tea bag and biscuits popped inside. Or if you were trying to appeal to graphic designers, you’d probably avoid anything with design on, but send them a high quality pencil for them to use, with your business name and website address on.

A novelty branded item is more likely to stay on someone’s desk or in their mind than a simple letter or brochure, so have a think about what might make your business stand apart and what would make the people you want as customers remember you.