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Part 2 - Field Guide

12 Annual Marketing and Advertising Planning Questions

Failing to plan is planning to fail. While some businesses may succeed by swinging from the seat of their pants, the most successful businesses have a plan of which advertising and marketing are a part. 

It’s true. The most important thing about planning your marketing is planning your marketing. In a fast-paced and changing competitive world, we recommend you allocate some time each week to planning and implementing your marketing. It’s the most high-leverage selling activity you can engage in. 

Many questions need to be answered as you evolve and improve your marketing and advertising plan. We have listed twelve thought-starters here for those weekly planning windows when you might not know what to focus on.

1.  Start with Strategy. What do you want your business to be known for? If you do not have a clear strategy, create one. Once you clearly define what you want to be known for, everything you do with your marketing and advertising should talk to that specific thing. 

2.  Review Last Year’s Marketing and Advertising.  More than likely there were things you did that worked and things that didn’t. Regardless, doing the same things over and over will not make them work any better. The things that worked can be tweaked to make them even better. The things that didn’t work should either be eliminated or completely reworked so you have a better chance for success.  

3.  Does your customer experience deliver happy customers? Is the experience you want your staff to deliver actually being delivered? You can ask the questions yourself, or consider engaging a mystery shopper to uncover the actual customer experience.  

4.  Have you conducted an advertising audit recently? Does your advertising, ALL of your advertising, clearly establish a competitive difference for your company? Is your message consistent across all channels on-air and online?  Over time and without a daily focus, you might find you’re delivering a different message in different media. Your advertising audit needs to ensure that your message is still relevant and meaningful to your prospects.  

5.  Have you invited staff input? Conduct a staff SWOT analysis of your advertising, asking for their candid thoughts and input in terms of your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. Their front-line insights are helpful, and asking for their opinions will be appreciated and create more buy-in for your marketing strategies.  

6.  Do you really know what your competitors are doing? You cannot compete effectively unless you know your enemy. Google their name, check out their website, and you might even send a mystery shopper to their business to determine their strengths and weaknesses. While you don’t want to have a knee-jerk reaction to what you uncover, you do need to confirm your strategy is still relevant and can help you win in the face of any changes your competitors might have employed.

7.  Have you asked for supplier support? Meet with your suppliers to ask what’s working for their vendors in other markets. Are there proven ideas you can use? Do your suppliers have discretionary dollars, products, or prizes they can contribute to your campaigns over and above co-op? 

8.  Do you actively seek free advertising? Do you use blogs, social media, email campaigns, media releases, public speaking, and every free exposure you can to touch your prospects? “Free” advertising is not really free, as it takes a considerable investment in your time, but the investment is often worth it.  

9.  Do you ask for repeat and referral business? What mechanisms can you put in place to capture more repeat business and encourage your staff to ask for referrals and testimonials?  

10. Have you considered cross-promotions? Are there non-competing businesses that can drive traffic to your business in return for you driving customers to theirs?   

11. Do you really know why your customers buy? When was the last time you conducted a customer survey?  

12. Is your media choice strategically correct? Are you using broadcast to inspire and online to inform your customers?  Do you really need to pay for lumberjacks, truck drivers, pulp and paper mills, printing presses, and delivery people or postal workers to get your message out in the new media environment?  

SoundADvice is a co-production of this station and ENS Media USA to help local businesses increase their sales and their return on investment in advertising. Your SoundADvice marketing tips are emailed to you on our behalf from ENS Media USA.

ENS Media USA's address is: 6523 S. Killarney Ct., Sioux Falls, South Dakota 57108

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