13 "New" Ways to Look at the Planning Process
Everyone who took a basic marketing class at school learned the 4 P's
A decade ago I tackled this issue - and built a list of "9ine
P's" (yes, spelled that way, too!). It was okay for a while ...
yet, it's now time for an update and an upgrade.
In my opinion 4 was never right - and even when you added a few more
there were holes. My list of only 9 was frequently challenged ... often
with a sound suggestion for an addition.
So, it is time for a complete "new" list. Here it is ...
The Baker's Dozen ... 13 "New" Ways to Look at the
P #1. People come first
It's hard to fight with this thought. Yet, People as a category has not
been on any list of "P's". Instead, we "assume" the
audience, the marketplace, the People who can buy what you sell, are part
of the formula. The equation.
It is wrong to assume! As everyone who has been in the marketing, advertising,
sales promotion, public relations or merchandising arena for a day or
two knows, it is the right People who make things happen.
And no matter your media, too; mail / print / broadcast / "E"
/ special events ... whatever it is and in whatever combination, getting
to the right People is mandatory. It is not optional - it is the
key factor in marketing success.
People DO come first.
P #2. Your Product fulfills a need
In times past, products and services were created, manufactured and sold,
with little effort.
Business was always good immediately following a long economic downturn.
Or a war. When a "new" country is born. Anytime there is strong
demand for different, new, unique - almost everything sells well.
For much of the 3 decades beginning in 1960, through most of the 1980's,
marketers asked what their customers needed, and then provided it. There
was very little "here it is, take it or leave it" attitude.
Suppliers listened to buyers.
Then came the '90's. That decade, and early into the 21st Century, were
different. The so called dot.coms, and many like them, acted as if whatever
they tossed in the air would achieve bundles of success. And profit. We
all know, with rare exception, that philosophy did not work.
So, what's the bottom line? The bottom line is whatever you bring to
market must fulfill some need of your customer. More than a want.
Or a hope or desire. It must meet a true need. And your widget must do
something for the customer they can't get elsewhere.
The second P is your Product fulfills a need. It must.
P #3. Have Passion for what you offer
Other than in "R" rated movies, the word Passion isn't heard
much these days. And what a shame.
When you really believe in your product, your service and what
you offer to your marketplace, it will show. Passion comes across in words,
content, attention to detail. It is listening to the customer. It is walking
the extra mile. Upping the offer, faster delivery, ultimate value. It
is all a part of customer service.
And it is attitude. What customers hear and see in the people of your
Express honest Passion and you will increase your business. As it will
show you truly care about people.
P #4. What is the Purpose?
Purpose is a good question. What IS the purpose of your product, your
service? What does it do that your customer just can't live without?
Ask - listen - learn ... and when you know the Purpose as your customers
see it, you're ready to market ... to sell. Based on what you now
understand, ask and answer a few Purpose questions;
... why would anyone need what I offer?
... how is my product really used?
... what objective / solution does it fulfill?
Purpose is a good place to do a features / benefits analysis. As people
do not buy red buttons -- they buy what happens when you push red buttons.
They buy results.
Know what Purpose you bring to the marketplace is P #4.
P #5. ... and level of Performance?
Comparing what you offer to others in the marketplace is what your customer
will do. You might as well do it - first.
Performance is relative. There is a place for the finest quality ...
a mid-range ... a less than wonderful.
So, just as you must know the purpose, you must also know the Performance
levels you bring to market. This relates back to people - where your Performance
fits in the mix of options available. What needs are fulfilled.
What your Performance standards are is not nearly as important as making
them clear to your buyer. So there are no surprises - no disappointments.
Every expectation your customer has must be met. With total satisfaction.
Know your level of Performance - make sure your customer knows, too.
P #6. Your Potential affects your marketing
Marketing is a numbers business. Potential is all about numbers.
No one has too much business. They may have too much business at the
end of the month. Or beginning of the quarter. Or on Tuesday. Or between
5pm and 7pm each week-day. Yet, there is no such thing as "too much
And, no one has infinite Potential, either. As, no matter your product,
not everyone is going to need it. Marketing success is measured by numbers.
Thus, you need to get a thorough understanding of a few. Numbers such
as . . .
... how many customers do you have today
... what do they buy from you
... what could they buy from you
... what is the Life Time Value of your best customers
... what will it take to make more of your customers "best"
... how many prospects are in your marketplace
... what are they buying from others they could buy from you
... what will it take to convert these prospects to your customers,
and a host more. You get the idea.
Before you set marketing and sales objectives you must have an idea about
Potential. Ask and answer this laundry list of questions - and you're
well on your way to achievement.
P #7. The Place affects your marketing
Place is convenience. It is geography. It is options on how to do business
How can your customer buy from you? What options do you offer? Can they
order over the telephone? By sending a fax? Or an E-mail? Off your web
site? Maybe by traditional direct mail - a mail-order operation?
Must they come to a store location? Or a boutique within a box story?
How about at a trade show? Or other special event ... a seminar or industry
happening? Will you hit the road and visit 1:1 with your customer in their
Place - not only yours?
Place is also 24 / 7 / 365 ... anywhere at anytime.
Place can be very important for some people - not so for others. Place
can be a factor for certain types of exchanges, and not for others.
Place does affect your marketing. Know that. Address it.
P #8. Yes, Price is always a consideration
Price has always been an issue. It always will be an issue. Yet, it is
rarely, if ever!, THE issue. It is just another consideration in the collection
of considerations the buyer makes.
Because Price is a quickly measurable item, many tend to focus on it.
As you can "see" the Price. It appears high, or low, or just
right. It includes extra value, or not. It is more, or less, than last
year. Compared to others it is _____ , fill in the blank. It is
something to the buyer.
Price affects your marketing, too. If your product is high-end, your
marketing must be high-end. If you're at the other end of the spectrum,
then your marketing must reflect what you are. If you're Rolex or Ferrari
your marketing had better look rich. If you're the Salvation Army or Dollar
Stores, you'll do better looking poor.
Yes, Price IS always a consideration.
P #9. And Promotion will affect results, too
How your Promotion reaches your audience will affect your results. Meaning,
how you tell your story to your marketplace will make a difference.
In many cases your choice of Promotion is easy to determine. If you sell
B-2-B and have only a few hundred or thousand customers or prospects,
you will quickly eliminate broadcast, national magazines and newspapers.
Instead you'll look at E-Mail Marketing, selected specific newsletters,
maybe a regional industry trade show, and targeted direct mail. Each to
drive your market to your WWW site. You may follow-up all response with
a fax message and a telemarketing chase.
No matter your media selection, your Promotion must include 2
#1). a multi-effort, a series of contacts to the same audience, with
the same message and offer, and
# 2). a multi-media campaign ... a mix of media, each carrying your
same message and offer to the same audience.
Repetition builds your reputation. Your selection of Promotion will affect
P #10. Enjoy the added value of Pass-A-Long
Word of mouth, around since Adam and Eve, may still be the best "advertising".
Where someone suggests to another they try what you offer. We call it
In the multi-media world of today, "word of mouth" recommendations
are back. Pass-A-Long is a fact. If the concept died during the mass-media
rush of the last half of the 20th Century, it is alive and very well today.
Especially with E-Mail and the Web.
In fact, Pass-A-Long is so "alive", some are dying from
it. What do I mean? With the advantages of the Web come instant communication.
Which simply means, screw-up, do damage, perceived or real, to a customer
or prospect, friend or foe - and there is a good chance the "world"
will know about. Frequently before you do.
How's that? It's easy; chat rooms, message boards, web sites, E-Mail
are quick. And whatever you've done, or not, can be news circling the
globe before you say "Jack be nimble, Jack be quick".
A standard for direct marketing has been - and still is - case history
stories. Where you tell a story to make a point. To support your case.
And testimonials. Where others say nice things about you that you share
with your potential marketplace. Both - cases and testimonials - are a
version of Pass-A-Long. Use them.
And get involved in the "E" world, too. Pass-A-Long your own
added value story through all channels available. Remember, word of mouth
is again a strong form of marketing.
P #11. Your Position in the marketplace is important
Some feel Position is only for the big boys. Not so.
Your size is not important to your Position. You could be a single location
dry cleaners and hold the leading Position in your city. You could be
a collection of mid-price range family restaurants, and known through-out
your region. You may be a small company, providing a niche business market
a unique service. Not available from other companies much larger than
you. In each instance you have "the" Position.
Position is many things ... including image and awareness. How you are
"seen" by your audience. Are you at the top of the ladder -
- in the middle - - toward the bottom?
Know, for a fact, you are somewhere. Like it or not, you have
a Position. Because your audience put you there. "Where" you
are is not nearly as important as you recognize where you are. And act
and perform like you belong where you are.
What if you don't like your Position, and wish to change it - can you
do it? Sure. Although it will take resources, the many resources of time,
money, people. As most often you have truly "earned" your Position.
You don't adopt a Position - you earn it. Over time. To change
it will take time, too.
Your Position in your marketplace may make the difference between making
it, or not. Know your Position.
P #12. PRACTICE - Practice - practice ... TEST, Test, test
Something nearly out of fashion is Practice. The word for the collection
of thoughts covering testing and measuring.
Okay, let's cut to the quick; why Practice? Because you will learn what
your audience expects. You will learn how to reach your marketplace with
the best offer. You will experience "live" examples with real
customers making decisions. In real time. You will know, not guess, what
gets you a buyer, and what loses you an order.
Let's define Practice. Let's start off with what it's not; it's not another
way of marketing. And when you are not successful, it is not failure.
Instead, when you Practice you learn a lesson. You understand, even thou
you may have thought otherwise, your buyers are thinking "this way".
Or "that way".
To Practice is to WOW your marketplace. Because most of your competition
is not. They are not asking, listening, understanding, responding. You
are. Others are just "doing". From the gut. Instead, you are
testing, measuring, and going back to market with what you know. Because
your audience told you.
PRACTICE - Practice - practice.
P #13. The final measure is Profit!
The real bottom line is Profit. Did you make it - or did you not.
Eventually, you must make a Profit. This is not an option. It
is mandatory. Period. PERIOD! Without Profit you can't support the local
Boys Club. Or contribute to the hospital. Or make a donation to United
Way. Or Save the Whales. It may not be "sexy", yet without Profit
not much of anything happens.
Marketing is hard work. Fun ... still, work. To have it work to the max
- to work hand in glove with sales - takes resources. It takes time to
think. To plan. To organize yourself for marketing success.
And there is no short cut to the final measure ... Profit. It takes the
dozen points noted here, all working together, to give you Profit. Know
that. Do it. All of it.
That's it. Let's close with a fast summary. As you go through the process
of planning your marketing programs, and then as you revise, revise, revise
them (as you will!), think the 13 "New" Ways to Look
at the Planning Process;
P #1. People
P #2. Product
P #3. Passion
P #4. Purpose
P #5. Performance
P #6. Potential
P #7. Place
P #8. Price
P #9. Promotion
P #10. Pass-A-Long
P #11. Position
P #12. Practice
P #13. Profit
My best marketing wishes to you.