Saturday, September 16, 2006

Marketing Calendar 2007?

Don’t you feel that it is time now to discuss the marketing plan for 2007? Didn’t you already receive dozens of invitations to all these September and October meetings to plan marketing for next year? And don’t have all invited parties already the feeling that they are behind schedule? It’s time for the annual game of annual calendar based marketing plans.

I have rarely met any marketer who doesn’t question the sanity of this process, but I have yet to meet the one marketer who is willing to change this process. Why is the approach of calendar year planning antiquated? I give you three reasons:
  • The overall marketing plan should not be driven by company internal needs or processes but by the consumer needs. And the consumer would like to have marketing programs (and therefore plans) that are as time flexible as possible and not decided 15 or 18 months in advance
  • Annual calendar based marketing plans does not correspond to the much more important customer centric time periods like Christmas, Back to School, or the beginning of Football season. It’s not about planning the next year but about planning the upcoming customer centric time periods.
  • In today’s fast pacing consumer controlled world, there is not enough foresight to understand what kind of programs a brand needs to launch or what kind of marketing investments a company needs to spend 12 months down the road

Therefore I recommend implementing four different level of time based marketing planning dimensions:

  • Consumer Season based planning (all depending on particular brand category), eg Christmas, Back to School to scope out rough plan of activities
  • Monthly based planning to fine tune and agree on exact activities
  • Weekly to review and adjust
  • Daily to react with a small budget percentage to consumer or competitive activities.

Such a level of flexible marketing planning will require a much more nimble marketing organizations. This organization will rely heavily on systematic decision processes, data driven decision tools, and will take out some of the pure “feeling or gut” based strategic marketing decisions. But any organization has to keep in mind that this transformation into more frequent and nimble marketing planning only pays off, if the positive variance towards the old model justifies the increasing management costs of a more complex planning. My guess is that it’s worthwhile for 90% of all larger brands.


Anonymous Susan F. Heywood said...

I agree that there are legacy planning processes that are more organization-centric than customer-focused in many organizations.
At the same time, if we know there are certain programs that need planning, we need to keep those processes running as smoothly as possible while introducing new channels for customer conversation and managing to what we learn from them.

Setting goals that include our plans to introduce more customer driven elements in our IMC programs may not be the only way to implement new ideas, but in most large organizations, working with the processes works better than working against them.

Instead of plotting the media buys, why not plan for the customer conversations and identify possible new ways to reach customers and prospects based on what they tell us is important to them?

Just because we create calendars doesn't mean we can't use them to identify not when to run ad campaigns, but when to ad new conversations and when to schedule IMC media buys and messages.

Goaling and scheduling new conversations makes them more likely to happen. Then, based on what we learn from implementing the planned expansion of real customer dialogue we've got on the agenda, we'll be ready to meet customers' real needs when they need them.

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