Rigorous marketing planning is an essential component of good business management, but it is rarely easy to implement.
This is particularly so when the business is in its early stages of evolution, when the market size, and characteristics can not be defined, or when the true value of the offered product or service is difficult to assess.
General marketing material is often directed towards consumer marketing, with a further bias towards fast moving consumer goods, and although the principles are the same in business to business marketing, the examples are not as informative and the applicability may not be obvious.
The Galbraith Muir Consultancy has used the well-established techniques of Malcolm McDonald (Cranfield) as a foundation, and has adapted them to take account of the uncertainties and intangibles often evident in new, high-technology businesses.
Marketing Planning allows the manager to deploy his or her resources to the best advantage. In addition, the approach described here allows the client to target the early product offering to a few, carefully chosen clients.
Early use of marketing planning can also allow research and development efforts to be directed towards exemplifying and strengthening those attributes which customers will value.
The methodology uses the knowledge available within the client’s organisation to start understanding how customers and potential customers might use the envisaged products. This knowledge is supplemented by research, brainstorming, test marketing etc, in order to prepare a detailed, timed action plan for the marketing activities.
What are your products and services?
A technical benefit may seem obvious to the developer, but the true benefit to the customer may be less easily defined.
Who is using it now? And who may use it in the future?
Can you extrapolate from a small range of current uses to find new and attractive markets?
What needs does it serve?
Consider not just the obvious benefits, but also the underlying needs.
Who else could benefit?
Think creatively about where the features of the product and service can provide real end-user benefits.
Where can I try it out?
Do in-depth research to identify early adopters for the products and service.
By the time this process has been completed, the participants should be in a position to quantify the opportunity with appropriate levels of confidence, and to understand the likely value in use for potential customers.
The consultant also supports continuous review and monitoring of progress against the plan.