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The Objective of a Marketing Plan

The Simple Objective of a Marketing Campaign
A Technical Marketing article by Jeffrey Dobkin

The function of marketing is to present goods and services to people who need or want them, and entice them to buy. This includes alerting people that your product or service is available, showing prospects its features and benefits, and creating an easy way to respond to an offer they won’t want to refuse.

In a broad sense, marketing is one of the three phases of any business, the other two being operations and finance. Sales is a part of the marketing arm, as is advertising. Advertising is knowing what to say, marketing is knowing where to say it. Sales in not marketing. The sales manager does not become the vice-president of marketing, he becomes the vice-president of sales.

The beginning of marketing is determining the industry entrance barriers, investigating the industry pricing strategies and setting prices. It’s also examining the media and its costs and relative effectiveness. Marketing is also finding and analyzing the competition, discovering the scope and depth of the number of people who wish to buy your goods (your marketing universe), the saturation level of people who already own it, and the maturity of how long your product has been around. Marketing includes the function of the selection of additional products to sell, along with the selection of distribution channels in which to sell them. All the while the marketing department should be keeping an eye on making a profit.

Most importantly it’s the marketer’s primary job to satisfy customers enough for them to purchase, then: to come back and purchase again. The final marketing function is to earn the privilege and the trust of having customers refer other customers and their friends. If your customers don’t come back, or you don’t get good referrals, your product or your marketing stinks, pick one (or both). This one fact separates the good marketeers from the great marketers. Getting repeat business and getting referrals are two of the lowest cost, most effective ways to market both goods and services.

The objective of a marketing campaign is to correctly identify the individuals or groups of people who are the most likely to purchase your goods or services – so you can promote your brands to them. The better you are able to define your best potential customers, and separate them from everyone else, the more effective your marketing campaign can be.

Let me put it this way: the better you are at defining your target group, the more effective you will be at reaching them. Consequently, you’ll waste less money on the expense of advertising – and trying to sell to highest yield of people who aren’t interested in purchasing your goods and services. Thus, the better your marketing, the lower your marketing costs.

This “market research” phase of investigative marketing is where we separate the “not interested” and the “can’t afford it” along with the “not quite ready” and the “unsure” and cast them into one group called “expense.” Then we take the “we’d like to purchase” group and put them in a holding pattern, dousing them with constant reminders of our products, our brand, our offer and good will and keep them close at hand, while we actively turn our immediate attention to the “We’re ready to buy, here’s our money!” group. We sell this last group something, as our first priority. Cash flow is the first name of any good marketing campaign.

Danielle Adams Publishing LogoBut the party’s not over, yet. If the campaign is a good one, the marketing plan should focus on the best places to find more clones of these “most likely to purchase,” folks and the “We’re ready to buy, here’s our money!” groups and assess how they can be reached most effectively (i.e. at the least cost.)

For example, if I was introducing a new· product and found that the local sheet metal workers here in Philadelphia were purchasing it in good quantity, the first place I’d look for more sheet metal workers in other cities. I’d probably start in the “Sheet Metal Workers Association,” and in the magazines that serve the sheet metal industry. “Sheet Metal Working Today,” and “Modern Sheet Metal Times” magazines would make my job a lot easier, faster and cheaper.

If we say a market is “fragmented,” individual buyers may be scattered across the country, or across many industries, without a way to reach them as a group through a selected set of magazines, industry trade shows or other mass-media avenues. In this case, perhaps they can be defined by an SIC code, or targeted and reached through a direct mail list — so they can be reached individually at their doorstep through a mailing. Now we look for the most focused and targeted mailing lists, custom designed and further enhanced to the specific defined criteria of our target group.

It is through the medium of direct mail that we can really tighten the selection criteria parameters that defines our best and most focused target niche from the entire marketing universe. So if we were looking for people with diabetes we might be able to reach them through “Diabetes Today” magazine. But if we were looking for people with Type II Diabetes in their early stages, we might be able to find a mailing list of people with Diabetes with an overlay for “Type II” and an additional selection overlay of “early stage.” Depending on our product usage parameters we may wish to select even more overlays such as gender, or if our products were expensive, income.

Direct mail, when executed correctly, can be used with the precision of a surgeons knife to extract perfect prospect models from the masses, who often range from the pick of the litter to the vague and disinterested. Direct mail is an example of one of the hundreds of ways to get the message out to viable prospects-and if selected carelessly, others.

Selecting a great mailing list is always a tough and thankless job.  It’s not like creating a fun and glitzy brochure with which you can dazzle others. It’s hours in back rooms sorting through data sheets and internet databases filled with poor reporting and outright fabricated data.  Trying to separate the true from the false isn’t easy and the road is fraught with many ways to go wrong and only a few right paths.

The marketing department of a company selects the medium in which to contact and acquire customers. Common ways of mass media advertising include TV, radio and newspapers – which are used mainly for consumer offers because of their broad reach.

Newspapers. A great advantage of newspapers is their high density of coverage of a geographic base. Since they can be used effectively for geographic marketing local shops, stores, fairs, museums, places of interest and restaurants can get the word out to their own local prospects.

Newspapers can be surprisingly effective on a national basis for direct-selling as well. Here, newspapers ads are purchased across the country at highly discounted rates for remnant space by firms specializing in purchasing discounted media. Deals can be as good as 80%, 90% and in some cases 95% off list!  Successful ads can be run until they fatigue – sometimes years down the pike.  Discounted ads are standard quarter page or half page, and can be run in selected cities across the country.  Since getting maximum discounts and buying the right ads at the right price takes heavy experience, we place ads and run campaigns for some of our clients.  It isn’t pretty work: entrenched in refutable data and shitty deals along with some scary vendors to select from. Not for novices, but the savings can definitely be there.

Magazines – One of my favorite ways to dredge for marketing data as well as to place advertising print ads are magazines.  Magazines are classified as either trade or consumer publications, and as such may be used to market both trade and consumer products.  Industrial magazines, and specialty consumer magazines have a unique ability to penetrate a specific industry or market niche with good reach and depth. For example, there are about 50 publications that go the motorcycle industry, half are retail going to consumers, and half are trade magazines going to dealers, accessory shops, manufacturers and so forth. They are further broken down into sport riding, road riding, dirt biking, racing including road courses and drag bikes, biker lifestyle, and choppers.

Computer geeks, who often don’t get enough satisfaction from just owning a computer, generally love to get whipped into a purchasing frenzy to buy yet the next and latest model highlighted in the computer trade magazines. I say that because there are over 450 different magazines sent – each and every month – to the range of computer-industry personnel. Too bad about your new machine: as it touched your desk for the very first time it was already obsolete.

Trade shows are usually industry specific, and tend to be industrial in nature, although some big shows span several industries and attendees can be a mix of consumers, dealers, distributors and reps. That not-with-standing, both industrial and consumer marketing through shows is prevalent in a core of industries. Who hasn’t heard of the Auto Show, the Boat Show or the Home Show? There are over 10,000 trade shows staged around the U.S. each year. These are great for face to face information gathering, face to face selling and tightly qualified lead generation. I’ve never been to a trade show I didn’t like, or didn’t learn something from.

While I don’t like getting unsolicited calls – there are types of campaigns for which telemarketing is very effective. The telephone is probably the most effective instrument of sales – a tool that is generally much better than a sheet of paper sent in an envelope. But, telephone calls are more labor intensive and expensive. While I can mail 5,000 pieces of mail in a few days right from my office, I’d be hard pressed to have more than 20 to 30 calls an hour from each staff member. One commonality amongst our staff: we all hate the phone.  Some people are good at it, though, if you maintain the mentality that no means next and calls are made in succession.  There’s nothing like a personal sales call from you or your staff.  Rep firms that are common to most industries are often assigned a morning a week as telephone time.

While there’s a good bit of shake out, the Internet really has changed the face of marketing.

As if the previous wasn’t enough, now we have to suffer through fields of spammy e-mail, affiliate marketing and storms of continually popping-up ads on the Internet.

It’s the people in the marketing department who decide which features and benefits turn-on the people in each distinct market niche. Their interpretation of data from research, their experience, or sometimes plain old seat-of-the-pants judgment leads the department heads to judge how best to approach each group of prospects with which advertising medium to make them respond. The marketing department also selects what the offer is, what size ad should be placed and most importantly and where. Which magazines to place ads, which adwords to buy, what TV markets, what newspaper groups, which mailing lists to rent, the criteria to judge and rate each advertising medium, and how many different ad vehicles to test.

Jeffrey Dobkin

Jeffrey Dobkin

In most firms the marketing department directs the PR department and determines which magazines and newspapers should be sent press releases for publication consideration; and in fact, the structure, nature, scope and depth of the press releases campaign.

The company marketing gurus decide how to construct the press release campaign to get the most response, and whether to cast a tight net to get fewer but more-qualified prospects, or a loose net to get more but less-qualified suspects. Then the marketing department devises the offer and what the respondent gets – whether it’s a free sample, call for information, write for information, bingo card response (reader service card), stop in store, buy one get one free or any of a myriad of ways to make the potential customer speak out in some way to let us know he may be interested in our products or services. The customer speaks by alerting us of his interest so that we may give him further and more detailed information in an effort to induce him to buy. Or the customer can actually cast his or her vote on our marketing correctness by purchasing the product.

The marketing function also includes setting price through the use of various pricing considerations. There are hundreds of ways to set prices, and thousands of formulae – of which only a short handful are correct. I personally feel the price should be high enough to generate a profit, add some cushioning for growth, and still allow the sale of your products in a competitive marketplace. In direct marketing it is the market that sets the correct price – and it’s the testing that will reveal the best sales level at the most profit.

Price consideration is determined by 1. if the market is price sensitive or need driven 2. how long the order processing cycle is 3. how long till we can deliver 4. the repeat buying cycle 5. how often the customer will purchase 6. what it costs to reach each customer (CPM) 7. the customer acquisition cost 8. the cost of each inquiry (CPI) 9. the cost of each sale or Cost Per Order (CPO) and finally, 10. the lifetime value of a customer. I also like to to find out if customers can get comparable products anywhere else, what is our market’s perceived image of our quality, who is the price leader and are they vulnerable to a price attack, and can we leverage our market position to a price advantage. Of course in direct marketing it’s much easier: test mailings determines the price. Same with the internet – testing determines price.

Keep in mind that the cost of marketing additional products goes down considerably from the costs associated with the sale of your original products. In fact, if you market other products, your marketing costs may at times be close to zero. Most often, your very best prospects for buying additional products is someone who has just purchased from you, especially if they are happy with their original purchase and your products and services. They are my most favorite marketing target group – satisfied customers – as they are usually the most likely to immediately purchase again from us.

So marketing then, is a system to deliver your message to the maximum number of the most interested people, to produce the maximum number of sales at the lowest possible cost and at the highest amount of fair profit. Then, the function of marketing is to sell the purchaser something else (cross sell) or establish him as a repeat buyer by making sure he is a satisfied customer, and feels good about his purchase and about our firm. Hummm, perhaps all the rest or marketing is bullshit?

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Bio – Jeffrey Dobkin is a writer, a speaker and a direct marketing consultant. Call him with questions: 610/642-1000. Dobkin is the author of five books and over 250 articles on marketing and direct marketing which have been featured in more than 300 magazines. His books are available in selected bookstores and from the publisher, Danielle Adams Publishing, Box 100, Merion Station, PA 19066. Call TOLL FREE: 800-234-IDEA.  Don’t forget to sign up for our email newsletter list – a very sporadic mailing of new articles, offers and some fun stuff, too.  If you liked this technical marketing article, you might like this technical marketing article also:  An Unusual Way of Determining Market Size.