The Marketing Plan Development Process Flow

I’m going to continue posting the materials from my online course entitled The Marketing Plan Seminar so that my followers can get a feel for the kind of work that I can do for them on a consulting basis. If you can’t wait for the installments to be posted you can order the complete course at at any time. In the mean time, I hope you will enjoy each small installment and please do give me a call if doing so triggers something for you where I can be of help with an Instant Strategy Session or working with you longer term with the Monthly Mentoring Mode.  Enjoy!

The Marketing Plan Development Process Flow

The Marketing Plan Seminar - Slide5
This image goes with the accompanying video that is part of the online Marketing Plan Seminar. This is slide number 5.

This slide illustrates the seven major steps in developing your overall marketing plan. There may be intermediate or sub-steps required during plan development but these are the major ones. Have a good look and a good listen to this one. It is critical to your marketing planning success.

As you can see from the diagram, it’s important to consider both external input — from customers and market and competitive research — as well as your own internal constraints. But don’t let internal constraints alone limit your thinking. There may be ways around them that you’ll come up with as you develop your initial thoughts and plans.

Once the preliminary analysis is complete it is time to kick around the pros and cons of each idea and home in on the actual recommendations that will be implemented as tactics in your overall marketing plan. And don’t forget to include the mechanisms to periodically measure the results of your strategy so that you can continously adjust and fine-tune it based on what’s working and what’s not working as well as you’d planned.

Version 1.0

Version 1.0 IllustrationI have to say that the number of comments I’ve received about my posts about the WOW customer experience has been gratifying. Some comments have related to the need to get things to market now and letting quality and functionality follow, which I find incredibly short-sighted in the majority of cases, while others have agreed with me about the need to get things right the first time if you want to avoid headaches in customer support down the road or the actual failure of your company due to bad product reviews.

The best comment, however, came from my good friend Peter van Geijn in Munich, Germany. His company sponsored my seminars and workshops in Germany in the 1980s and he recently reminded me of the story I used to tell about Version 1.0.  It goes something like this…

Did you know that the only people who never miss a development schedule milestone are software design engineers?  That’s right, software engineers. If today was the day they were supposed to deliver the product, today is the day that they will deliver it. It will be called Version 1.0.

It will be missing a lot of the originally specified functionality, of course, since there was no time to implement it all during the unrealistic management-dictated, all-too-short schedule, but it will be delivered today.  As Version 1.0.

It will also like contain a large number of “undocumented features,” known in the old days as “bugs,” that will have to be addressed in a future version release. But it will be delivered today. As Version 1.0.

Marketing and sales people hate Version 1.0 because it makes selling the product successfully more difficult and causes customers to complain to them — a lot. It also makes it difficult to get early testimonials and delays the purchase of large quantities of the product until the bugs are worked out.

Designers don’t mind. They keep cranking out new code and patches for the bugs. Sometimes it’s great job security and other times it isn’t. If it isn’t there’s always the next product for the next company to be developed.

Customer support managers love it for the job security reasons as well — subject to the risk of no job at all if the product can’t be fixed in time to save the company.

If the product was developed with OPM (other people’s money), top management will get rich in any case and move on to start another company where they can dictate another unreasonable schedule for a product that must do everything, cost nothing and be done yesterday. It is called Version 1.0.

I’d love to hear your experiences with products that fit this mold. Please share them and thanks for reading.


Some Further Thoughts on Creating the Customer WOW! Experience

A few weeks ago, on July 26th to be exact, I posted a written rant about how a meeting I’d just been to was concerned not with creating an initial WOW experience for customers but instead with damage control and reputation repair.

As some colleagues and I prepare to launch a new product and set of services, we have frankly been tempted more than once to “jump the gun” and start looking for fans, connections and clients before we’re really ready. Especially since there are some upcoming large networking events where we think we could get a lot of leverage and create a lot of buzz. Think the equivalent of trade show deadline for new product introduction.

We have, and I believe properly so, decided not to jump the gun on this as you’ll hear in the video embedded in this post. Even though we know we’re going to miss more than a couple of great opportunities to promote the new stuff, we think that having the infrastructure in place to create a real WOW! experience when we do introduce is worth any small loss of prospects in the short term.

Think about it.  It takes a long time to build a great reputation. It takes a very short time to ruin one. I heard again very recently that it takes only one “dumb s**t” to wipe out ten “atta boys” and I believe it.  So we’re going to take the time needed to get it right.  Website, social media, collaterial materials, markets, messages and media combinations. Tough as it is to wait, it is the right thing to do.

After all, do we really want to send the message to our potential new markets that we don’t have the patience and professionalism to do the kind of job for ourselves that we will be promising to do for them? I don’t think so. What do you think?

Burnt Toast

toaster with toastThere are lessons in the art of making toast. It’s different if you make it for one or two people on a weekend morning where you can watch the toast brown or when you know your toaster’s characteristics intimately from many years of use than if you make millions of pieces of toast to sell to consumers who’d rather not buy a toaster and make toast themselves.

Once upon a decade, a process specialist and quality guru named Deming tried desperately to warn America’s manufacturing sector that they were at risk from foreign competition, and especially from competition from Japan, if they did not begin to pay attention to improving product quality through better process control . But America’s manufacturing firms were not interested in hearing tales of doom. They were doing just fine, thank you.  So Dr. Deming went to Japan. And the manufacturers there really listened.

If you read my previous blog on the customer WOW! experience, you may know where this is heading. The American companies had process problems making perfectly browned toast. If it came out too light, though, they simply put it through the toaster again to get the right color. If it came out too dark, they had machines that would scrape the toast until it looked to be the right color. All of this rework and extra equipment and processing was expensive, of course, but the toast was eventually good enough to put on grocery store shelves. And price wasn’t an issue. They were the only ones offering toast to consumers in the grocery stores.  They could charge what they pleased.

The Japanese, on the other hand, had figured out how to toast the bread to the right color the first time, every time,  through careful control of the toasting process.  No secondary steps if it was too light and no processing through expensive scraping equipment if it was too dark.  Just right the first time. Higher consistent quality at consistently lower manufacturing cost. So much lower cost, in fact, that they could afford to ship it all the way to America and put it on store shelves at a slightly lower price than the toast sold by the American companies.

Guess who’s companies prevailed in the marketplace?

This is a true story. It is critically important to spend time, effort and money early in the design phase of a product, and the design of the process by which it will be duplicated in a manufacturing environment, if you are going to be successful long term in your chosen marketplace. The same is true for your marketing efforts.  Don’t they deserve careful research, planning and strategy development before you spend time, effort and money on tactics?  Of course they do.

Whether you do it yourself or get outside help, do it as right the first time as possible, measure your results, fine tune as needed and get that perfect shade of toast at a price your customers will love. Mmmm.

Your comments, as always, are welcome.

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Keep It Simple, Please

I just saw a commercial for a new car (whose manufacturer shall remained unnamed – but it begins with a “C”) that talked about integrating all of the functions that used to be discrete buttons, knobs or slider controls in the car into a tablet-computer-like interface. And that reminded me of my old electronic design for testability preaching days where two of the key tenets were control and visibility.

The drawing below on the left represents and typical audio control panel in a car. The drawing below on the right represents what future ones will undoubtedly look like whether we like it or not.  What’s the difference?


In the example on the left, you can turn the audio system on or off with the push of one button.  You can select AM or FM by pushing one button. You can scan or seek stations with the up and down Tuning buttons, stick a CD in, adjust the balance and the fade and the volume. Very simple, very straightforward, all functions visible and easily controllable.

What about the example on the right? First you have to find the audio system menu. Then select radio. Then select AM or FM. Then go back to the top menu to select Balance or Fade.  The CD track previous and next buttons do double duty as the radio tuning down and up functions. And you can’t even find the volume control! Functions invisible without detailed knowledge of how the system works, or lots of trial and error or practice, and control impossible to achieve without multiple actions to get to the right places.

Do you call this progress? It violates all of the principles in Donald Norman’s book The Design of Everyday Things and everything I taught to design engineers about human interfaces. I think you’d be much more likely to have an accident trying to adjust your radio using the example on the right than the one on the left.

What’s this got to do with marketing, you ask? A lot, as it turns out. If you try to cram too many messages into your marketing communications vehicles you are only going to confuse people and make it much more difficult for them to reach their buying decisions. Clear, concise, easy to understand single messages — Save, Get, Solve, Gain, Avoid, etc. — are much more effective. Pointing out and even repeating a single benefit in multiple ways is preferable to including a laundry list of features just because the technology let us do that.

Does this make sense? Let me know what you think. I’d love to share your insights and experience with others and I’m sure they’d enjoy reading about them.