10 questions to test your marketing plan

Marketing whizz or marketing fizz?

How strategic is your marketing?

10 questions to stress test your current plan.

You’ve just finished your 2021 planning and you’re pretty confident in the plan you have in place. And sure, every company says that it has a marketing strategy in place, but how good is it? And how can we stress test it?

A recent research by marketing academics Les Binet and Peter Field, summed up here, shows a steady decline in marketing effectiveness over the last decade, which coincides with a rise in short termism exacerbated by a digital revolution that has enabled us to measure activity in real time. Add to the mix the findings that only a quarter of marketers in the UK have formal marketing training, and we start to see some problems.

So back to your plan. Just how strategic is it? Is it marketing whizz or marketing fizz? To find out, we’ve put together 10 questions to stress test your marketing strategy.

“The marketing whizz or marketing fizz test”

1. You can’t describe your market to me in numbers and behavioural groups.

If you don’t know the size of your market (number of potential customers) and its value (how much that market spends on the category product/service in a year), and your share of that market (how much they spend on your product/service), then how can you work out your objectives?

Similarly, within that market, there will be distinctive groups with different buying behaviours. If you don’t know who they are then how do you know who to target?

This process is called segmentation.

It enables you to slice up your market into groups and decide which group is worth spending time and money attracting (targeting).

2. You don’t do research

You may as well throw away the whole plan, because if you haven’t done the homework to find out what the market actually looks like and how it thinks and behaves (as opposed to what you think it looks like), any efforts will be at best like a shot in the dark. There are a number of ways of doing research that can provide meaningful results without re-mortgaging your house and the results will inform your strategy and tactics, and repay themselves 10-fold.

3. You’re targeting Gen Z

“Deeply committed to the redemption of social imperfections, they have taken on a vast commitment towards a kinder, more equitable society; they are markedly saner and more unselfish than their elders.”

Gen Z right? Wrong.

This is a quote from a 1965 edition of Time Magazine, and it’s talking about Baby Boomers. Don’t confuse behaviours that are typical to a particular stage in life with something deeper. The very idea that a group of people are homogenous in the way they think, live and act by way of their date of birth is ridiculous. Just think back to your last year in school and the clans that existed within that small microcosm and zoom out.

Segment your market based on actual behaviours and choose a target group that makes sense to your business.

4. You can’t sum up your brand on a page

We all like to talk about ourselves and think that we are somehow special. Truth is, people are busy and they don’t really care. The same is true of brands. If it’s worth remembering, then it should be captured on a page. Two things to include:

  • What you stand for – the brand promise/DNA/values/beliefs.
  • What makes you distinctive to your customer – your brand codes.

5. You have vague strategic objectives like “grow brand love”

One word for you. SMART. Only possible if you have done your homework and know your target market. If you can apply your goal to another part of the business, or worse, another business, then the goal is not strategic.

6. You don’t know the figures in your purchase funnel.

Funnel, loop, cycle, the names change but the principal is the same. Understanding the % of your target audience at each stage of the purchase journey as they move from “unaware” through each phase to product or brand advocates gives you concrete figures to work with, and improve on. It will inform your SMART objectives.

7. You’re “doing” social media

You’re on social media because, well, everyone else is and it’s free right? Having a clearly defined target audience will tell you where they hang out, and by consequence, where you should spend your marketing efforts (time & money). Time is money after all.

8. You talk about “digital” marketing

Great if your business is still operating in 2010, but digital marketing is no longer a thing. It’s all marketing. Aptly summarised by Diageo’s CEO Ivan Menezes “It is not about doing ‘digital marketing’, it is about marketing effectively in a digital world”. You have a plan and you choose the most appropriate tools to deliver that plan.

9. You know how much you’re spending, but not how much business your plan will generate.

Colouring in department or as per my experience “the people with the cool stash”; we rail against this definition, but many of us are incapable of illustrating how we contribute financially. There is light at the end of this tunnel…if you know your market (segmentation & targeting), and you have SMART objectives in place, then you should be able to calculate the estimated incremental value your plan will bring to the business. Don’t get dragged down my single channel attribution, it needs to be cumulative. More on this later.

10. You don’t have brand tracking in place

Understanding the % of your target market that have heard about your brand (brand awareness), and what attributes people associate with your brand (salience), enables you to measure the effectiveness of your efforts and inform future strategy.

So, whizz or fizz?

Congrats if you’re a whizz, but take heart of you ended up a fizz. You are not alone. In fact, when considering that 85% of exec teams spend only 1 day a month discussing strategy, it’s understandable that many plans are strategically flawed.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, then there are flaws in your strategic planning that we at Ambiquity can help you with.

Get in touch with us to have an initial chat and find out how we can help.