Tips for marketing planning in an ever-changing world

11 November 2014| by Clare Russell

For many of us, October to December represents one of the busiest times of the year. In parallel with attending both regional and international events, we are embarking on planning and budgeting for the year ahead. This can be a stressful time, with pressure to have plans finalised and ready to kick-off at the start of the New Year, to ensure sales momentum is not lost. It can be tempting to short-cut the process by taking the previous year’s marketing plans and tweaking them for the year ahead without sufficient time being invested into analysing the previous year’s activities.

Don’t assume that your market is, and therefore your activities should be, the same as last year. Take a little bit of time to use research to evaluate your audiences and understand your position. While the prospect of comprehensive analysis probably fills you with dread, it doesn’t need to be complicated. Here are a few tips on some simple research you can carry out.

  1. Target audience

Talk to your sales and after-sales teams. They are at the front line of your business and are talking to your customers day in, day out. Get their feedback on the different personnel they deal with during the sales and after-sales process. There tends to be many people involved in and influencing the purchasing process, ranging from clinicians, bench scientists, biomedical engineers, laboratory managers, hospital directors and procurement. Your team should have a clear view on the motivation of the different audiences and this will help to shape your marketing messages and tactics for the year ahead. A roundtable discussion, combined with an online survey will help to clarify your target audiences and key messaging.

  1. Competitors

Again, your sales and commercial team will have a clear picture of the other products or services your customers and prospects are considering during the sales process. A roundtable discussion and/or online survey will provide feedback on why a competitor’s product or services may have been chosen over yours and vice versa.

In addition, take the time to talk to just a few customers/partners to stay in touch and engage with the market. This will help you to understand whom they see as your competitors and how you are perceived within your competitive landscape.

This can provide essential information on your, and the competition's, perceived strengths and weaknesses. Again, this can feed into your marketing plan for the year ahead and help define your messaging.

  1. Analytics

Nowadays there is a plethora of marketing data available to give valuable insight into how people are interacting with your business. It is vital that you comb through this years’ campaign data to define the following:

  • Are you driving sufficient traffic to your website?
  • Has traffic increased/decreased month-on-month/year-on-year?
  • What is driving spikes in traffic to your website?
  • Are you generating sufficient leads through your digital marketing activity?
  • What do your conversion and bounce rates look like?
  • Which digital marketing campaigns have generated the most leads?
  • What content is generating the most traffic/leads?
  • Importantly, are you nurturing your customers and prospects with high value content and targeted communications to match their position in the buyer’s journey?

Once this initial research has been undertaken you will be adequately armed to set marketing objectives, outline your strategy, define your tactics and set your criteria for the measurement of success.

Image: Shutterstock/Sergey Nivens

At BioStrata, we understand the pressures you are under at this time of the year. If you are looking to evaluate your previous year’s marketing activity and analyse your target audiences and positioning, but are running out of time, do get in touch with us.

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