The 101 of how to make a Marketing Plan

With this piece, we take a look at how to make a Marketing Plan. Over the last few weeks, we’ve invested in understanding the “What” of marketing strategy. Then we understood the 101 of how advertisements are made. Finally, we understood how Product innovation happens. And today, we take a look at the last piece of this 101 Puzzle – that is the “how” of the marketing planning. We send our love and appreciation to Mr Saurabh Bajaj, we’re going to add a few more pieces from him in the coming weeks over varied topics. Subscribe here to get notified.

Marketing Planning Process – an Overview

Once, you have the strategy & the budgets in place, how does one go about allocating resources and building the actual execution plan? How do you decide how much to put in Advertising, Digital, Print, Radio and new age media? Further, there are even more complicated questions, like do I want to put my money in Advertising or Consumer Engagement? What about Digital?

The steps to follow, in making a Marketing Plan are often quite straight forward:

– What’s my Campaign Objective?

– Roles of Various Media Elements

– Mix of Advertising vs Consumer Engagement

– The Marketing Plan – Connecting the Dots

What’s my campaign objective?

This is the part where you clearly understand what you want to get from your campaign. You communicate the emotional and functional benefit your product offers. Now, while there can often be several types of Campaign objectives, the most common ones are:

  • To drive Salience
  • To drive Consideration
  • Or Persuasion

All these objectives sound very similar let’s take at each one at a time.

A Salience plan is usually a ‘maintenance plan’. You already have a strong brand that stands for something unique and you want to use this opportunity to keep the Brand and its proposition salient in people’s minds. So the Salience plans are usually the simplest plans, you chase a medium with the highest reach and the most optimal cost & go ahead and blast your creative edits. So if Lux or a Cadbury Dairy Milk or a Coca Cola wishes to remind you, they will possibly build a Salience Plan.

Related: Take a look at the story of Mondelez India 

The next kind of objectives is when you have to drive consideration. This happens when you need to push just a little harder. So you have a Brand with fairly good awareness but it’s either more expensive than competition or has benefits that are not as obvious. In such cases just sharing of your Brands message may not be good enough. That’s when you start looking at additional media elements to shift consumer behaviour. Hence, a Kellogg’s Breakfast Cereal, Gillette Mac 3 Razor Blades or Tropicana Juice might need to invest here.

Related: Take a look at the story of Paper Boat: It pushed the communication of emotional benefit to improve consideration

And finally, the hardest working plans are those that need to drive Persuasion or impact actual purchase. Definitely, the hardest working plans are required here and action standards for the success of your campaigns are more black & white, in terms of Market Share Gain or Business Lift. So a Saffola World Heart Day, HDFC Life Insurance or an Automobiles Company may be making more of these plans.

Role of Media Elements

Next, we understand the various types of media elements at your disposal and the roles that each of them plays in helping your meet your Campaign objectives.

TV / Youtube: These are usually the highest reach and hence often the most impactful mediums. These are hence usually the lead media elements in any media plan. They offer you the highest reach at the lowest cost, but the engagement, too, is low. As in, they are simply used to send out messages and not get receive messages. You view the content from these media devices, passively without actually getting any direct response from the consumer. These are usually great for Salience Plans.

Radio/ Facebook: Now, these make great secondary mediums of choice and are a great follow up medium to the lead medium. These mediums are often defined as Moderate Scale but High Engagement as you can really engage the audience through Polls, Call in Discussions, encouraging Conversations etc. So if you have a complicated proposition, you can use these mediums to have an engaging discussion. Hence, plans that are driving Consideration usually invest here as well.

Related: Take a look at the story of the Weather company - how the brand reinvented their Digital approach

Print/ Outdoor/ Banner Ads on News Apps: These mediums are usually quite expensive and often only used when you have exhausted your kitty in the first two buckets. These mediums have their specific advantages for example Print is great at providing detailed information about your product like in case of a car or a property purchase. At the same time Outdoor is great at delivering a topical message, say a Range of Diwali Gift offers just before Diwali.

I have elaborately used Digital as a part of the types of elements, as Digital offers a versatile way of delivering the same tasks at mainline media with limited budgets. However, I have always found mainline media choices to be more effective, provided you have the investment scale required to invest in them.

Mix of Advertising and Consumer Engagement

The next piece to understanding is to figure out the mix of Advertising vs Consumer Engagement. While both sound very similar since at the end of the day, both are just about a Brand engaging with consumers. 

However, the real difference between Advertising & Consumer Engagement is that Advertising is about sending out your Brands Proposition onto the consumer. Expressing the Identity of your Brand and giving the consumer a unique reason to prefer your Brand! And consumer engagement on the other hand is about figuring out what your consumer is passionate about & being able to participate in that conversation in a manner that’s expected from the Brand.

Related: Take a look at Brand vs Customer-centric marketing 

Now, Advertising is arguably more efficient and usually the first port of call. It can also be very efficiently executed by Scale mediums like TV & Youtube. This route is also the most efficient in growing Awareness & Brand Recall, especially for young Brands. However, the moment your Campaign objective becomes more complicated or if you need to engineer Brand shift, the role of Engagement grows. Engagement is also a great way of building Brand loyalty and Brand love and hence a Brand that engages regularly have more stickiness in the minds of the consumer.

Related: Take a look at how brands are using AR (Augmented Reality) to improve customer experience
The Marketing Plan – Connecting the Dots

So now let me demonstrate how you will use the above thinking through a set of examples.

  • If you are a large Brand like Lux and you want to keep your Brand Top of your consumer’s mind, you will regularly invest on TV through an Edit which engages the consumer and a creative that enjoyable to watch.
  • At the same time, if you are a challenger brand that needs to disrupt competition, and challenge existing views of the consumer, you will possibly rely on Radio or Digital to shake existing consumer views like Pepsi did in the US through their Taste Challenge where they challenged consumers on blind tasting Pepsi tastes better.
  • Again in terms of the more complicated services like Insurance, Real Estate or Automobiles, the consumer usually demands a lot of convincing, that’s where mediums like Print become very effective, given the amount of information expected.
  • For those times of the year, where you need to drive a massive amount of business in a very short period of time, topical, low scale mediums like Outdoor become very relevant like in the times of Diwali with a large number of Gifting & Clothing Brands communicating their offers.
  • Finally, you remember Ads only if they are really impactful, but a Consumer Engagement that you ever participated in, leaves a lasting impact and hence that’s where a Saffola World Heart Day, P&G Share the Load, Gillette Women against Lazy stubble comes in and can often leave a lasting and longer-term impact that often spurs Brand love & loyalty.
In Conclusion

The Media teams in any organization, play a crucial role in helping the Brand team make and execute exciting Marketing Plans. However the process is always collaborative & always starts with complete clarity on the Brand & Campaign Objectives. These initiatives usually ends with metrics that are studied for business impact and shifts in consumer behavior. However, it’s crucial for marketers to build sustainable long term strategies that can be executed consistently for a lasting long term impact.

The Author

The author of this piece is Saurabh Bajaj, if the piece adds value, head on to LinkedIn, and drop a thank you. You can also share the piece with your best friend on WhatsApp.

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