Nigel’s 6 Steps to Good Marketing Planning

In a couple of weeks, I will be celebrating 36 years working in this wonderful business and I can honestly say that I have enjoyed pretty much every minute of it. I started as a lowly production runner and soon got a taste for the business from the print and production point of view. Having then moved to a larger agency and witnessed my bosses – the account handlers, going out for lunch a lot, leaving on time and driving company cars – I thought this is what I wanted to do. A move to London and a job as an Account Executive was my best decision and it was where my love for marketing and marketing planning began.

All these years later I still get a thrill when we are talking to our clients about their marketing year ahead or a one-off campaign. We always say that you can’t have great communication without great planning which is why when we say that The Dairy is a Marketing and Design agency – we put the Marketing first!

I am often asked if I can distil down all that experience into a simple format – so here are my 6 simple steps to good marketing planning:-

1. Who are you? We all race along at a high speed in our businesses but often don’t spend any time working out exactly what and who we are and why people should do business with us. So think about your brand – be it a product or service and jot down why it is attractive to customers. Make sure it is as good as it can be – often we lose focus as time goes by.

2. Establish objectives. Before any action is taken – set out what you want to try and achieve. Try to keep these objectives simple and realistic. The temptation is simply to state that ‘we want more sales’ which is obvious – but not very specific!

3. Focus your target market. We all want to market and sell to as many people as possible – but the whole world cannot be our target market. Who do we really want to aim at and who do we have a realistic chance to sell to? One of the many wonderful things about the Digital Revolution that I have worked through in recent years is the accountability the various platforms give us. Gone is the old world of simple broad brush advertising to a mainly uninterested audience and in has come the finely targeted approach that we can use to specific, engaged audiences.

4. Establish your Unique Selling Point. One of the hardest things to do – what is it that we really want to say to people? The temptation is to throw everything into a campaign – ‘we sell organic yogurt made only with milk from farms in Sherwood Forest’ … oh, and by the way, ‘we sell organic milk’… and ‘ our range is huge’ …’we have introduced a low fat range’ … and  ‘we have been in business 25 years’…. and ‘did you know you can now order online’ …. Plus ‘we have a delivery service’ ….. Suddenly, our focus has gone because we feel we have lots of stories to tell. This is all good stuff and there is a place for all these selling points on the website – but we need to stay sharp in marketing planning for the ad, direct mail, tweet or e-mailer….

5. Add some support to this. Although we want to focus on one single and strong selling point in our communication – there is room for supporting statements in the body copy. This needs to be exactly that though – support. It is not an excuse to get all the other stories crammed in – if we are leading on organic yogurt from milk off farms in Sherwood Forest, then we can talk more about the farms, the farmers, the cows and Sherwood Forest – but not our other range of products!

Having established the basics and keeping that focused approach, you should now be in a position to create your campaign and use whichever media is most appropriate.

6. Evaluate. Any campaign needs to earn its worth and we come back to the earlier comment that there has never been a better time to be able to track communications work. From retweets, likes and shares, through opens and clicks, to e-mails or phone calls back into the company, we can gauge results now like never before.

For more details on a considered approach to your marketing planning – get in touch – 0115 977 0221 or

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