The Marketing Bureau

Specialist Marketing & Communications Resourecs



Preparing Your 2012 Marketing Plan?

11 Questions To Ask Yourself

By Michael Carney
First Published in
Michael Carney’s Marketing Week

An interesting and useful insight into some of the issues that you will need to address in your Marketing Planning courtesy of Michael Carney.

What lessons did you learn from 2011?

How did your organisation perform last year? How closely did your plans model reality? As Prussian Field Marshall Helmuth Carl Bernard Graf von Moltke (the Elder) noted back in the nineteenth century (paraphrased a bit), "no battle plan ever survives contact with the enemy". Or, as Marvel Comics supremo Stan Lee once wrote, "life is what happens to you while you're making other plans". so 'fess up: how murky was your crystal ball in 2011, and what Black Swan surprises did you encounter along the way?

What's happening this year in the life of your target consumer?

It was a tough old year for many, as the Global Financial Crisis collided with earthquakes, tsunamis, mudslides and other unexpected events. Despite that gloom and doom, consumers still display surprising rose-tinted optimism when predicting their own futures twelve months out, even while they're still up to their gumboots in alligators today. So how resilient is your target prospect right now, what are her hopes and dreams for 2012 and how can you tweak or otherwise reposition your product or service offerings to meet her current needs?

How good, bad or ugly is your market sector expected to be in 2012?

Time for a dose of realism. Are customers buying, haggling or keeping their wallets firmly padlocked in your industry sector? Is it time to consider tinkering with your pricing strategies (perhaps looking at Everyday Low Pricing, BOGOF or trying out a Group Deal?), offering time payment, introducing smaller pack sizes or otherwise opting for more affordability for the credit-challenged? Or would you like to sign up for our "Thriving In A Tough Economy" Workshop to learn effective survival strategies in today's environment ?

What Major Events do you need to circumnavigate this year?

We're finally over the Rugby World Cup and the Elections, but what (planned) events do we need to avoid (or attempt to capitalise upon) this time round? Here's a sampling: 2012 sees the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II, marking the 60th anniversary of her accession to the throne (February 6); we remember the  100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic (April 14): nations gather in London to contest the Olympics (July/August); and the nearly-endless U.S. presidential process occupies most of the year in the land of hope and glory.

It's 2012, do you know where your customers are?

Are they hanging on Facebook, meeting up via Foursquare or chatting to Leighton on the radio? Will they be spending more or less time reading the newspaper and the gossip mags in the Year of the Dragon? Will they be signing up for the new Sky/TVNZ pay TV service Igloo, or will they be caught by surprise when their TV fades to snow on The Day That Digital Kills The Video Star? Media habits are changing -- do keep up with what your customers are watching/reading/writing/hearing.

What current trends will impact on your business this year?

Not sure? Don't know where to look? For a monthly briefing on emerging consumer trends, insights and innovations, head to and sister site For links to seven sources which will give you an instant report on What's Hot in Social Media, start here.

Have you networked with your peers lately?

Stop interrogating your keyboard and get talking to your colleagues, suppliers and competitors. Apart from any vertical networking opportunities within your industry, consider attending functions from organisations such as the Marketing Association, the Chambers of Commerce, the EMA and other business groups. Online, head to LinkedIn and join an industry-specific group (go local for networking, international for information-gathering). Set up a closed user group for your own organisation on Yammer so you can chat with a more selective gathering of your own colleagues on a regular basis.

What are you planning to learn about in 2012?

A week is a long time in marketing. What happened yesterday that will impact you today (see #7 above for trend-spotting)? How real was mobile marketing when you did your training? Do you know enough about Facebook to put together a truly effective social media brief (unabashed plug for our new course, below)? Continuing Education isn't just a nice-to-have ... in the changing-every-nano-second new millennium, it's simply a survival mandate.

What can you learn from what your competitors are doing?

No matter how bad you may wish your competitors were, the reality is that they must be doing some things right, otherwise they wouldn't have survived this long. So what can you learn from them, and how can you out-imitate them?

Where are you most vulnerable?

Where could your organisation definitely do better, and what are you doing to fix that weakness? If a new competitor suddenly emerged, offering a better widget at a lower price, what could you do to counter it? And why aren't you doing that already? Time for some wargames and crisis scenario planning, before someone out there makes the unthinkable real.

Kaizen. Kaizen. Kaizen.

In the spirit of continuous improvement, identify five things within your current operation that you could do 2% better. Then just do them.

Rinse and Repeat.



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