Profit eluding you? Try a long-term, well-communicated marketing plan


This is the third in a series where I have advocated for an expanded vision of the marketing mix that embraces several additional and obvious, yet undervalued, strategic factors necessary for success today.

Many media companies today have addressed the traditional four Ps (price, product, promotion, and placement) of the marketing mix. They have developed a robust array of digital and traditional solutions for both advertisers and content consumers (products).

For the most part, they have priced them competitively. And they have communicated their availability comprehensively (promotion and placement). Yet success eludes them.

In today’s media environment, there are too many competitors offering comparable solutions. Successful differentiation and positioning relies on an expanded definition of the marketing mix.

My December blog post urged marketers to recognise that success today and in the future is rooted more than ever on the human resources, talent, and workplace culture (the fifth “P” – people) of your organisation.

Too often, marketing strategists overlook the acquisition, retention, and currency of the strategic human resources necessary to conceive, develop, and execute the other elements of the mix.

Earlier blog posts have also dealt with the organisational culture necessary for these resources to thrive and fulfill their (and your organisation’s) potential.

In January, this blog post reflected on the efficacy of relationship marketing (the sixth “P” – partners) in forging a sustainable success strategy with all the members of your value chain – suppliers/vendors, clients/ customers, audience, and community.

In our quantitative, data-driven world, too many of us overlook the value of the qualitative relationship. Those of us who have worked with concepts like lifetime customer value and customer centricity should “get it,” but it is all in the execution.

In other words, I have observed that while plenty of people talk the talk, few actually walk the walk.

This time around, as promised, I will discuss the seventh P – plan – and how it leads to the realisation of the eighth P – profit.

The plan is a creature of the organisational mission/vision and is intended to be the overarching guide that keeps the organisation on path to the ultimate goal. The plan is inextricably tied to the expression of goal or destination of the organisation.

While for the sake of alliteration I chose to call the goal profit, even government, non-profit, or charitable organisations seek a beneficial outcome. Profit is as good a name as any other.

There are two major complications to following the plan and achieving the goal, profit:

  1. Change: The pace of change and innovation has accelerated to the point that many would say that long-term planning is an obsolete concept. They claim that the organisation becomes a slave to the plan, and that the plan cannot be dynamic enough in today’s environment.

    I respectfully disagree. Yes, short-term goals often change and the tactical means to achieve goals change even more rapidly. You might say that the concept of business evolution has given way to business mutation, because technological and behavioural changes are too sweeping, dramatic, and often traumatic to be described as evolutionary.

    Yet, a well-stated, broad goal definition is adaptable, and planning should be an ongoing rather than static process.

    My favourite example of a mission statement/goal definition for teaching purposes was actually part of the inaugural speech of newly elected U.S. President John F. Kennedy: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth.”

    The goal, the deadline, and the parameters were clearly but generally defined and left plenty of room for adaptability and innovation. In fact, pursuit of the goal required adaptability and innovation.

    Equally important, it was aspirational and inspirational, and motivated an entire nation to unity of purpose. Everyone knew what the goal was and everyone supported the pursuit of that goal.

    Twenty-five years ago, the mission statement embraced at the newspaper where I worked was: “We will be the pre-eminent producer, aggregator, and disseminator of content for and about our marketplace, its residents, communities, institutions, and businesses, on every delivery platform and in every media format economically and technologically viable.”

    In essence, while the Internet was still nascent and print was still supreme, leadership at a newspaper organisation had the vision and foresight to be platform agnostic and embrace the broader vision of being an information utility.

    The mission/vision was clear, yet, like Kennedy’s moon mission statement, left plenty of room for adaptability and innovation. Twenty-five years later, the plan continues to morph but the outcome or destination is still relevant.

  2. Communication: The second obstacle to success is wrapped up in one of the traditional four Ps of the marketing mix, promotion. A major failure of short-sighted organisations is the failure to communicate and promote the plan internally to the people who are expected to execute it and achieve the profit destination.

    In some cases, the decision not to share the plan is actually intentional, but all too often it is a matter of poor execution. Even in many cases where individual members of the organisation know what their responsibilities/roles are in making the plan a reality, they don’t know the big picture.

    They consequently don’t understand the “why” of what they are doing or the “why” behind seemingly incomprehensible organisational decisions. They question whether leadership is competent, or, for that matter, is to be trusted.

    Lacking an understanding of organisational direction/destination, individuals and even departments choose different, divergent paths. Failure to bring every member of the organisation up to speed on the plan and profit undermines unity of purpose and morale, introduces conflict, and dilutes the effectiveness and success of the organisation.

I could continue to expound but am in danger of engaging in a rant. Let me summarise with my patented marketing mix formula:

ƒ(Product)+ ƒ(Price)+ ƒ(Promotion)+ ƒ(Placement)+ ƒ(People)+ ƒ(Partnership)+ ƒ(Plan)


I hope you all have found your marketing mix formula for success as well. Why not share it with us?

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