Managing a business requires a very different set of skills to those needed for planning a business. This can be seen most clearly within franchise businesses whereby-with a good “blueprint”- franchise owners, who do not necessarily posses an in-depth history of business development, can manage very successful, ongoing enterprises.

The blueprint-essentially a definition of the business goals, strategies, tactics and procedures-is developed by subject-matter experts, will have withstood the test of time, and enables a franchise owner to concentrate on leading and managing an enterprise within, and supported by, a proven framework. This is reflected by the significantly-higher success rate of new franchise operations compared to non-franchise businesses start-ups. Planning, then, is a key ingredient in any successful business.

Indeed, the US entrepreneur T. Boone Pickens has a favourite saying that: “A fool with a plan can outsmart a genius with no plan!”

Planning isn’t the only ingredient to business success – but it is certainly the most critical! And of all aspects of business planning, none is more important than in planning the marketing, whose primary purpose is to generate revenue.


Contrary to popular belief, ‘marketing’ is not synonymous with sales or advertising. (Of course, this isn’t helped by the many salespeople who call themselves marketers!) Marketing isn’t advertising – it actually concentrates on strategic growth. That is, it’s concerned with the growth of revenue or, in other words, increasing the income that flows from customers.

As a business owner or business manager you have three basic ways to increase your company’s sales revenue. You can:

o increase the number of customers,

o increase the sales amount generated by each customer, or

o increase the frequency of each customer’s transactions with your company.

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Admittedly, there will always be additional factors that influence the ultimately-realised profit, such as the cost of serving additional customers or in increased distribution expenses. However, recognising how these three basic concepts affect your company will help in understanding the importance of constantly reviewing and analysing your customers’ needs to increase your value to those customers.


The main tools available to achieve one or all of the three customer revenue growth concepts include optimising the product and service mix, correctly identifying and understanding current and future customers, and creating effective communications between the company and its clients. How successful you will be is dependent upon:

o how clearly you understand the motivations of the customers,

o the internal and external constraints within which your company operates,

o ensuring that your customers’ needs are met by your company’s business strategies and business tactics, and

o communicating this to customers as effectively as possible.

Clearly, customer service is a central element in marketing – that is, in meeting customer needs and expectations. This is indeed an essential component of any successful marketing effort and represents the majority of the five key elements of the marketing phases:

1. Identifying who your current and future customers are;

2. Understanding your customers’ needs;

3. Developing or adapting your products or services to meet your customers’ needs;

4. Developing and implementing marketing communication strategies; and

5. Monitoring the effectiveness of each marketing communication strategy, and either improving or removing those underperforming efforts.


Costly errors often occur because time is not initially spent on the critical tasks of researching and understanding the customers. Too many people waste time by jumping straight into the fray and creating advertising campaigns because traditional wisdom says that this is what’s needed to “market” their products or services. Although a traditional advertising campaign might be a valid tool in your endeavour, it should actually be the last step in your marketing process.

Marketing plans are a very effective place to start, and don’t necessarily have to be large or complex documents, although they should address the following key seven issues:

1. What is your company identity? Who are you, and what customer needs do you satisfy? Who is your target market? What is an ideal customer profile?

2. What are the objectives of your marketing efforts? What is your current market position and where do you plan to take the company. How do you intend to get to this position from here? What is the timeframe? What will it cost, and what do you need to do to ensure this growth? What is the size of your market, and what percentage of this market do you intend to capture?

3. How will you achieve these objectives? What marketing tactics will you employ? Why those tactics? Which tactics are likely to provide the highest return-on-investment? How will you monitor the performance and effectiveness of these tactics? Who will monitor, control and, if necessary, adjust those tactics? What historical tactics have you employed? What did they cost and what revenue did they generate?

4. Perform a SWOT (strength, weakness, opportunity and threat) analysis on your company. You could concentrate on comparing your pricing, placement (or distribution), product, promotion, processes, perception, and people with your competitors. Consider what your customers love about you? What do they dislike about you?

5. Who are these competitors, and what are their strengths and weaknesses? What do customers love about them? What do they dislike about them?

6. What is your niche or unique selling proposition? This can also be defined in terms of pricing, placement (or distribution), product, promotion, processes, perception, and people.

7. What is your marketing budget? Is this budget realistic and sufficient to achieve your strategic goals? How does it compare to industry norms?


When creating your main marketing messages, there is always the temptation to focus on yourself, on your internal processes, or on your products. This should be resisted! Instead, ask yourself these customer-centric questions:

o How much do I know about my customers? For example, are there clearly-discernable customer groups who account for major portions of my sales? Are there some groups of customers who are easier or cheaper to deal with than others? Do I have undesirable customers and am I wasting time and money trying to gain their business?

o Why do customers buy from me, and who else are they buying from? Why do they buy from these competitors and not me?

o What benefits do my products or services provide?

o How do my customers find out about my company’s products or services? For example, if you use on-line promotions, where do my customers land after clicking on banner links or on Google Adword campaigns? Do they land on a targeted landing page that gives immediate and relevant information concerning the promotion, or on a generic home page?

o What are my customers dissatisfied with? What can I do to increase my customers’ satisfaction with my company?

o Are there other products or services that I can offer my customers to satisfy their needs? Or, can I optimise what I offer by reducing the number of products and services I sell but still meet my customers’ needs?


Metrics! The wise marketing manager understands the basics of each distinct marketing communications campaign that is used, including the cost and the return (or effectiveness) from each of those channels. For example, do you know which of your advertising streams is generating the highest returns, which are below industry average and, if they aren’t performing, which should be targeted for improvement or removal? Are they providing you with feedback on how your product or service mix should be adjusted?

Don’t allow yourself to be lulled into a false sense of security based upon historical performance. All markets are dynamic, and marketing tactics that worked last year or last month may be underperforming today. Testing, measuring and analysing your marketing efforts should be regular, on-going tasks that allow you to continually validate the effectiveness of each marketing tactic.


Advertising is currently undergoing a revolution. Indeed, the viability of the business model supporting newspapers is becoming increasingly uncertain due to the shrinking revenue base from traditional print advertisement. This has been caused by consumer empowerment resulting from the widespread use of the world wide web, whereby people no longer rely solely on untargeted and mass-appeal advertising to gain product awareness.