Monday, June 12, 2006

A 23-hour marketing plan

Marketing planning can appear to be a daunting and time-consuming task, but there are ways to streamline the process to make it a quick and relatively painless undertaking (you may even join the ranks of marketing geeks and learn to love it!). describes how to write a marketing plan in 23 hours by breaking the process down into these chunks: taking stock, goal-setting, defining target audiences, research, creating an action plan, budgeting, timing goals and carrying out the plan.

I'm in the process of working on a marketing plan using's How to Write a Marketing Plan tutorial, although I'm substituting the 4 P's portion with SIVA (as I discussed in a previous post). I don't know yet how long it will take to complete the plan following this model, but it does call for a fair amount of detail so I wouldn't call it a quick approach to planning. Despite the time involved in marketing planning efforts, doing so is well worth the time and should, in fact, be a necessary part of library work. There are some things you can do to make process efficient, if not speedy:

Keep an ongoing record of market research and resources. If you read any articles or blogs, collect observations, conduct focus groups, etc., keep the records in a file/bookmark/aggregator so you can refer to them easily when you write up your environmental scan and target market analysis. This is similar to the approach described in's Virtual Anthropology and Trend Unit reports.

Remember that if you are seeking out multiple target markets that require their own marketing mixes (4 P's), then you should write a separate marketing strategy for each. Yes, this can take additional time to write up, but your strategies will be easier to write, understand and carry out because they are more focused. For example, as my plan takes shape I'm focusing on 3 main segments: honors students, first-year students, and faculty who advise or work closely with undergraduates. It will benefit you to review what makes a good market segment.

Take a stab at measures. A library marketing expert told me recently that it's important to have measures but you don't need to get too hung up on this. Take a guess at what a reasonable target and measurement tool could be and see how it holds up. Eventually, you'll get a sense of what your benchmarks are as well as what works and what doesn't.

The most important thing about marketing plans is creating and acting on them. No plan will be perfect, but you'll learn a lot about your organization and your patrons each time you do it and you'll continue to improve. While it feels good to turn out a well-articulated plan, remember too that marketing planning doesn't end once you've completed the writing. You'll always need to continue conducting research, analyzing results and rethinking strategies in anticipation of your next plan.

Update: On a planning-related note, Alane has some interesting thoughts today on avoiding myopic planning over on It's All Good.

Categories: tips_to_try | train_yourself

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