Tag Archives: PESTLE

Nicola Peaty

Why write a marketing plan?

By Nicola Peaty

The purpose of any plan is to document important information and decisions which can help to focus on the direction in which you aim to pursue. A marketing plan maps the steps a company must follow in order to achieve its business objectives and goals.

The planning stage gives a company the opportunity to review its current status versus its aspirations. By identifying gaps between where you are now and where you want to be, will make you question many aspects of the business and the market in which you are trying to compete.

The good old PESTLE analysis and SWOT analysis stand the tests of time, because they allow a company to review the most critical factors affecting the business. Even though we all believe we know our markets so well, there is always room to assess any changes, new influences and competitive dynamics, and understand how these may affect our company and what it is trying to achieve. (See our Top Tips http://www.vgandassociates.com/top-tips-swot-pestle/)

The marketing plan focuses the key stakeholders on the fundamentals of the business: the current proposition, positioning, product offerings, company methods and strategies, target markets and marketing activity, and then consider the need for ways to improve or change aspects which will in turn, endeavour to meet the company objectives.

It is vital for a marketing plan to contain specific and realistic objectives and controls. That way throughout the year, a company can measure its performance closely and adapt accordingly, without too much variation and deviation. All departments from sales to finance and operations to marketing, must feed into the review process of the marketing plan. This is crucial so that a. the plan maintains to be a living document and not just forgotten after the initial plan is agreed, and b. a company can stay on track to achieve the goals it agreed at the outset.

Even though a company may have to dedicate specific time for the key management to implement the initial plan, it will provide a clear direction and coordination for all functional areas. It will also help to assess current resources and re-allocate where necessary. And, by agreeing the priorities, goals and strategies, the marketing plan should help to motivate a team and give a benchmark for effectively measuring progress and success.

Go to http://www.vgandassociates.com/dont-look/ to download the VG&A Marketing Planning Brief Template.

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Nicola Peaty

Top Tips…SWOT & PESTLE

By Nicola Peaty

SWOT and PESTLE are planning tools which have stood the tests of time due to their simplicity and effective output. When developing a marketing strategy, both tools allow an organisation to gather information on fundamental areas of the business as well as the market in which it operates, which in turn aid critical strategic decisions.

SWOT is an acronym for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. The SWOT analysis considers internal factors of a company – what it can and can’t do well, together with external factors – what and/or who in the market could affect the company, such as competitors and the wider business environment. 

By determining these facts, a business is better placed to identify whether or not it is in a good position to take advantage and achieve its objectives (due to its strengths and opportunities), or whether there are obstacles which need to be addressed before objectives can be achieved (due to its weaknesses and threats). To gain a genuine idea of strengths and weaknesses, it is important to research a wide range of key players such as customers, suppliers, business partners, employees and heads of departments. Both positive and negative feedback must be considered to give a real picture of the company and its operations, especially compared with all potential competitors.

The same key players can be consulted when gathering information regarding the threats and opportunities. They should be able to give insight into people, organisations and competitors which may affect and have an impact on the business.

Threats and opportunities can also be determined by gaining some market analysis of the wider business environment. This is where the PESTLE tool comes into its own. The acronym ensures a company considers vital external factors which can have huge influences over the business. PESTLE is an acronym for Political, Economical; Social, Technological, Legislative & Environmental.

Any one of the above could have significant effects on a business if there were any major changes, which in turn will affect how a company operates, delivers, prices, promotes and develops its products and services. New laws, cultural trends, a recession, green issues, new technology, a change in political party could all influence both what and how a company functions and therefore must be considered when planning any strategic decisions.

SWOT: Some considerations…

SWOT

 Strengths: (Internal factors / Positive attributes)

  • What are we good  /best at?
  • What are our USPs (unique selling points) which give us competitive advantage?
  • What specific skills does the current workforce have that can give help meet company objectives?
  • Do we currently have good resources in order to deliver company objectives?
  • What are our relations with key influencial players eg suppliers, partners, alliances?

Weaknesses: (Internal factors / Negative attributes)

  • What are we bad/worst at?
  • Do we have limited skills/expertise?
  • Do we have limited resources/technology?
  • Where do we lack good relations with key players?
  • How / where does the competition beat us?

Opportunities: (External factors / Positive attributes)

  • What changes in the external environment can we exploit?
  • What weaknesses in our competitors can we use to our advantage?
  • What new technology might become available to us?
  • What new markets might be opening to us?
  • What new laws have allowed us to operate in a new way?
  • What new trends have allowed us to exploit our product / service?

Threats: (External factors / Negative attributes)

  • How could our competition exploit and hurt us?
  • What new laws might damage our interests?
  • What social changes might threaten us?
  • Will the economy affect our pricing policy?
  • Could new technology mean we get left behind?

When carrying out a SWOT and PESTLE analysis it is crucial that all facts and gathered information, via formal research or informal feedback, is documented and collated together. It is at this point that a company needs to identify critical factors, make strategic decisions and formulate a plan of action with measured controls in place. Exploit the strengths and opportunities and protect and build on threats and weaknesses. This should provide the solid foundations and give direction and position to a company and its business proposition.