(Last updated: August 2017)
I have worked with many retailers over my 15 years as Chief Innovation Officer at CrossCap, and I wanted to start sharing a methodology that we’ve developed as a best practice to help build and constantly refine a retail omni-channel marketing plan. This framework will guide retailers, large and small, with the steps they need to align merchandising and marketing initiatives and increase the overall return on marketing investment.
One of the greatest challenges retailers face is ensuring marketing strategy and execution is aligned with merchandising. The introduction of new marketing and sales channels has increased the complexity of planning, execution, and analysis. However, a limited, and in some cases reduced, marketing budget needs to support multiple merchandising businesses and marketing channels while yielding high returns.
Some organizations offer to develop or provide marketing mix modeling tools to help you determine how much of a marketing asset you should invest in a business, and at what time, through reviewing historical data. These models simply provide recommendations and should just be used as a guideline. The market is constantly evolving with new channels and marketing tactics at the same time business needs are evolving rapidly based on market conditions. Models that rely solely on historical data cannot address evolutionary effects in the markets, customer segments and new business strategy.
Through the next few weeks and with several articles, I will share a planning methodology that allows retail organizations to become flexible in planning and executing marketing initiatives. This is a methodology that applies to a new age of marketing where mobile, online and social channels expect swift and targeted execution while supporting traditional marketing channels like TV, Circulars, Direct Mail and FSIs.
Each article will be divided into several topics that will drive you from the highest level of planning, through execution and analysis. These are the topics I will cover:
Strategic Planning: Usually performed at an annual level, helps define a fiscal year’s marketing and merchandising strategy based on several factors including new business focus, last year performance, insights and competitor strategy.
Category Planning: Performed during the seasonal planning cycle allows marketing and merchandising to feature categories that are in season and allocate marketing assets based on what would be top of mind for their customers.
Item Planning: Typically performed at a weekly level for each media by selecting the best product candidate or offer for a featured category. This allows the production and execution team to determine what products will be advertised in the different marketing channels.
Marketing Execution: One of the most complicated processes in the entire cycle, as production and execution tasks vary based on the marketing channel. This phase can be very far out from delivery for mass media channels like TV, Catalog and Circulars or can be extremely close to delivery and in some cases just-in-time based on demographic segmentation for digital promotions like mobile, web and email.
Marketing Performance Measurement: Establishes effectiveness for all marketing initiatives to understand what worked and what didn’t work. Every channel will have its own metrics to evaluate success or failure. The key is to have a framework in place and to always measure performance with quantifiable metrics.
Refining Strategy with Market Response: This is the phase in the cycle that ties back marketing performance and competitor strategy, and allows the retailer to refine their strategy and adapt to market conditions. In some cases known as key takeaways, each marketing initiative provides insight on what worked, what didn’t, what did our competition do and how can we improve the effectiveness next time. This information is crucial for the next planning cycle (annual, seasonal and weekly).
I am hoping to complete these posts in time for retailers to take advantage of this methodology and apply it to their next year planning process and would be pleased to hear how it has helped improve effectiveness.
Depending on the complexity of your omni-channel marketing plan, proper tools can come in handy in helping you become more efficient. We have researched and put together a guide to marketing calendar & planning software features and explained the benefits of each to help you better navigate this software market.