Why strategic planning matters more for SME businesses

04 Sep, 2017
By Malcolm Cupis

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I was recently asked what the most difficult professional challenge I have faced in my PR and marketing communications career has been. I’ve been lucky enough to have worked for some big agencies on some highly recognisable brands and many people generally assume that big budgets and the commensurate expectations that go with them present the most taxing tasks we are likely to face.

In my experience, nothing could be further from the truth.

When you boil marketing communications and PR down to its fundament, what we are in the business of doing is communicating for businesses to raise awareness and generate positive perceptions, so that customers know that they exist and believe their company, products and services to be the best to invest in.

Working with blue chip companies and well recognised brands is far from the greatest challenge, because general awareness is high and perceptions invariably positive. At that level, launching a new product or service is less of a challenge because of the strength of the corporate brand behind it.

The toughest challenge comes from working with smaller businesses with far more limited resources, especially if the product or service targets a crowded market, or an established dominant competitor brand.

The immutable truth is that it doesn’t matter how brilliant a business, product or service is. If markets don’t know that the business exists or don’t understand what makes the product or service outstanding, then it will never be commercially successful, no matter how good it is.

The success or failure of a campaign in this instance hinges on the strategic planning, long before the tactical implementation. With limited resources it is absolutely vital to target the audience with pinpoint accuracy and to understand them well enough that you can encapsulate the proposition and the benefits of the product or service succinctly in language that you know resonates with them.

Only then can you identify what channel or channels will be most effective in delivering those messages to those very specific audiences within the constraints of the budgets available. If you get this right then the tactical implementation becomes a far more straightforward process and it becomes highly realistic for even small businesses with restricted resources to punch above their weight and reap the dividend of a highly successful campaign.

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