Strategy planning and implementation methods
Tourism marketing is an exciting activity. We also know that marketing can be a stressful activity, especially when asked to prove the worth of marketing activities or to justify the budget & spending by the CEO. More so, someone anonymous has famously said, “You cannot manage what you cannot measure”. So do not worry; we’ve got you covered.
In the simplest definition, marketing is concerned with conveying the value of a product or a service offered by a firm through a variety of activities to a potential customer. This in turn, generates a demand, ending in a sale for that product or service. In a nutshell, marketing triggers demand, and demand triggers sales. Marketing, just like other business activities should be planned, and a planning cycle usually follows these following four stages:
The first stage is concerned with the current situation, and the second stage is concerned with the desired positioning for the firm or its products. The strategy emerges out of the gap between the first two stages and informs a strategic direction. The third stage, “How do we get there?”, simplifies the strategy into attainable goals, and sets objectives and targets to measure marketing activities to reach the desired positioning. The fourth stage, “Are we getting there?”, measures the marketing activities in relation to the goals and analyzes if the planned activities are helping accomplish the strategic vision. This analysis helps create the new “current situation”, and the planning cycle repeats itself.
It is crucial to continuously pursue marketing activities in this planning framework as it helps a firm to be innovative and remain competitive in the marketplace. The importance of planning for marketing is indisputable. However, it is equally crucial that the baseline created to measure your new marketing results is suitable for your firm or it’s offerings due to the uniqueness of each entity. The three steps to measuring your success are: a) Define success: KPIs, b) Track your performance, and c) Measure your performance against the KPIs. They are discussed more in detail below:
- Define success: the key performance indicators
Since the marketing strategy and activities will vary from business to business, it is essential for a business to define what “success” means to them in practical terms and how it will be measured. This means, that a firm should design key performance indicators and set relevant targets for each. A key performance indicator (KPI) evaluates success of a particular activity. Therefore, depending upon your Marketing initiatives, key performance indicators should be designed tailored to your needs.
To design a KPI, one should ask two questions: what is our strategic or operational objective by pursuing this activity, and how do we know that we are meeting that objective. For example: If the operational objective of a business is to reach 25-30 year old market for sales to a theatre dinner via Facebook ad, the KPIs will be “The number of 25-30 year old consumers reached via Facebook ad”, and “the number of tickets sold to consumers in the age category of 25-30”.
- Track your performance
Upon defining success, one should ensure that proper metrics are in place to track your performance overtime. Once again, the metrics will vary activity by activity, and they will need to be customized in accordance to your KPIs. For example, your sales system can generate a report on the 25-30 year old market to see how you performed and Facebook metrics can inform how vast your reach was. Another example is an excel spreadsheet to track your social media reach. See example below:
However, depending on the KPIs, new tools and methods of data collection will be required to track your performance.
- Measure your performance against the KPIs
Once you input the data into the tracking system, you can compare it against your KPIs to see the progress and/or if the marketing efforts have materialized. This step is the moment of truth as it informs the new “current situation”, and takes you back to the stage 1 of the continuous planning cycle. This step allows you to understand which activities worked and which ones did not, you can uncover trends & patterns, see if the strategy you set out to achieve is feasible and working, or if the firm needs to rethink the targets or the key performance indicators. The results from the analysis inform new choices for the firm, which are vital for maintaining competitiveness in the market.
In summary, a firm needs to define “success”, design KPIs, track their performance as needed, and measure it to see the impact of the marketing efforts.
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