Marketing planning

Happy Marketing Planning

Before we know it Christmas will be over, the turkey will have been eaten, I will have recovered from the emotional turmoil of trying to remove the packaging from my childrens toys, and then suddenly bang….. we’re all back at work and it’s the new year.

I am sure there has been some data published that states the first working Monday in the new year is often the most miserable day of the year, Christmas is over, and the mornings are cold and dark. So how can we help ourselves to get back up and running in the new year? Having a clear, simple and measurable marketing plan could be a key ingredient to ensure you bring those new products and services to market, target the right customers, and continue to build loyal relationships with your current customers in 2014.

When I work with my clients on their marketing plans I often get asked, what are the core elements of a marketing plan? A great question, with no clear answer as all marketing plans should differ, it’s a bit like marketing, your marketing has to be tailored to your customers needs, and likewise a marketing plan needs to be tailored to your business needs.

When thinking about your marketing plan there are some key areas to consider, the key five that immediately spring to my mind are as follows;

1-    Your brand and identity – Does it need a refresh, what does your brand mean to your customers and to you

2-     Your customers– Who are they, what are they saying about you, what can you learn from them, who should you be targeting to grow your business

3-    Your proposition and services– How can they be developed, how do they differ to the competition

4-    Communication–  How do your customers want to be communicated to, what is the right social media strategy for your business, where will you target new customers, how should I network

5-    Measurement, How are you going to measure your marketing, how can you learn from what has worked, and just as importantly what hasn’t worked

The most important part of any marketing plan is to keep it simple, how many marketing plans end up in the bottom drawer never to re-appear, so keep it simple, and keep it measurable.

If you would like to have a chat about building a marketing plan for your business in 2014 then please get in touch for an informal chat.

Last but not least, enjoy the build up to Christmas.


Oh no, not another loyalty card….

A few days ago I walked into Costa, and upon ordering my coffee was offered their loyalty card, my immediate thought was, oh on not another loyalty card to join the seven I already have in my wallet, Shell, Booths Supermarket, Decathlon, Nectar, BA Exec Club, and Harrods, ok, only joking about the last one. But this did then get me thinking about the whole loyalty card scenario.

I am a big believer in customer loyalty programmes, what I am not so sure about is if we are getting a bit saturated with how they are delivered, is it time for businesses to find more innovative ways to drive and build customer loyalty rather than just having a card that provides a few discounts. To me it feels a bit like the following happens in building a loyalty programme;

  1. Business thinks, we need to build a loyalty programme, lets have a brainstorm to decided what works best
  2. Business agrees that it is best to get a loyalty card sorted out because that’s what everyone else does
  3. And whilst we are it how about a personalised logon area on our company website that we call My(followed by company name)
  4. Finally let’s send a magazine every 4 months that’s feel personalised but actually is just there to sell our products and services

Surely we now need something new to freshen up how we attract and build customer loyalty, for example could businesses partner more effectively to support their loyalty schemes, there are some good examples of this already with both Tesco, and Nectar, but this is very much on an affinity discount basis. A more radical approach could be for two brands to combine their cards and loyalty programmes into one, look at Shell and Costa for example, an unusual combination maybe, but they are already working together with Costa takeaway machines available in Shell petrol stations.

Ultimately the answer has to come from your customers, and what works best for them, what makes them feel like a loyal customer.  Often the customers answer can be forget the loyalty scheme and just reduce your prices and improve your services, then I’ll be more loyal.

In the meantime I am on the hunt for a larger wallet to find space for my Costa card.

Combinate Marketing specialise in helping businesses develop marketing plans and  loyalty programmes, for an informal chat please contact me at or call me on 07936 884457

5 simple tips for your social media plan

Two of the most frequent comments I hear from business owners regarding social media is, one – I am not happy with my website, and two – I want to be more active on social media how can I approach this. Every business is different and every person leading the business is different so it is important to build a social media plan that is both manageable, you are comfortable with, and delivers benefit. Here are my five simple tips to consider;

1-  Your website, understand what you want you website to do for your business, is it there to reinforce your brand, target appointments, or complete transactions and sales? Be clear on its purpose.

2-  Focus your social media efforts, you don’t need to be on every site, understand which social media is most suited for your business and focus on this to get higher levels of engagement from potential new clients.

3-  Write a personal blog, adding value is the key here, this is not a sales pitch, share your world of knowledge, it builds your credibility.

4-  Get your employees involved, whether it be on your twitter feed, or sharing their knowledge on your blog, this will also take the onus away from you as the business owner.

5-  Don’t forget email, but it must be targeted and personalised, two of the most important ingredients to a successful email campaign, getting the content right is critical.

And finally remember the goal is to be good at business because of social media.

If you have any more tips or comments please add in the comments box above, or drop me an email


Combinate Marketing



Can the Great British Class Survey help your marketing planning?

Earlier in the month saw the BBC launch the findings from the Great British Class Survey. The survey is one of the largest to ever be undertaken in the UK with 161k respondents. The results defined 7 new social classes in the UK and provide a good insight into how culturally we have changed in recent years. Through answering a few questions on the BBC website, I have attached the link below,  you can see what social class it classifies you in, whether or not you agree is probably a different matter!!

The survey also observed that the classic twentieth century class findings and working class sterotypes are out of date, so does this mean we will now see an end to the classic RG scale with the skilled manual workers or C1’s as they have so often being referred to. Surely it is now time to move on from a scale that was devised in 1913.

So can the survey help marketers, well yes I am sure it can. For a starter it has actually being kept simple, in the end there are 7 classifications, and there is nothing worse than an overcomplicated classification model with far too many segments, never a good move and often a reason why when companies build a segmentation model it can be doomed to failure.  The classifications provides a clear and updated account of class in the UK and this can offer vital input into your marketing planning, this may include new proposition development, or helping to understand your target market. I would recommend anyone to visit the BBC website and have look in more detail to understand how it could help your business.

Where the survey may not be able to help is how you actually find your target group, always a problem with any behavioural driven surveys, whilst it has clusters it is not detailed enough for individual targeting so you may have to rely on more detailed demographic models for this. It will be interesting to see if and how MOSAIC and ACORN incorporate this into their models.

Overall this survey provides an excellent insight into how the UK is changing as a nation, as marketers we need to take this onboard and apply into how we deliver our marketing planning.

Take the test yourself, link here