Strategic Marketing Planning for Printers (Part III)

Developing George Jetson’s Strategic Marketing Plan

George JetsonWhen we first encountered George Jetson a couple of weeks ago, he was literally stuck on Astro’s treadmill outside the Jetson Printing Company, but also figuratively stuck on another treadmill inside his own organization.  The market for his company’s products has changed and George has been drawn into the details of keeping things running. Like many print company owners, George spends too much time working for the business and desperately needs a way to flip the situation and make the business work for him once again.  Specifically, he needs a plan to change his business and his position in the market.

This is Part 3 of a 4 part series on Strategic Marketing Planning for Printers.  We’re only discussing the marketing component of the change that George’s business needs.  If George is smart, he’ll create a new business plan with financial projections for Jetson Printing going out for at least 2 years.  The assumptions we’re making in the strategic marketing plan for Jetson Printing should also be included in the financial projections of a complete business plan.

List of GoalsSo far, we’ve worked with George and his team in a series of brainstorming sessions and they’ve generated and prioritized five goals for the coming year.  In last week’s post, we began to develop each of the goals, identifying Strategy and Tactics for each one. Remember, strategy is the the overall plan and includes the specific tactics needed to accomplish the goal.  As George and his team considered the tactical details required to achieve their objectives, they realized that they needed some outside help and re-prioritized a couple of their goals.  This kind of flexibility is required, both as the plan is assembled and during implementation when it becomes obvious that some of the strategic or tactical assumptions just aren’t playing out.

So, here’s where we left off, with strategy and tactics mapped out for each of our 5 Goals.  We’re developing the Jetson Printing Company plan in a Google Spreadsheet.  Just click on the link or the image to see the whole thing.


This Week:  Budget and Timetable

You’ll notice that we assigned responsibility for each of the tactics last week.  This is extremely important for obvious reasons.  When no one is specifically assigned to a task, it generally doesn’t get done.  There has to be some accountability for implementation but also some consideration of workloads and capabilities during the planning phase.  (Note: if you take a look through our plan for Jetson Printing, you’ll see that George has taken on a lot of responsibility. He’s capable and he’s the owner, so some of the tasks he’s claimed make sense, but if there’s a breakdown in implementation, it’s an easy guess where it will occur and who will be responsible.)

We’re ready now for the next phase, budgets and timetables, and we’ll simply continue to develop our spreadsheet as we plug in budget estimates and plan the sequence of execution for our tactics. Let’s look at a few considerations:

  1. What can we afford? What’s the overall budget?
  2. What needs to happen first?
  3. How are the workloads going to be distributed?
  4. What’s going to get in the way and when?

Affordability and Investment

We haven’t talked much about affordability and cost up until now.  While it’s advisable to take overall cost into consideration in the initial goal-setting and strategy sessions, cost shouldn’t limit the discussion.  Usually, there are both low-cost and high-cost tactics that can be used to accomplish an objective.  For printers and small businesses, some costs are simply out of the question.  For instance, hiring a Madison Avenue agency to “fix the problem” isn’t in the cards, nor would it be a wise solution for Jetson Printing.  Hiring DP Marketing for a day or two each week makes plenty of sense and fits the budget.

There’s one important question that needs to be asked during the planning and budgeting phases.  It’s an easy one, “what do we expect to get from this?” There must be an expectation of Return on Marketing Investment to justify each tactic.  To make it simple, there must be a reasonable likelihood of an increase in profit that is larger than the marketing expense.  Otherwise, the expense isn’t worthwhile.  When we talk about measures next week, this is ultimately the key metric.  To take the discussion one step further, we want to choose and continue to implement tactics that are the most efficient.  We want to select and favor the tactics that get the biggest bang for the buck.

At this point in the process, George and his team will do some research and try to assign real numbers to each tactic, with the understanding that some tactics can be scaled upwards or downwards and that a few might have to be discarded in favor of others that are potentially more efficient.  When values are assigned to all of the tactics, the entire budget can be adjusted to match financial resources and cash flows.

Sequence: What Needs to Happen First

You’ll note in the spreadsheet above that one of the tactics we identified for Jetson Printing’s goal of Increasing Customer Retention and Loyalty (Goal #3)  is to begin to collect personal data on a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) System.  There’s just one problem.  Jetson Printing doesn’t have a CRM.  It just so happens that selecting and installing a CRM is one of the tactics for Goal #4, Start a Lead Generation Program. Obviously, the CRM is critical to both efforts, but it really belongs with the lead generation program.  We’ll keep the CRM in Goal #4, and delay the implementation of the tactic in Goal #3 until the CRM is in place.

Determining Workloads

The question of who does what will also impact the sequence of implementation.  George will be wrapped up with the research involved in our Market Assessment (Goal 2), so there’s no need to involve him in much else early in the year. Likewise, the marketing assistant that will be hired as part of the lead generation program envisioned by Goal 4 will be responsible for developing content and starting the publications calendar.  These activities should start at the end of the year, after the marketing assistant is on board.

Obstacles and Opportunities

Even with the best planning, it’s inevitable that the exigencies of running a business are going to interfere with the implementation schedule.  Take known business fluctuations into consideration during the planning phase.  If August and the back to school months are the busy time, scale back the activity planned for those months.  Conversely, if June is slow, use some excess capacity to get a lot accomplished during the slack time.

Putting It All Together

George and the Jetson Printing team have accomplished a lot this week.  They’ve put together a budget and a schedule for each of the Goals that they’ve included in their strategic marketing plan.  Here’s what Goal 3 looks like now:

Budget and Timetable for GoalYou’ll notice that expenditures have been budgeted by month for each tactic.  The tactics are color coded to indicate the timetable for implementation.  Each column is totaled by month and these figures are used to put together a budget synopsis that looks like this:

Budget Spreadsheet TotalsIf you dig into the spreadsheet, you’ll see that Jetson Printing now has a complete annual budget for their marketing plan, a timetable for implementation, and a projection of cash flow needed each month to implement the program tactics.  This is a good working model that can be used both to adjust timing and costs and to stay on task as the plan is implemented.

What’s Left?

There’s one more key area that we haven’t discussed. Measures or metrics are absolutely mandatory to keep the strategic marketing plan on track and to enable analysis of the success or failure of the tactics employed. Next week, we’ll discuss some of the challenges of measurement, including what data to track, how to track it, and why inferred conclusions are sometimes necessary.

The Last Part

contactbuttonDP Marketing Services provides marketing services and support for printing companies. Part of our mission is to help our customers plan their marketing program and execute it with consistency. We hope you’ll take a look at our website while you’re here. If you’d like to talk about your business, we’d be most happy to get in touch. The first consultation is absolutely free and there’s no pressure. You can contact Richard Dannenberg by phone at 478-719-4029, by email at, or you can click the button to fill out a contact form here on the website.


Photo attribution: Hanna-Barbera, pilfered from the Internet. Forgiveness asked in lieu of permission