How do I manage my marketing campaign?

My company runs a line of energy drinks for sports people and gym goers. We sell online, by mail order and in selected outlets, and have done well in our first four years. I have promoted the business through PR and targeted advertising to date. However, I plan to up the ante over the next year using a £350,000 marketing budget. Can you advise me on our campaign and how we should prepare the business to react to an upsurge in demand? Also, how do we gauge which parts of the new campaign are working?


A. Alysoun Stewart of Grant Thornton writes:

As this is a crowded market, it’s vital that as you increase your exposure there is clarity in the brand proposition. So you need to be crystal clear about the point of difference for your brand and about which consumers are to be targeted. This will then provide you with a framework for decisions on how best to spend your marketing budget. Sponsorship from high-profile individuals can be very effective in building profile combined with advertising in relevant locations. However, trade activity to kick-start sales may be a more cost-effective route.

The key is to make your product accessible to as many potential consumers as possible, whether in large chains of leisure clubs, wholesalers or among multiple supermarket groups. If your campaign opens with trade activity, the evaluation of how much stock you will need should be straightforward, using sales data from the new channels of distribution. The next tranche of monies can then be used effectively with a greater proportion of funds being spent ‘above the line’ in future.

But is your business ready to handle the upturn in activity that should result? Are your staff equipped to take the business to the next stage and focused and rewarded correctly? Are support and back office functions sufficiently effective and robust? Is the business properly funded, particularly if you plan to trade with powerful customers who will squeeze your working capital?

Accurate forecasting is important (but difficult) and contingency plans are vital, so make sure that you build some sensitivities into your thinking to handle and evaluate the different scenarios that could arise. Flexible production and distribution options, perhaps involving third parties (mindful of quality control) are essential so as not to risk product shortages or high costs of holding stock.

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