The Marketer’s Survival Guide to Business Planning Season

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    October 10, 2019

The Marketer’s Survival Guide to Business Planning Season


Depending on the day and the news outlet, the economy is up … or down. From tariffs to changing media costs, the current geopolitical environment offers no guarantees for business planners. So how can you get ahead of the curve? For starters, if you work in home and building products, you’re in the right industry.

During the recent Home Improvement Research Institute (HIRI) Summit, Houzz Principal Economist Nino Sitchinava said that if you consider factors such as home age, home value, homeownership age and confidence, home improvement “might be the luckiest industry there is in this economy.”

Here are some things for marketers in the home and building category to keep in mind this business planning season:

1. In spite of varying outlooks, the economy is in pretty good shape.

    A recent U.S. Census Bureau report found that poverty levels fell for a fourth consecutive year, dropping to a prerecession low (Forbes). Meanwhile, the mean household income passed $63,000 for the first time in history, and the number of people employed in the United States is expected to increase by almost 2 million in 2019. Additionally, CNBC reported that consumer confidence is up, with close to a 5% increase in retail spending expected this holiday season.

    During its annual summit, HIRI, the only nonprofit organization devoted to home improvement research, anticipated growth in DIY activity among homeowners, fueling optimism. Furthermore, Houzz’s Sitchinava shared that an aging housing stock is invigorating the industry. Meanwhile, boomers are driving big-ticket spends.

    2. With careful planning, you can get ahead of potential issues.

      Proactivity is the name of the game. For example, accelerated media planning can help overcome a potential media inventory shortage or future cost increases. On the other hand, if you know you will need to pass a price bump on to your customers to offset increased tariffs, you may want to adjust product messaging to amplify key product features and benefits. These points of differentiation can shine a spotlight on product value despite the increased cost.

      3. You probably don't have to reinvent the wheel.

      Probing questions can help gain insight into specific product or service sales performance. Ask yourself:

      • Can you simplify your go-to market strategy and pick one or two initiatives with the most viable opportunity to focus on?
      • Which products offer the highest margin?
      • Are key product categories lagging in sales?
      • Can you proactively shift some promotional emphasis to products that perform better in soft markets?

      The answers to these and similar questions can help you decide if you should reallocate media or creative assets to provide additional support.

      Meanwhile, looking deeper into your business can uncover additional ways to achieve revenue numbers, namely by supporting your sales team. Examples include methodical, strategic and prioritized solutions:

      • Target direct marketing to top trade prospects
      • CRM activities for pros and consumers
      • Lead generation and conversion programs

      4. You can always have a plan B.

      We don’t have a crystal ball, but we can all still support and fuel business through highs and lows. Take these steps to maximize opportunities.

      • Choose agile digital channels to help safeguard your campaigns so that you can shift your dollars and focus as needed more easily.
      • Lean into organic social media to help compensate for potential reductions elsewhere.
      • Create a slush fund for opportunistic initiatives.

      5. ROI forces us all to ask tough questions, and that's a good thing.

      Today’s marketing teams have increased pressure to make measurement paramount. Return on investment isn’t a nice-to-have — it’s a standard cost of doing business.

      Push for KPIs first and pull them into initial conversations before a campaign ever goes public or even gets created. Based on your goals, identify tools and metrics to ensure the work performs at every level — and that you can continually capitalize on untapped opportunities.

      6. You don’t have to do it alone.

        A good agency partner acts as an extension of your marketing team. Your mindset is their mindset. Your stress is their stress. Strong agencies can think and plan alongside key marketing stakeholders, and they have the fortitude to plan and forecast against their clients’ marketing budgets, staff for them and work together to accomplish goals.

        At Wray Ward, getting ahead of the curve is our priority. How can we plan earlier — 18 months or more in advance? Can we work together to select top goals? Have more frequent conversations, in turn becoming more agile?

        With careful planning, you can transform even your most difficult business challenges into powerful creative solutions.

        Explore more articles from Wray Ward.