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The 4 key sources to seek insights for marketing planning

Author's avatar By Danyl Bosomworth 15 Oct, 2013
Essential Essential topic

Are you looking in the right place for ideas generation?

We recently launched our Plan to Succeed campaign and as a part of our Slideshare deck we feature a whole bunch of ideas to help marketers improve their planning.

One factor in effective marketing planning is building up strategic ideas around which you can build a plan - these are specifically customer problems to solve, or outcomes they are seeking. As the brand representatives, we all too often explore in the wrong areas to seek answers to those questions, or focus in on a single area. We created this simple graphic to help you find the sweet spot.


We feel there are four dimensions that provide a starting point for strategic planning:

  • Your brand: This is the where marketers are most likely to start, and unfortunately end, their thinking. It’s what matters to you, the brand owner or representative. And, given the sales pressures faced by many marketers the temptation is to get lazy with product or sales promotion based thinking. This gets one dimensional, stale even, for your customer, as well as dangerously repetitive in your busy market. We do have to link planning and ideas to commercial goals and align with those brand values though, so we're not saying ignore this, just appreciate that it's one of four dimensions.
  • Your customer: This will hopefully be your start-point, and if all you do is consider where their problems, unmet needs, motivations or outcomes cross over with those of your brand, you’re already headed in the right direction. We’ve called this the immediate opportunity. There are no short-cuts here, though. It’s serious work to define the problems, hopes, fears and aspirations of your customer - but it’s far from hard to do. Here’s our tip - design strategies that work in the service of your customers, this ultimately benefits you and provides scale way and above selling your product/service based thinking.
  • Competitors: This is the most common pitfall. Although it’s inherently valuable to have a good understanding of what’s driving competitor success within your market, we called this what can we learn, it’s of no use to copy that, it becomes "undifferentiation". It’s so obvious to say this, yet look at how many of your competitors copy tactics, campaigns and promotions. We see it in the similarity of websites and campaigns within many sectors. A road to ruin, surely? Certainly a road to getting lost in noise.
  • Trends: Progressive businesses understand what the future might hold, or at least attempt to understand. What innovations might be there for our brand based upon what we understand might change - and crucially what is very unlikely to change, which is arguably just as powerful to consider strategically. In-depth customer research also reveals new insights fresh from your customers - you can capture this by asking them the right questions and monitoring consumer behaviour in a myriad of ways.

It's also worth looking at models to help explore customer trends in detail where you can.

This template by Trend Watching is particularly useful here too. More on how to use it here.

Trend Canvas

Where do you start with your strategic brand planning? As ever please share your ideas and reactions in the comments below. If you've not already, do take a look at our Plan to Succeed Slideshare.

Author's avatar

By Danyl Bosomworth

Dan helped to co-found Smart Insights in 2010 and acted as Marketing Director until leaving in November 2014 to focus on his other role as Managing Director of First 10 Digital. His experience spans brand development and digital marketing, with roles both agency and client side for nearly 20 years. Creative, passionate and focussed, his goal is on commercial success whilst increasing brand equity through effective integration and remembering that marketing is about real people. Dan's interests and recent experience span digital strategy, social media, and eCRM. You can learn more about Dan's background here Linked In.

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