Everything we do requires some form of planning. There are six simple words that should form the basis for one’s approach to any task. They are surprisingly simple, and yet are often overlooked. In today’s increasingly regulated word, these six words can help you focus critically on what you need to do. The words are: What? Why? Who? When? Where? And How? In many instances, the four most important of these will be What, Why, Who and How. Always be absolutely clear on the Why. But first, let’s consider the context in which these words are so important – the Regulatory context.
Regulations and Codes: We are in an era of burgeoning Regulation, Codes of Conduct, Codes of Practice, Codes of Ethics and costly Compliance, and while all of these have been deemed necessary for consumer protection, good governance and marketing, they too often can become just checklists. They have been assessed as necessary by regulators so as to protect customers from poor practices (e.g., the Central Bank has a precise focus on protecting customers), and also to protect shareholders (just look at the losses to shareholders as a result of the car emissions scandal involving the modification of emission detection systems). And the Advertising Standards Authority (ASAI) also has a focus on protecting customers from misleading advertisements and marketing practices. So any business today needs to be aware of regulation and compliance requirements and these 6 words can help.
Those 6 key words: Let’s now consider the six key elements and what they might involve.
What? What exactly are we proposing to do? What does it do? What problem does it solve? What benefits does it bring or offer? What use is it? Have we thought it through regarding its implications for use by a target client? In the case of a service product which may only come to fruition after a number of years (like a pension plan), have we critiqued the upsides and downsides?
Why? Why should we do it? Why do we want to do it? What purpose does it serve?
Who? Who will actually do it or perform it? Under what circumstances or situations will they do it? Who is it intended for (customer or client)? Will it benefit clients and can we demonstrate that? Is it safe for them?
When? Have we got a prototype of it underway or ready? Have we tested it? Is it adequately and satisfactorily developed? What types of clients is it suited for? All leading to the decision on when you will present the grand plan and the product or service.
Where? Where will the product or service be made available? Through what channels? Will we present it ourselves or we will do it through distributors or agents? Where will we publicise it and how will we do that? What will we say about it or claim about it? Where will it be used or availed of?
How? How will we actually formulate it? How will we promote and deliver it? Through what media or channels? How much will it cost? Have we got the resources needed – money, facilities, skills, expertise?
Things can be very different for the person who has to implement the plan at the coalface as compared to the position of the person who planned it. A company planning a major policy or initiative, which may have varied complexities, needs to prepare well. It needs to think about who is actually going to have to make it happen and how to implement it. Different circumstances can suddenly face the implementer that the planner didn’t envisage or wasn’t aware of. Not to mention the fact that the customer or client may see things very differently.
Remember: Marketing is about satisfying peoples’ needs and wants, so present it clearly to them.
About Ed McDonald
Ed McDonald, Lecturer at the Institute of Technology Tallaght (ITT) & Independent Consultant, Marketing, Advertising, Branding, Corporate Governance, Corporate Responsibility, and Ethics.
Up to his retirement three years ago, was Chief Executive of the Association of Advertisers in Ireland and a Director of the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland, and deeply involved with various media groups such as the Audit Bureau of Circulation and the JNRS and the JNLR. He had previously been Chief Executive of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, prior to which he had been Chief Executive of The Henry Street Mary Street Shopping Centre Ltd., a public-private partnership aimed at upgrading that part of Dublin city centre. Before that, he worked with Gunne Estate Agents, responsible for its marketing development and general management, and worked with IDA Ireland for almost 20 years in a variety of activities, including a spell promoting Ireland while based in the USA.
He has always been keenly interested in behaviour and ethical practices, reflected in him graduating in 2015 with a Masters degree in Ethics and Corporate Responsibility from Dublin City University. He wrote his Masters degree on applying ethical theories to the Irish banking crisis and how a greater focus on practical ethics might have guided the banks. He holds a Masters in Business Studies degree (wrote his thesis on Branding) and a BA in Economics and Philosophy, as well as the Diploma in Arbitration Law from UCD, and the Certified Diploma in Accounting and Finance. He is a Fellow of the Association of Compliance Officers in Ireland (ACOI) and of the Marketing institute of Ireland.
Ed continues a number of part-time teaching and consulting roles. He is a Lecturer at the Institute of Technology Tallaght in Marketing, Advertising, Corporate Governance and Ethics. He also acts as Compliance Adviser for The European Group of Valuers Association (TEGoVA) in Ireland through the Institute of Professional Auctioneers and Valuers, and he is a member of the Institute of Banking and a Fellow of the ACOI where he is a member of its Ethics Committee.
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