The firm conducted research—a lot of it. It spent years profiling the market. It sent executives to live with families in California to observe how they shop. It built secret test stores and randomly investigated the contents of Americans’ refrigerators.
Last year, after six years of struggling to make its venture a success, Tesco announced it was selling Fresh & Easy. It was giving up.
What went wrong?
Timing, for one thing. Tesco launched Fresh & Easy just before a crippling recession hit. But it also ignored its own research, relying on what worked in the U.K., a very different environment from the U.S.
Tesco made its U.S. stores entirely self-service, which American shoppers found off-putting. It sold food in small packages, while U.S. shoppers like buying in bulk to save money. Its stores sold Tesco’s unknown private brands in a market that is famously brand-conscious.
Basically, Tesco believed it knew better than its research, and the result was a marketing disaster.
Failing to trust the process
This isn’t an isolated example. Communication and marketing professionals skip critical parts of the strategic planning process all the time.
They’re often tempted to proceed directly to a communication solution without engaging in the pesky, time-consuming planning process. While each step in the planning process is important, some steps get left out more than others. Here are five common mistakes made in communication planning:
1. Not identifying an effective goal. It’s difficult to know where you’re going if you don’t know your destination. That sounds obvious, but many communicators invest considerable resources in programs without knowing what they’re really trying to achieve.
For example, a communicator at a manufacturer of personal-care products may try to class="style-5-right">
10 Steps of Strategic Communication Planning2. Research the audience (key stakeholders).
3. Research the situation.
4. Research the organization.
5. Set supporting objectives.
6. Identify key messages.
7. Identify strategies.
8. Identify tactics (solutions).
9. Create and implement plan (with timeline and responsibilities).
10. Measure and analyze results. They also are measurable: Each has a specific metric and time frame. Once the communication plan is complete, these objectives provide a clear way to determine its success.
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