Hannah Hatchet looked up from the stack of bills she was working through. The evening sunshine filtered through the branches into the Moosepicks office where she and Charlie were catching up on paperwork while their kits played outside.
“What is this bill from Jip Nickel? And who is this guy anyway?” Hannah asked. “I mean, one hundred acorns, Charlie! What did he do for us that was worth that much?”
Charlie looked over her shoulder. “Oh, that,” he said. “I paid that fox to drum up some business for us. He stopped by one day and offered to help.”
Hannah looked skeptical. “And did it work?” she asked. “That is a lot of wasted acorns if we didn’t make any extra sales. Last time I checked, we didn’t have a lot of extra acorns to spend.” She turned to look Charlie in the eyes, but he avoided her gaze and patted her on the back, wishing Hannah hadn’t noticed the expensive invoice.
A sudden sound interrupted the conversation. “Yeee-owww! Stop hitting me! Da-a-d!!”
Charlie scooted for the door. “Those kits!” he snorted. “Why can’t they get along?”
He hoped Hannah would just pay the bill and not ask him about it again. But Hannah brought up the subject as soon as he came back inside after nipping the offending kit on the ear. Hopefully that bit of discipline would last them till bedtime. He would go outside and play Swishleball with them as soon as he finished in the office.
“So what did this Jip Nickel promise that was worth 100 acorns?”
“It was a Mother’s Day promotion,” Charlie said. “I’m not exactly sure what he did. Something to do with handing out roses. He promised that we’d make double the amount we spent. But I don’t think we did. At least, I didn’t see any unusual increase in sales.”
“Sounds like a marketing gimmick to me,” Hannah said. “And we could have used those 100 acorns to make a payment on the warehouse mortgage.”
Charlie thought back to the day the fast-talking fox had stopped by. It had been less than a week before Mother’s Day, and he hadn’t had time to implement any marketing efforts himself. In fact, he hadn’t even thought about marketing for Mother’s Day until Jip suggested it. He had offered to implement a campaign, so Charlie had signed the contract and turned him loose.
I wish I had time to think ahead, Charlie thought. What other marketing opportunities am I missing? And how do I know how much money to spend on an advertisement? Hannah is probably right that I paid that Jip Nickel too much.
The next day when Charlie got back from his morning swim, he saw Porky Pine at the water’s edge. After Charlie finished combing his whiskers, the two competitors got to talking. The conversation shifted to advertising.
“I used to spend a lot of time messing around with different marketing ideas,” Porky said, “but I got tired of it. I came up with a new plan. My plan now is to spend the same amount each month on advertising. I know which ads work the best, so I stopped spending good money on other marketing. I run those same ads every month in the same places and it saves me a lot of bother.”
Charlie nodded. Marketing seemed so confusing sometimes, and the simplicity and clarity in Porky’s approach was appealing. He would ask Fred Squirrel about it.
Fred Squirrel introduces Charlie to a marketing plan.
“I know you are a get-it-done eager beaver,” Fred Squirrel said. “But I think you see the value in pausing and looking ahead. That’s where a marketing plan comes in.”
Charlie nodded, grinning. It was true, what Fred said. He would rather work than plan. But that was why he had Fred—to help cover his weak spots.
Fred went on. “However, for the long-term growth and stability of your company, I think you need a more sophisticated and robust strategy than Porky.”
Fred explained more about marketing plans while Charlie listened. As Fred told it, a marketing plan was about more than making marketing simpler for him. It was about getting more out of his marketing acorns and taking advantage of opportunities. It would keep his resources focused on where they would do the most good. No more big checks to flash-in-the-pan foxes on the spur of the moment, Charlie thought wryly.
“At what times of year would it make especially good sense to buy a Moosepick?” Fred asked. “If you plan to advertise for certain seasonal or holiday events, we can plug those into your marketing plan so you can prepare for them in advance.”
Fred and Charlie identified mid-summer as a prime time to advertise children’s Moosepicks, since new family members would be just getting into solid food at that stage. And later in the year, as it got colder, moose would begin eating more bark, which was especially prone to becoming stuck in their teeth. And of course Moosepicks would make nice Christmas gifts, so they would build Christmas advertising into their plan, too.
Charlie learns about calculating marketing ROI.
As Fred Squirrel launched into a lecture on how to avoid losing money in advertising, Charlie began to feel like the poor math student he was back in his school days. “Can’t we just skip this part?” he asked.
Fred Squirrel saw that he was losing Charlie’s interest. “Okay,” he said, “let me ask it this way: If you could swim downstream to ForestMart this afternoon and buy a new Moosepicks customer, how much would you be willing to pay for it?”
Charlie wasn’t sure. So he turned the question back on Fred. “What would you advise?” he asked.
Fred picked up a stick and began making figures in the dirt on the forest floor. “We’ll figure that out,” he said.
At first Charlie couldn’t see how Fred’s ForestMart question fit into their marketing plan, but eventually he got it. Marketing expenses were like buying customers. If he spent 100 acorns and got one new customer, it was like he had paid 100 acorns at ForestMart for that one customer. And he knew that was too much.
He began to see the importance of tracking his marketing expenses and then measuring the impact of his marketing so he could calculate his ROI.
Charlie feels overwhelmed.
After his afternoon with Fred, Charlie went back to the lodge with his head spinning with numbers, ideas, and dreams. He was excited about growing Moosepicks into a strong brand backed up by a successful company, yet it all seemed so overwhelming. But what had Fred Squirrel said at the end? Something like, “Done right, a marketing plan will take you a long way, one simple step at a time.”
After playing Swishleball with the kits in the water outside the lodge, he went inside and showed Hannah the piece of birch bark paper Fred had sent home with him.
“Fred said I should try to answer these questions to help us decide how many acorns to budget for marketing,” Charlie explained. “In the marketing plan we are putting together, we need to allocate both time and acorns.”
Hannah read over the questions at the top of the page.
- How much do you want to grow?
- Are there any large long-term investments you should make?
- Is there research you should be doing?
- How much can you afford to lose?
“That last question really makes you stop and think, doesn’t it?” Hannah said. “I guess that even with Fred Squirrel and his friends in the Treetop Marketing Guild helping us, we still aren’t guaranteed that every marketing investment will pay off.”
Charlie pondered the questions as he worked over the next several days, and discussed them with Hannah in the evenings. His sense of overwhelm began to fade. By the time his next appointment with Fred rolled around, he was looking forward to seeing a marketing plan come to life.
A Moosepicks marketing plan emerges.
Charlie’s enthusiasm was put to the test as he and Fred slogged through another set of questions that Fred had prepared.
“It’s these ‘why’ questions that get me,” Charlie grumbled, leaning his head on his paw.
Fred grinned. “Welcome to the world of marketing,” he said. “It takes a lot of hard work. I don’t expect you to have all the answers, but these questions at least get us thinking. It’s like Henry Ford said: ‘Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is the probable reason why so few engage in it.’ We want to make well thought out decisions about investing your marketing time and acorns.”
- What has worked in the past? Why?
- What has not worked in the past? Why?
- What are we doing right now that is working? Why?
- What avenues will be best aligned with our target market?
- Should we experiment with something new?
- How will we generate leads?
- How will we convert leads?
- How will we develop brand loyalty?
- How will we test and measure results?
As they worked on a Moosepicks marketing plan, they tackled three areas in turn: lead generation, lead conversion, and brand development. For each item in the plan they figured out a way to measure the response.
Lead generation was how they would get new prospects interested in Moosepicks, lead conversion was getting more prospects to buy, and brand development included making the Moosepicks brand more well-known and appreciated.
Moosepicks’ lead generation
Together Fred and Charlie planned to use three avenues for lead generation:
Cloudpuff: This was a subscription service that deployed a small twig switch on signposts and at events. When forest folk flipped the twig, a cloud displaying a Moosepicks message appeared directly overhead. Quickly flipping the switch three times allowed a voice message to be recorded and sent.
Nutshells: A free weekly advertising paper distributed to all the nests and holes in the forest.
Signposts: Large signs along well-worn forest paths. Some were lit by firefly surround teams for better night visibility.
Moosepicks’ lead conversion
Next they decided on two lead conversion methods:
Leaf-lets: A leaf with an imprinted message that can be floated to any nest or hole in the forest.
Catalog: A document displaying the items for sale with descriptions and pricing.
Moosepicks’ brand development
When they got to brand development, though, Fred and Charlie hit a roadblock. “Of course we can do something simple like sending branded thank-you leaf-lets after each purchase,” Charlie said, “but that is not much of an experience that will stand out. I’d like to do something that has a bigger ‘wow factor’.”
It was Charlie who zeroed in on the universal desire for food, fun, and fellowship, and suggested holding an event of some kind. “Maybe a hotdog eating contest?” he suggested.
Fred wasn’t sure about associating the Moosepicks brand with that kind of greediness, but Charlie’s suggestion was the spark that led to planning the very first Moosepicknic. The Moosepicknic would include good food, games, and storytime with Chip Munk. Each Moosepicks customer would receive a family pass, plus five free passes to give to their friends.
Charlie knew that pulling off such a large event would be a lot of work, but he was sure it would be good for his growing company. And he felt especially pleased that, because of all the forethought that went into the Moosepicks marketing plan, he had plenty of time to prepare.
Moral of the story
Creating a marketing plan helps you make the best use of your time and dollars. Scheduling well in advance avoids rush charges and cuts down on poor decisions. Incorporating a testing and measuring plan is vital because it helps you identify where you can get the best return. When you clearly identify the functions of lead generation, lead conversion, and brand development you can begin to understand and address sales challenges much better.
Can you relate to Charlie Hatchet’s challenges? Rosewood Marketing is your Fred Squirrel for the real world. Would you like someone to walk alongside you to help solve your marketing challenges? Call 717-866-5000 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.