user Posted By PAS
time January 13 2017
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An Article by Sunil Gupta, PAS Awards 2016 Jury member and CEO-Igniva Consulting Pvt Ltd.

As a member on many Award juries, I find that common ‘technical’ terms in the Entry Form are often misinterpreted and therefore the content in the Forms does not always match the criteria required.

So I thought that I would start this series of blogs with some simple tips on how to interpret and use such terms so that your content is both focused and accurate.

1- Strategy: This is perhaps the term we all use daily in some discussion or another and yet don’t always get it right. What is ‘strategy’? The way I always interpret ‘strategy’ is that it is what was left after we have eliminated all other options; or in other words, a strategy is the culmination of decisions taken at every step of whatever process we are addressing.

Whenever we address any aspect of business (or even life), we are faced with many options at each stage of the process. Thus, for example, if we want to start a business, we will probably have different options from the word go: What sort of business? If we choose Z, it will (should) mean we have considered and eliminated A-Y. So Z is our strategy for our business career and the same would apply to our professional career and so on. Often, for companies, the “Corporate Mission” is the ‘corporate strategy’ because it has clearly defined its role in the world…presumably after considering all other options. For example, for Nestle it is summed up as “Good Food, Good Life” and so it is unlikely Nestle will venture into the cement business even if there is an opportunity to do so.

Since the PAS Awards are focused on the marketing and communication sectors, perhaps we should discuss Marketing Strategy and its various components first.

Marketing Strategy: By and large it would address the 4 P’s, and again there would be a process of decision-taking which would be applied to each of the P’s. What decision was taken by you in each of them? Why X and not Y? Were the decisions consistent and did they synergise with each other? Let’s take a few examples of where you would be taking decisions regularly:

A) Product: Variants/New Products/SKU’s?
B) Place: Geographies/retail in upmarket areas & outlets/self-owned/smallest kiosk/online/home delivery? If self-owned, design and graphics/displays/in-store customer service?
C) Price: Loss leader/entry discount/premium/value packs?
D) Promotion: This is where we start taking decisions about the ‘Brand’. This is perhaps the section that is most important for marketers in highly competitive and product-parity markets because the ‘Brand’ is usually the basis for choice in such markets.

Brand Positioning (competition and customers)? Brand Personality (what sort of person would our brand be/what image do we want to convey about our brand)? Communication (what is to be said)? Creative (how best to say it)? Packaging (disposable/bio-degradable/ease-of-use/information)? Grievance redressal process? Creating customer communities? Customer engagement? Brand experience?

The above are just a few examples of the decisions you will be taking in your companies. Of course, within each there are many more ‘strategies’ you will be and whatever you choose to do means you think it will meet your objectives better than all the other options you considered. That is your ‘strategy’, and what you need to do is to convince the jury that it indeed was the best choice.

2- Plan: This is commonly confused with ‘strategy’, but as we will see from the definition of ‘strategy’ above, it should not be. A ‘plan’ is what we think will best execute or implement the strategy. For example, if our objective is to increase sales of our cereals (what’s new?!), our strategy might be to reposition our brand from being just a breakfast cereal into something that can be a healthy anytime snack for children, and thus open up new consumption occasions and in essence, enter the ‘snacks’ market. This would mean that we would be taking on a very different competition from those in the breakfast cereal market, and we would need to put in place a plan that would help us penetrate that market and get new consumers. So if the ‘strategy’ is ‘what’, a ‘plan’ is ‘how’. So sampling your brand in schools would be the plan (or one of your plans) to execute your strategy of entering the snacks market.

3- Tactics: Tactics are the hands and legs of plans. So to continue the example above, your plan of school sampling would be further broken up by e.g. days of the week, timings, which variants, how often, which schools (probably those whose children came from well-to-do homes because they would probably be able to afford to buy the brand), additional activities around sampling, couponing for future purchase, competitions for the children and so on.

4- Objective: Naturally, all businesses will have similar basic objectives, such as increasing sales/profits, enhancing image, doing good for society and so on. Those are important, of course, but competition means that everyone will need to make their customers think they do or make the best in that category. But since the PAS Awards are adjudged for a specific time-frame, you will need to be very specific as to the objective for your company/brand in the past year. It may well be something that started in a previous year, but did it change in some way, was it enhanced, was it extended? It could even be a very short-term objective but in overall consonance with the marketing and brand strategy and master plan.

To help you along, I am attaching a TVC from KLM Airlines. You may want to write up an Award Application Form for this piece of communication using the tips above, but your first task will be to decide in which category/categories it could be entered. I’m happy to comment on your efforts!

Sunil Gupta
CEO-Igniva Consulting Pvt Ltd

Pakistan Advertisers Society