Nation Branding and Place Marketing
I. The Marketing Plan
II. The Product
III. The Price
IV. The Place
V. Promotion, Sales, and Advertising
VI. The Sales Force
VII. Marketing Implementation, Evaluation, and Control
VIII. The Psychology and Demographics of the Consumer
By: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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VII. Marketing Implementation, Evaluation, and Control
How can a country (region, state, city, municipality, or other polity) judge the efficacy of its attempts to brand or re-brand itself and, consequently, to attract customers (investors, tourism operators, bankers, traders, and so on)?
Marketing is not a controlled process in an insulated lab. It is prone to mishaps, last minute changes, conceptual shifts, political upheavals, the volatility of markets, and, in short, to the vagaries of human nature and natural disasters. Some marketing efforts are known to have backfired. Others have yielded lukewarm results. Marketing requires constant fine tuning and adjustments to reflect and respond to the kaleidoscopic environment of our times.
But maximum benefits (under the circumstances) are guaranteed if the client (the country, for instance) implements a rigorous Marketing Implementation, Evaluation, and Control (MIEV) plan.
The first task is to set realistic quantitative and qualitative interim and final targets for the marketing program - and then to constantly measure its actual performance and compare it to the hoped for outcomes. Even nation branding and place marketing require detailed projections of expenditures vs. income (budget and pr-forma financial statements) for monitoring purposes.
The five modules of MIEV are:
1. Annual plan control
It comprises at least five performance gauging tools:
I. Sales analysis (comparing sales targets to actual sales and accounting for discrepancies).
II. Market-share analysis (comparing the country's "sales" with those of its competitors). The country should also compare its own sales to the total sales in the global market and to sales within its "market segment" (neighboring countries, countries which share its political ambience, same-size countries, etc.).
III. Expense-to-sales analysis demonstrates the range of costs - both explicit and hidden (implicit) - of achieving the country's sales goals.
IV. Financial analysis calculates various performance ratios such as profits to sales (profit margin), sales to assets (asset turnover), profits to assets (return on assets), assets to worth (financial leverage), and, finally, profits to worth (return on net worth of infrastructure).
V. Customer satisfaction is the ultimate indicator of tracking goal achievement. The country should actively seek, facilitate, and encourage feedback, both positive and negative by creating friendly and ubiquitous complaint and suggestion systems. Frequent satisfaction and customer loyalty surveys should form an integral part of any marketing drive.
2. Profitability control
There is no point in squandering scarce resources on marketing efforts that guarantee nothing except name recognition. Sales, profits, and expenditures should count prominently in any evaluation (and re-evaluation) of on-going campaigns. The country needs to get rid of prejudices, biases, and misconceptions and clearly identify what products and consumer groups yield the most profits (have the highest relative earnings-capacity). Money, time, and manpower should be allocated to cater to the needs and desires of these top-earners.
The marketing-effectiveness rating review incorporates privileged information such as input and feedback from the country's "customers" (investors, tourist operators, traders, bankers, etc.), internal reports regarding the adequacy and efficiency of the country's marketing information, operations, strengths, strategies, and integration (of various marketing, branding, and sales tactics).
The Encyclopedia Britannica (2005 edition) describes the marketing audit thus:
"... (I)t covers all aspects of the marketing climate (unlike a functional audit, which analyzes one marketing activity), looking at both macro-environment factors (demographic, economic, ecological, technological, political, and cultural) and micro- or task-environment factors (markets, customers, competitors, distributors, dealers, suppliers, facilitators, and publics). The audit includes analyses of the company's marketing strategy, marketing organization, marketing systems, and marketing productivity. It must be systematic in order to provide concrete conclusions based on these analyses. To ensure objectivity, a marketing audit is best done by a person, department, or organization that is independent of the company or marketing program. Marketing audits should be done not only when the value of a company's current marketing plan is in question; they must be done periodically in order to isolate and solve problems before they arise."
The psychology and demographics of the country's "customers" - investors, tourists, traders - are the topics of our next article.
Go to The Psychology and Demographics of the Country's "Customers"
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