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8 Steps to Marketing Planning Step 2 – Stakeholder Research

by in +marketing, +strategy

Stakeholder Research

A stumbling block many marketers run into is using their gut to make all the decisions. With that comes a lot of guessing, whether they admit it or not.

Sometimes, with enough experience in an industry, a marketer can guess correctly—but why guess when one can simply ask?

In my last post, I elaborated on doing a thorough competitive analysis in marketing planning, and I now want to take it a step further. This time, though, I want to talk to the stakeholders—clients, prospects, lost clients, and influencers.

This is one of the most crucial steps when doing strategic research for a solid marketing plan. It helps with gathering insights into various stakeholders, such as:

Their Role in the Decision-Making Process

The individuals you’re dealing with might be a great contact and lead, but where they stand in the decision-making process is a big deal. Their role could mean the difference between making a sale or losing it. It’s not a negative thing; certain people value different propositions over others. For example, a shop manager might worry more about price whereas an engineer worries more about the quality of the purchase.

Buying Triggers

What is the reason that drives a person to buy? It might be more than one reason, but there’s always a reason and understanding that can go a long way. What’s the pain point that they just can’t work with anymore and how are you going to alleviate that pain?

Decision Criteria

Understanding what the criteria are for the different personas will come into play when determining how to message your value propositions to certain individuals. Like I mentioned before, engineers might put quality before price, and being clear on that can go a long way.

Perceived Barriers

Before going into a selling position, it might be nice to know if there are any barriers that the sales team has to break through early on. Those barriers can be softened by marketing before a sales person even interacts with a prospect; however, knowing what those barriers are is the first step in coming up with a solution.

Perceived Advantages

Your company might already be known for doing something well above average, and it’s a good thing to leverage that! Make a point to highlight your strong suits and start building up the other services/products as well. Upselling is a powerful method of increasing your revenues, and knowing what the balance is at the moment will determine how to message your marketing efforts.

Their Familiarity with Your Brand

Do the stakeholders even know your brand? Are your products and/or services essential to their operations, or are the products a small commodity component? It’s only beneficial to understand how familiar stakeholders are with your brand and offering. They might not even have known that there is so much more your company can do for them!

Leads into Influencer Identification

An influencer is a person, publication, association, group, social media feed, etc. that has power in the decision process of a purchase, either directly or indirectly. Industry professionals have their sources and those sources influence how they feel about products/brands. When it comes to advertising, those are the right places to advertise because you know your target consumer is reading those publications and influenced in that atmosphere.

Soft Sales Touch

A good side effect of reaching out to stakeholders is that it shows you are taking an active interest in improving the company and care about what they have to say.

Needless to say, talking to the different stakeholders can provide incredible insights and could drive the rest of the branding, technology, and marketing efforts. Keep an eye out for the rest of the steps in marketing planning.

Step 1: Competitive Analysis – How Are the Competitors Talking to Their Customers?

Step 2: Stakeholder Research – Talk to the People

Step 3: Buyer Profile Development – Who Are We Really Talking To?

Step 4: Influencer Identification – Who Do Your Customers Really Lister To?

Step 5: Online Audit – What Does Google Have to Say?

Step 6: Benchmarks – “Best Practices” can be Beaten

Step 7: Positioning: What will Give Us that Competitive Advantage?

Step 8: Plan: Get it Down on Paper and Set the Guiding Light

What other benefits could come from just talking to the people? Let me know below!

About The Author

Francois du Toit
Francois du Toit - View more articles

Francois is a strategist who loves piecing the puzzle together for a creative big picture. Aside from skateboarding and running marathons, he loves learning about new renewable tech constantly hitting the market. His creative juices get flowing when he has Netflix running as white noise and is surrounded by natural light. Connect with Francois on LinkedIn or Twitter.