Making a Plan: How to Develop Three-year Projections
Opportunity for Faster Growth
5. Compare your projections to your company goal. If the numbers far exceed your target, it’s possible you have an opportunity to grow faster than your current trajectory. Of course, this growth likely will require an investment greater than the one you’re currently making. Bracketing your plan into conservative, moderate and aggressive versions is a helpful way to see the potential risks and rewards for different tactics.
6. If your projections aren’t meeting targets, rethink one or more aspects of your company’s strategy through a process called “gap analysis.” That’s taking the gap between your projections and your target, then analyzing and determining how to close it. B-to-B mailers often don’t mail key housefile segments often enough. So test your current contact strategy to see if you’re maximizing those contacts. It’s also possible to be too conservative on prospecting by not testing enough new lists.
7. On the other hand, the company goal may be unrealistic based on the size of your marketing niche. If this is the case, consider opening new markets for existing products, launching a new catalog or possibly even making a corporate acquisition.
Above all, resist the urge to increase AOVs or response based on the need to get your financial planning finished.
Proof Through Testing
You can improve response with better lists, offers, creative and product. But increasing your projections without proof from in-the-mail tests can end in disappointment. Use your known metrics and stick by them.
Most mailers need to complete their financial plan about three months before their fiscal year. The logistics of ordering paper for your first mailing often determines the due date for your financial plan. Consult with your printer for the last date of change for your first print quantity.
8. Use the same scheduling process for your financial planning as you would for production and marketing. Work backwards from your due date, giving enough time for additional list research and running scenarios. Usually two or three drafts are sufficient to complete your plan.
A columnist for Retail Online Integration, George founded HAGUEdirect, a marketing agency. Previously he was a member of the Shawnee Mission, Kan.-based consulting and creative agency J. Schmid & Assoc. He has more than 10 years of experience in circulation, advertising, consulting and financial strategy in the catalog/retail industry. George's expertise includes circulation strategy, mailing execution, response analysis and financial planning. Before joining J. Schmid, George worked as catalog marketing director at Dynamic Resource Group, where he was responsible for marketing and merchandising for the Annie's Attic Needlecraft catalog, the Clotilde Sewing Notions catalog, the House of White Birches Quilter's catalog and three book clubs. George also worked on corporate acquisitions.