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Environment Marketing Information

Q:I wonder if anyone can give me some advice on how to approach organizing information about exterior events, competitors' actions, etc. so it can be easily used during strategic planning. What I am trying to do is eventually get such variables into Forecast Pro (a time-series analysis package) to ascertain their impact on sales. The problem is, we don't have anyone dedicated to intelligence, competitive or not (I just realised how bad that sounds) (I just realised that it's not that inaccurate :-) Various departments will have to contribute to the database, e.g., Communications about outside ad campaigns, the product people about changes in the category, etc. I've been thinking of some kind simple software approach, like spreadsheet templates they can fill in, a survey sheet that feeds into SPSS, a calendar programme, that can capture the data, and allow me to analyse and report. Anyone have such a system? I'm sure there are big sw solutions out there, but we're a small business, so it'll have to be a low-budget approach.

A:I see you finally figured out using state-of-the-art tools does not "a strategic planner or marketing professional" make. You will have to tailor "general" concepts to solving your "specific" business development and possibly innovate. I suggest you start by 1. better defining what questions you are trying to answer, 2. identify what parameters are necessary for finding a "practical" answer, 3. work out how (design sub modules) you will obtain the necessary source information or raw data, 4. link up the sub modules into an overall process, 5. estimate the costs and perform a "valuation" to determine ROI (for each part of the process) for justification purposes and 6. implement the process (make sure to conduct a trial run before imposing this new process on what are probably overworked employees). What do you need to know and how do we collect and distribute that information? This is the question which must be asked and answered before we even begin to develop control models, research methodologies and analytical tools. Without first defining ****** information requirements and infrastructure, research can provide only limited relevance and value to your organization. Therefore, we conduct a management information audit. The end product will provide the architecture for the collection, processing and reporting of all relevant categories of research used in the marketing decision making process. The structure will mirror your organization and will, therefore, be unique. Deliverables will include the following: On site audit and interviews to define corporate information/reporting needs Market determination Data source audit Definition of key driver relationships Executive interview pre-test for syntax and relevance Preparation of 3x3 corporate information matrix Organizational chart for information collection/distribution Preliminary reporting/meeting Final curriculum audit report You will note that none of this involves a software application. It is all pencil and paper. One you have done this, then you will want to look at how to integrate the data. In most of our client organizations, Lotus or Excel are the preferred application. This even applies to several of the multi-nationals we have worked with. The key issue here is that the audit process will ultimately drive the end result and help you design the system that is the best fit for your organization.

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