Marketing Planning for PEST control

External Plan Factors

The acronym ‘PEST’ is a good one. External things that can bite you!

For the unacquainted with PEST analysis (Political, Economic, Social and Technology factors), this is an external assessment of the macro environment in which your products will be placed and that your marketing programmes and business processes will nurture. PEST is a good checklist for planning, contingency planning and control design.

However, with the turnaround in our global business fortunes and the early green shoots of a recovery (like grass seed pushing through the earth, you can’t see the shoot but you know something is happening!) we need to make sure that we plan for what could happen and make sensible judgement on growth decisions to sustain predictable results.  With ‘Predictability’ comes ‘Confidence’, the magic ingredient that fuels further growth.

A word that I would like over-taught in every Business School is that of ‘sustainability’. For me, this is that the Company has thought through that a controlled, albeit accelerated, Growth is better than a ‘boom and bust’. We have a number of examples of riding the boom and ignoring PEST. The 90’s saw the Internet boom and the resultant explosion; the ‘Noughties’ brought us the over-fuelled Consumer markets and the banking crisis. Let’s not get into the blame game, we were all in it, we all benefited from the good times and we are all feeling the investment pain and backlash. Entrepreneurs come and go, but well planned companies survive and then prosper.

While Sustainability gets its rightful place in the core of every CSR plan, I also believe that business sustainability is equally important. Can my Business Plan survive if…x, y or z happens? Can I remain competitive if…? What is my Channel Mix for the good times and what is my Exit Strategy for the bad times? The acronym can also be extended to include Environmental and Legal factors, especially when considering international growth.

So, plan around the Consumer or the Business Customer ‘needs’ and understand their lives or their Markets/Value Chains. Consider the impact of External effects and be ready to either de-risk your plan or move away from the failing market opportunity. If you ignore them, the PEST will turn into a PLAGUE. No not another acronym, although I could probably come up with a negative impact to represent each letter if I tried.

On the upside, planning and de-risking as a continuum could mean that you are the last Competitor standing with a Cash Cow product.

About David Dugdale
Business Transformation Consultant

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