In February 2014, Golden Orb sponsored the Direct Marketing theatre at the Technology for Marketing and Advertising conference (TFM&A) at Earls Court in London. At the conference, we presented two case studies on Direct Marketing, based on our work with Direct Wines, the multi-national wine merchant. The second of these was entitled ‘How good is your planning? Are you making good use of your data to forecast the future?’.

This talk described the Global Marketing System which we have developed for Direct Wines and which underpins all of their marketing across the world. The talk touched on each of the main areas of functionality, with a brief discussion of the main data requirements, key considerations and traps for the unwary. The full set of slides can be downloaded here. The main areas discussed were:

  • The benefits of having a single system for planning and reporting on campaigns – particularly in a global business. Planning purely on spreadsheets is error-prone and runs the risk of different departments working to different versions of the budget/plan;
  • Direct marketing is a numbers business. The numerous customer interactions generate huge quantities of data and in aggregate the business is highly predictable. However, it doesn’t make sense to make marketing people spend hours updating campaign forecasts, when it can be automated and done much better by computer;
  • Using the same system for reporting and planning makes it easy for historic data to be used to improve the forecasting of future campaigns;
  • Most businesses have one or more Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that they use to monitor their business. However, even simple metrics (e.g. customers, orders, revenue) require rules to define precisely what is included. Having a single system means that the definitions can be centralised so that everyone is talking the same language. A change in definition just requires a change in one place;
  • It is always advisable to simplify the requirements as much as possible – both in terms of scope and level of detail available. Always ask whether the level of detail being considered is really essential as there are trade-offs between detail and performance. Remember that different levels of detail might be appropriate for different measures;
  • In a continuity business, involving a regular delivery of a product (e.g. monthly/quarterly), it is generally possible to start forecasting the ‘back-end’ shipments when planning a recruitment campaign. Changes to the number of recruits predicted should flow directly through to the back-end forecast.

The project itself has been wide-ranging and has touched many areas of the business. The system feeds into many business areas (e.g. Finance, Customer Service, Merchandising), which are all therefore working off the same marketing plans and forecasts. Revisions to forecasts made by Marketing are immediately available to all other areas of the business. In a short talk it was not possible to give more than a flavour of the scope and benefits of the system but we hope that the slides will be useful for people considering their own approach to planning.