We are six months into 2014 and you are no doubt reviewing your marketing programs to understand what is working well or not. Believe it or not, pre-budget planning for 2015 is also starting around this time. Crazy, I know, but it’s happening.
A few years ago, I was asked to abandon our current marketing plan and create a plan that I thought would make sense. This was the first time I had cart blanche to really sit down and think about strategy, customer acquisition goals and tactics. No doubt you all have had some role in a scenario like this if you are running a marketing department. Where do you start and why?
To start, if you haven’t read “Blue Ocean Strategy” by W. Chan Kim, I would highly recommend it. I participated in a seminar focusing on the principles of the book and it was life-changing from a marketer’s point of view. This provides an innovative look at essentially the SWOT analysis of your company and then provides the framework for thinking differently in order to compete. Second, I am a theme guy. In order for me to tie a marketing strategy together, I need a rally cry to use to motivate and capture my internal audience. What I am about to share has worked well for me mostly in the B2B space, but it can work well in the B2C arena as well. It’s all about logical and linear thinking.
The first step in preparing your team to compete and look for new business is to think SAS:
“S”trategy – Take the step back NOW!
- What marketing tactics are you doing right now?
- What is working well?
- What can you tweak to work better?
- What is new?
- How do you acquire customers?
This all needs to revolve around strategies that support the business goals. If you know them, write them down. If you don’t know them, start developing them with a cross-functional team. Remember, marketing affects the entire company. If you have them, reinforce them. As marketers, we are very good at doing, but don’t have the time for thinking. Now is the perfect time.
“A”udience – Always think of the marketer’s golden rule: market to others as they would like to be marketed to!
Who is your target audience and how do they like to be communicated to? Figure it out through surveys or internal feedback from sales. You can’t be all things to all people, so identifying the core audience can start narrowing down your tactics and optimizing your marketing dollars.
“S”chedule – Have a calendar, but not just tactics, a planning calendar.
I really believe having two calendars makes sense when it comes to marketing strategy. The planning calendar serves as the strategic compass mixed in with budgetary numbers and ROI forecasts adding in blue sky initiatives. The tactical calendar is just your weekly checklist of items to execute.
Not that you have these in place, what is the next logical step? How do you attract the right customers with the right message at the right time? That’s where “COW” comes in.
“C”ontent – It all starts with content.
Whether it is a video, download, infographic or collateral piece, starting here is the most crucial step in developing marketing campaigns that work. Your call to action can be an order or a call, but convincing prospects that your product or service fits their needs is the key.
What if the prospect is not ready to buy? Using content for lead nurture campaigns fits not just B2B campaigns, but also B2C. Find your subject matter experts in your company and start brainstorming pain points, differentiators, case studies and benefits that have/will motivate prospects to buy and put them into riveting pieces.
“O”nline – Now that you have those great content pieces, think digital.
Look for ways to execute your branding and acquisition tactics online first. I am in total favor of an integrated marketing approach to mix online and offline tactics, but online gives you better tracking, faster feedback and numerous ways to update the message if it is not working. Look for lead gen opportunities where your customers search. Identify trade publications and social media groups that may be a good way to not just advertise, but offer editorial opportunities to reinforce the “expert” message.
“W”ebsite – Where do you lead these prospects to?
Your website—but it must be responsive for mobile and optimized for lead capture. Understand your website visitor behavior and what pages they visit. Make sure that you have lead capture opportunities like forms, e-newsletter sign ups and immediate contact options on most pages. Create consistent tracking and branding with landing pages for all of your campaigns. The worst thing you could do is drive all of this great traffic to your website without the means to nurture, track and sell.
There is a lot to do, but keeping it simple and taking a step back help make sure you are coordinated from business goals to marketing strategies to tactics—but it all starts with your target audience.