I am about as passionate about marketing as one can get. I study it, live it, and love it. The great thing about marketing today is that it is so dynamic, that you have a plethora of tools to choose from to get the job done. Having such a broad tool set is a key reason why planning is more critical today than ever before. Often, when speaking with other marketing professionals, I have confirmed that many have forgotten the primary reason they are marketing in the first place. They find themselves chasing tactics and tools vs. staying focused on customers and strategy. Although marketing and advertising awards are nice, the reason we exist as marketers should be to help drive sales by building great brands that connect with customers and to drive communication messages that foster an ongoing dialogue, which eventually will lead to a closed customer. Customers and prospects want to hear from you! In a recent client study for global B2B organization we found that 89% of the respondents wanted more communication. The messages were being sent; however, the connection just wasn’t happening.
Now, getting back to planning… the question we are often asked is this:
"How do I accomplish my marketing goals, while meeting my timelines, staying on budget, and utilizing the skill sets within my internal team and or external marketing agency partners?"
Having the right team may be one of the most under appreciated considerations that we see with marketing teams. The speed of innovation has left many once great marketing professionals in the dark trying to catch up. If you and/or your team has this issue, do not panic! The learning curve can be overcome but you must quickly identify your starting point and make sure you do not develop a playbook that your team cannot execute. The simple answer to meeting your goals is to stay focused on the goal and have a plan for how each customer interaction and communication message fits into the pathway to reaching your goal.
Consider these three key steps in your planning cycle:
1. Use S.M.A.R.T Goals
Clearly define the goals and objectives of your marketing activities or campaign. Be clear and specific by using S.M.A.R.T. goals. Without clear goals you will not have anything to measure or a success indicator. Make sure the goals can be measured and make sure the team has ownership of delivering on them. One thing that is true about today’s marketing and business professionals is that understanding the ROI of any resource intensive activity is of the upmost importance.
2. Take a Multi-Channel Approach
Leverage the channels that your customers interact with. As much as I like advertising and direct mail, understanding which channel or group of channels will best reach your target will yield the best results. To keep costs in line, use the most effective channel to make your initial splash and then, if possible, move them to the most cost effective channel to continue to the dialogue, which leads to the next step…
Once your various communication channels have reached or engaged your target, find ways within those channels to get them online so they can be efficiently nurtured over time. Of course, if your customer or prospect is not online, you must resort to more traditional methods to nurture them. Such a consideration shall include the cost to service this customer; yet, if the ratios are in balance, keep the interactions going. Use marketing automation tools and CRM systems to help collect information which will assist in managing and measuring your digital touch points so you can quickly make changes to improve your campaign effectiveness and close the marketing loop.
That's great....so what now?
Effectively planning your marketing campaigns can yield fabulous, measurable results that make your customers happy enough to drive more leads and help you close more sales. Bingo! Job done.