MarComm Program – Plan Your Work and Work Your Plan
When it comes to building a house, you don’t start with pouring a foundation, erecting walls and then start thinking about where to put the kitchen, bedrooms and other features. The process begins when the draftsman lays out all those details and results in the creation of a home plan complete with construction drawings that guide the construction of the house.
Planning is the starting point in your marketing and communications (MarComm) program as we introduced in our last installment and will dig into here. As a reminder, we suggested a four-part process; planning, content development and management, execution and reporting.
We begin with a series of discovery meetings with our clients. This deep-dive into the business informs what we need to know when planning the program and creating marketing messages.
Define Goals & Objectives
This step is the most important in the planning process. What do you want your marketing efforts to achieve for your company? Thinking and working through goals and objectives will lead to clarity of purpose and focus your marketing efforts.
Marketing goals can be long- or short-term and are larger achievements to be reached by succeeding with your objectives.
Some examples of goals include:
- Build brand awareness
- Grow sales leads in two strategic service areas
- Increase website traffic
- Establish company as subject matter expert
- Increase brand engagement
Marketing objectives are short-term achievements that help you achieve longer-term goals. An effective marketing objective should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART). Having detailed objectives provides clear direction for team members to follow and offers information for leadership to review and support. One example of a SMART marketing objective would be: Increase the number of people following our Facebook page by 40%.
Audiences and Characteristics
Understanding and defining your current and potential customers and influencers in detail is another critical component. Knowing who your audience is and how they live, work and play will ultimately drive where, when and how you advertise and the messages you need to communicate. Spending $3,000 on a television campaign for women’s clothing during Monday Night Football is probably not the best use of your marketing dollars.
To identify these attributes, we pose a series of “discovery questions” to our clients during the meeting process. These are intended to help define target demographics, audience type and drill down to other behavior and attributes.
Some of these questions include:
- Who are your audiences?
- Describe other characteristics
- Where are they located?
- Why do they do business with you?
- How do they interact with your company?
- What sets you apart from your competitors in their minds?
- What matters to them? What are they passionate about?
- What problems do they face?
- How do you impact their lives?
- What is the audience perception of you?
- What is interesting about them?
- What activities do they do where you can communicate with them?
The more information you start to gather, the clearer the vision for your plan will become. When you know what matters to them, you can craft high converting marketing messages. Knowing how your audience talks, walks, eats and shops will help you determine what to communicate and through which channels.
Your communication channels will drive the decisions you make about the type of content you can develop and how you distribute it to your target audiences. Exploring the many options and selecting your communication channels will be driven by your goals and audiences defined earlier.
Communication channel options include your website, print publications, radio, broadcast or cable television, social media, digital advertising and others. Select those that you can execute consistently given your ability to create content and that fit within your budget.
Content Exploration: Topics and Types
Now that you have defined your goals, described your audience and defined your communication channels, you can begin to explore and define your content messaging and the channels through which you can deliver them.
Let’s look at our “build brand awareness” goal. Building brand awareness requires commitment to marketing and communication through consistent, continuous and integrated messaging through multiple channels.
The content topics that build brand awareness are broad and can include your products and services, customer success stories, personal anecdotes, community involvement and many more. You can begin to create an inventory in what we call an “Idea Scrapbook" that you can refer to during the next phase.
Next you can brainstorm the different types of content you want to develop. Types include everything from product and service highlights to events and contests, from informational videos to case studies, and blog posts to display ads. Consider your content types as they relate to the communication channels that you have defined.
Planning for Success
The planning stage of the marketing process can be time consuming and you may want to truncate it, so you can just get things going. But taking the time to plan will increase the success and cost-effectiveness of your marketing and communication activities in the long run
In our next installment of this series, we will dig further into Content Development and Management and then wrap it all up with Execution and Reporting. Here’s to your marketing success.