Discipline Simplifies Complexity of Marketing and Communications Planning
Two perspectives, same quandary.
Glass half-full perspective: Marketers have more ways to engage their audiences today than ever before.
Glass half-empty perspective: Marketers have more ways to engage their audiences today than ever before.
It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the earned, owned, paid and shared strategies and tactics that can be deployed. It’s also easy to stick to the traditional thinking of classic advertising and public relations programs. Here are some tips to consider as you develop your integrated campaign:
1. Understand Your Audience and Competition
If you’re going fishing, you might as well take the time to find out what kind of food the fish like to eat. Otherwise, you’re banking success on luck. It’s no different in marketing and communications. Know your audience. Know how, when and where its members engage with the mindset most advantageous to what you’re selling. And study your competition’s behavior. There’s a lot to learn. (Check out more on this topic from my colleague Lisa Cook’s perspective.)
Our strategic planning framework at Fahlgren Mortine is called the “What If?” process. Stages two and three are critical because we’re asking “what if?” to generate impactful and differentiating ideas. We’re then challenging and refining those ideas by asking “why?” they matter to our target audiences.
3. Identify (or Create) Occasions
Equipped with impactful ideas, focus your campaign on specific occasions for engagement. An occasion can be defined many ways. Maybe it’s weekend mornings. Maybe it’s family dinnertime. Maybe it’s a trade show. Maybe it’s after someone downloads a brochure. Maybe it’s an occasion you need to create that doesn’t already exist. Regardless, systematically plot out the occasions to develop a focused campaign framework.
4. Strategize by Occasion
You’re likely going to have more occasions than your budget can support. So start to connect the dots among the occasions. If you invest heavily in occasion A, perhaps you can lessen investment in B in order to maximize investment later in the purchase process.
5. Scale Program Tactics by Available Budget
The campaign structure is built; now it’s time to bring it to life. It’s here where you’ll deploy the mix of paid, earned, owned and shared tactics, armed with understanding of your audience(s) and occasions to engage with them. High priority engagement occasions likely deserve an integrated effort comprising numerous tactics. Low engagement occasions – perhaps just to stay in front of a prospect – may use a limited number of marketing or communications tactics.
6. Fill the Gaps
Have you adequately surrounded your customers and prospects at prime engagement occasions? What opportunities are you leaving open to competitors? Are you OK with those? Could any investment be shifted to make an impact there? (Leaving some occasions alone is OK and can be a strategic decision. Resist the urge to be everywhere.)
Integrated marketing and communications planning requires a disciplined approach to audience engagement and resource deployment. It doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It does need to be cohesive and impactful at each meaningful engagement occasion.