Part 2: Marketers: Stop leaving out this step when developing your strategy!
READ PART ONE FIRST:
Part 1 of 2: So, what’s the issue and why is it important?
Part 2 of 2: OK, how do I do it right?
Now, we know the terms, and the difference between channels and promotional categories is clear. But I know rewiring how we think can be a challenge, so let’s break it down. Before you decide your “channels,” you should define what promotional approach(s) to marketing communication is best for your brand and stop conflating channel with approach.
Remember, your promotional approach is your MO – modus operandi – or ‘mode’ of communicating. Too many marketing strategies are flawed from the get-go because they do not clearly define their approach(s) and why it’s best for reaching a specific audience. Simply put, skipping this step, puts you into a campaign mindset before you have determined the most effective and efficient approach for your brand(s) and or product(s). Then, your tactics get ahead of your strategies.
Before you begin, ask yourself these questions: What are our strengths? What resources can w
e deploy? What are the revenue expectations? Finally, what is the most authentic way for us to communicate with our customer demographic based on our product offering(s)?
You may say, “I just need to start pushing my messages out. Can’t I do social media marketing without
aligning with a strategic approach?” Sure, the same way you can build a house without a solid architectural plan. But, how well will that house serve your needs? And, how long will it hold up against the elements? In this case, those elements are a competitive and ever-demanding marketplace. At best, it can lead to chaos, and at worst, your plan could become a house of cards and fall apart, because advertising, PR, sales, and direct marketing are all fundamentally different. So, without defining your approach, you end up just building campaigns that lack foundational fortitude. This can cause them not to resonate with your audiences and, ultimately, keep you from achieving your goals.
Your B2B company has an abundance of thought leadership you want to leverage, but you get caught up in channel thinking. You decide to create a series of blog articles for your website and promote them with Facebook posts because you have a decent number of followers. The reality? Your site traffic is low, and the C-suite audience you want to reach isn’t on Facebook. What do you do? Abandon your thought leadership advantage because Facebook was the wrong platform? Engaging in too much of this short-term thinking can undermine your actual competitive advantage.
Identifying your promotional MO first may have led you here: You want C-suite decision-makers to think of your company as leading-edge. Your communications team has great relationships with industry media, and your database is robust. A PR approach combined with some direct marketing could be more effective. Once you have that established, you can begin your channel plan and ask yourself: What do I want my promotion to do? Create awareness? Establish thought leadership? Drive product trials? Increase customer retention? Generate leads? From there, you may develop some cohesive campaigns which could be the ticket to your success, like creating videos of your experts talking about industry topics and doing a PR push along with distributing them via email.
The same could be true if your B2B company has great products with loyal customers but not a lot of people strong in delivering thought leadership. Deciding to use LinkedIn with its terrific organic reach to your audience could fall flat if you’re not delivering valuable content to them. In reality, you could have been slaying it with a dominant ad campaign focusing on your product’s technical advantage.
All of this can be more easily uncovered if you add the simple step of focusing first on understanding your strengths and time horizons and analyzing those through the lens if promotional approach before you start thinking about your channel strategy.
If all you do is take the time to reanalyze your strategy with a promotional approach foundation first, you will find more effective channels and clean out activities that are actually wasting resources. If you want to take your strategic planning to the next level, you can review the content we have produced related to the magic of having a Primary Approach that is weighted well above the others and our Promotional Funnel model. These will help you not only better understand the relationship and mechanics of each approach, but also the levels of market influence and how to implement this mindset into your channel strategy to improve ROI and year over year planning.