The sometimes arduous task of marketing planning can seem to some a step that can be avoided. But if you want your business to thrive, this essential business planning process is an imperative.
Simplicity, data and planned purposeful intent are the keys to ensuring that your plan has merit and above all flexibility. Don’t get me wrong, I am the Queen of the spreadsheet and like to plan to the nth degree. But I have learnt the hard way that being so rigid in your goals will not allow you to take advantage of opportunities that come your way.
In larger organisations, the lack of a plan will result in senior management’s whims dictating the direction of the marketing effort. In smaller organisations, the marketing budget will be heavily influenced by the latest ‘deal’ offered by conference organisers, local magazines and radio stations.
So where is the middle ground?
Content marketing, for me, holds the answer. It redirects effort back to the customer and what they need, not what the business thinks they want. By identifying who your customers are – using personas/target marketing and above all else, data. Overlaying your customer’s message preferences, such as social media channels, provide the skeleton to your plan.
Content marketing takes many cues from the editorial planning process – key to this is the editorial planning calendar. Once you have the calendar in place, it becomes a simple yet effective planning tool that allows your business to take advantage of and amplify public events – The Olympics, Royal Weddings and births to name a few. Overlay the calendar with product launches and known product peaks and you have the makings of a clear content plan.
Clear training and trust
The next hurdle to jump is for organisations to truly trust their social media and call centre staff – give them the autonomy to respond to situations. By all means provide them with templated responses but some of the best content and engaged conversations are those that are more personal and ‘off the cuff.’ Here are some amazing examples of companies getting it right and gaining real traction in social media: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/0/10-brilliant-customer-service-exchanges-ever-seen-twitter/
Monitor the results
It’s not always easy to understand the impact of good content and social media – it’s a slow burn and for those of you out there looking for a quick metric then perhaps PPC is more your thing. But for building strong relationships, understanding your persona groups and improving your SEO then content, as ever, is King.