Friday, March 9, 2018

Marketing 101

This year, I am volunteering on six not-for-profit marketing committees. These committees are usually comprised of marketing professionals from the community. Some are retired and some are in between jobs, while most are just busy marketing professionals who are generous with their time and talents. One of the committees on which I volunteer is associated with a social membership organization and is comprised mostly of non-marketers.

A recent committee meeting was interesting. People had lots of ideas. "Let's stuff mailboxes in nearby neighborhoods." "Let's offer a discounted first year membership through a silent auction." "Let's advertise on Facebook." "Let's put up posters at nearby cafes and similar establishments." "Let's co-market through non-competing local organizations." "Let's have an open house." "Let's offer trial memberships." "Let's offer an incentive for current members to recruit new members." And the ideas kept flowing. 

While the ideation was energizing, it was also frustrating because there was little focus. This is where I inserted myself, understanding that there is a marketing discipline that requires a specific order in decision making. Hopefully, this is completely obvious to most experienced marketers, but here is the order in which marketing decisions must be made. There are no short cuts. To execute marketing effectively, one must answer the questions raised by each step before one precedes on to the next step in the process. 

These are the steps:

  1. What are the business and marketing objectives that this marketing plan or campaign is intended to address? That is, what are we trying to accomplish? What are the metrics and what are the goals?
  2. To make this happen, who are we targeting? What market segments will best help us achieve our goals? Think demographics, psychographics, attitudes, behaviors and geographics. Be as specific as possible. 
  3. What does our brand stand for? Do we know what its unique value proposition is? What is its promise? (This step could be accomplished earlier in the process however often the target customer definition can lead to developing a more powerful unique value proposition and brand promise.)
  4. What are our brand's most important messages? What do we want to say that will cause our target customers to be interested in and choose our brand?
  5. What communication vehicles and tactics should we use to reach our target audiences with these key messages? What are the most effective and efficient ways to reach our audiences? (This may include a variety of strategies and supporting tactics, and along with the next step, full-blown marketing and media plans.)
  6. Given what we are trying to accomplish, what is the right timing for each marketing tactic?

A consistent brand architecture and identity system and execution should underpin all of this. And one should set up success measures if at all possible to determine which messages, strategies and tactics worked best. And, of course, the plan will have to work within a specified budget. On occasion, it might also inform or lead to a request for a specific budget. 

So, while marketing tactic ideation is fun, there is an order of steps that will lead to a much more thoughtful plan and successful outcome. If you are a seasoned marketing professional, this just highlights and summarizes what you already know. If you are new to marketing, please follow these steps. They will help you develop much better marketing plans and achieve much better outcomes. 

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