6 Steps to a Winning Marketing Plan – Decide Which Communications Tools Are Best

Posted on November 6, 2013 · Posted in Marketing Consultancy

STEP 4  DECIDE WHICH COMMUNICATIONS TOOLS ARE BEST

Tactics

A. What Communication Tools Are Available?

Getting your message and content out there seen and acted upon and most appropriate for your target market is the next step.

Again a set of common sense questions will directly influence your approach

  • What is the audience profile you have to reach?

– Numbers involved & location
– Types of decision maker

  • How to reach the primary and secondary audiences?

– What are their media habits
– What is their buying process
– Are they easy to identify & target

  • Which media conveys your message and content with clarity & persuasiveness?
  • What are the best means of reaching them?
  • Is a mixture of different media required?
  • How can they be integrated to give you the best exposure?
  • Cost of reaching them – available budget?

B. Media – Transmit or Get Found?

The digital era has brought massive changes in the ways to get your message in front of prospects!

Unfortunately, it has also spawned over a hundred new terms in the marketing arena. Do you use: pull or push marketing, inbound or outbound marketing, interruption or permission based marketing?

If you’re not sure, don’t worry because they are just different names for the same thing!

As the proportion of the world’s population increasingly utilising the internet has grown, greater use of search engines and a more informed, discerning public have impacted how companies engage with their audiences.

The internet is not a communications panacea!

Shrewd marketing folk realise that labels like online or offline media, old media or new media are irrelevant because – it’s all just media!

How many housewives and elderly folk are social media savvy, are avid web surfers or blog hounds?

Many decision makers are still informed by interruption and rely on being interrupted!

So make sure that you consider your audience and their media habits thoroughly – then determine the most appropriate mix of traditional offline or digital online media to use when putting your marketing programmes together.

Worldwide advertising spending will total $496.9 billion in 2011, up from $475.7 in 2010. The growth rate did slow somewhat, with a 4.5% growth rate in 2011 vs a 5.8% growth rate in 2010. This ad spend encompasses a range of advertising mediums, including directory listings, online ads, magazine ads, newspaper ads, outdoor ads like billboards, radio ads and TV commercials. Decision makers still watch TV, read magazines & listen to the radio as well!

Nevertheless, the worldwide web is now the hub of all commercial communications. It’s more helpful to consider media in its totality with the internet and your website as your interactive hub linking offline and online communications with search engine optimisation, content marketing etc used optimise levels of the most appropriate traffic.

The digital era has brought massive changes in the ways to get your message in front of prospects!

Unfortunately, it has also spawned over a hundred new terms  in the marketing arena. Do you use: pull or push marketing, inbound or outbound marketing, interruption or permission based marketing? Don’t worry they are just different names for the same thing and the concept has been around for centuries!

A Humourous Take On Outbound vs Inbound

As the proportion of the world’s population increasingly utilising the internet has grown, greater use of search engines and a more informed, discerning and social media savvy public have impacted how companies engage with their audiences.

Report StatsHere are some interesting facts about inbound vs. outbound marketing that were released in a Hubspot Blog earlier this year.

1) Inbound marketing is being taken seriously by the industry, and it’s gaining traction

58% of companies plan to execute inbound marketing strategies in 2013, and 48% of marketers plan to increase their inbound marketing spend this year.

2) Inbound delivers on ROI promises, providing more and cheaper leads

41% of marketers confirmed that inbound marketing produces measurable ROI, and a staggering 82% of marketers who blog see positive ROI for their inbound marketing). Twice as many marketers say inbound marketing delivers below average cost per lead versus outbound strategies, and inbound marketing is estimated to deliver 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound methods.

3) While inbound is on the rise, traditional marketing is fading

17% of marketers say both traditional advertising and direct mail have become less important in the past six months.

4) There’s opportunity to better define, measure, and track marketing activities

While 15% of respondents were tying their inbound results directly to revenue or customers/wins generated, a surprising 34% of businesses cannot or do not calculate overall inbound ROI.

5) Establishing an agreement with Sales is as important — possibly more so — as simply measuring the effectiveness of inbound

Adopting a Marketing-Sales agreement saves companies (with more than 200 employees) an average of $195.84 per customer. So in addition to tracking how effective inbound marketing is with metrics like doubled website conversion rates, companies can benefit from endorsing closer alignment.

6) Content is a critical, but not considered a standalone, inbound marketing component

Anyone who has spent time with me lately knows that I am a big believer that content alone does not transform your marketing. The data agrees. Only 18% of marketers are purely focused on developing quality content in 2013. Finding and converting quality leads and identifying the right audience ranked more important than developing content in terms of marketers’ overall priorities, showing that a more holistic inbound strategy is the path to success.

7) Inbound has shifted where marketers spend resources, and enables them to work smarter

43% of marketers generated a customer via their blog this year, though the blog requires roughly 9% of marketers’ total full-time staff dedications and just 7% of their total budget.

8) It’s a great time to be a customer

50% of the 2013 survey respondents said that they consider their companies to be primarily customer-focused. As inbound marketing focuses on customer needs and behaviors, the approach clearly aligns with the customer-centric approach. Given consumers have more options than ever for engaging with your brand, it’s important not to focus on any single method of interaction but to think about the customer experience across all channels of customer engagement. This customer-centric strategy ensures integration across platforms, so the sum of marketing efforts is greater than its individual parts.

9) It’s also a great time to be an inbound marketer — if you are up for the challenge

51% of all inbound marketing teams contain fewer than six people. This small team environment is pervasive at every level of the industry; even at the enterprise level, 31% of marketing teams contain five or fewer full-time employees.

10) Overall, inbound marketing works when it is integrated with your strategy, not as a side project

81% of companies reported some level of integration between their inbound marketing strategies and overall company goals. Marketers that succeed with inbound marketing dedicate a high level of time, commitment, and resources to getting it right. Inbound marketing is not a quick-fix, nor will your company succeed at inbound by hiring an “inbound expert” and sitting them next to your email, trade show, and website staff member. Successful inbound execution requires a strategic change in how you focus your end-to-end marketing practices, such as building and staying true to your core customer personas and relentlessly tracking your lead gen goals.”

C. But Should We Go Online or Offline ?

The internet is not a communications panacea.

Many decision makers are still informed by interruption and rely on being interrupted!

It is most important to consider your audience and their media habits, then determine the most appropriate mix of traditional offline or digital online media.

WebHubShrewd marketing folk realise that labels like online or offline media, old media or new media are irrelevant because – it’s all just media!

Worldwide advertising spending is predicted to total $517 billion in 2013, up from $482 in 2011.

This ad spend encompasses a range of advertising mediums, including directory listings, online ads, magazine ads, newspaper ads, outdoor ads like billboards, radio ads and TV commercials.  Decision makers still watch TV, read magazines & listen to the radio as well!

Nevertheless, the worldwide web is now the hub of all commercial communications. It’s more helpful to consider media in its totality with the internet and your website as your interactive hub linking offline and online communications with search engine optimisation, content marketing etc used optimise levels of the most appropriate traffic.

Quarterly BudgetD. How Much Should I Spend?

Knowing how much to budget for marketing communications expenditure is not an exact science.

Marketing activities can be quite costly. If too little is invested in marketing communications, levels of business will not reach their full potential and profits will be lost and if you overspend, unnecessary expense will reduce profits.

How you can approach budgeting?

The practical budgeting methods most often employed by both B2C and B2B include:

Objective/Task led

The most sensible budgeting method where you build your marketing communications budget from scratch, using your marketing plan and achievement of its marketing communications objectives to create the budget.

All the activities which have been specified to deliver against a particular objective in a finite timescale are costed out and the budget set accordingly.

Plan based on expected payout

This approach is based on identifying expected sales, losses and costs associated with your new product or campaign.

A payout plan is created to determine the investment value of the marketing efforts. For instance, additional spend will be allocated for the launch of a new endeavour. Subsequent years’ marketing spend being based on expected returns.

Framing past budgets

If your goal is to double your current market share say, this approach makes your future marketing budget twice the size of your historical spend. By taking last year’s budget and subjectively adding to it or cutting it to give a figure for this year’s budget.

Competitor parity

“Matching the competitors method” sets the budget by matching or surpassing what your competitors are doing.

Percentage of sales

Using this approach, your company would set its marketing communications budget establishing it as a fixed percentage of either your last year’s sales or your forecast sales for the forthcoming year. Little logic used here!

Affordability

The affordable method is based on what you think(or your company thinks) it can afford to spend on marketing communications. It has a simple but arbitrary approach – if you can afford to spend £50k, spend £50k. If you can’t, you don’t.

Budgeting in the real world

All companies do things differently and invariably a mix of approaches is used.

At budgeting time in larger businesses, individual departmental budgets are often created by using the objective/task led approach which are then submitted in what become de facto bids for senior management consideration.

Sometimes marketing communications budgets survive intact, sometimes they are reduced. It depends to large extent what is considered “essential vs desirable” within the overall marketing plan and marketing budget. Quite often “trade-offs” are made within cost centre budgets.

Senior management may apply “what the business can afford” cuts or determine funding allocations based on which mixture of activities across all aspects of a company’s business will yield the best return on investment in a given time period – short or long term.

The learning point here is to incorporate as much realistic marketing communications return on investment information during budget reviews as possible when bidding for funding.Scales

E.      Winning Media Selection – It’s All In the Mix

The purpose of the media allocation process is to attempt to identify a balance of media types which will provide the best marketplace impact and thus the greatest returns to your company.

Specify what marketing tools and strategies you’ll use to get your message to your market.

Determine whether you’ll use print, media, Internet, appearances, or all of the aforementioned. Motivate your decisions based on all of the information you’ve examined.

Campaign WeightingF.      Selecting The Correct Media

The next step is to determine which medium type (TV, Radio, Display Ads) will reach your desired targets and generate the greatest ROI.

Whatever your company is taking to market, you will invariably need to consider and utilise a mixture of different media.

So what you need to do is start building up a view about the suitability of different types of media for the different stages of the purchasing cycle relative to the types of product and services your are promoting and your target audience demographic.

Then you should apply a budget allocation weighting among the different stages of the purchasing decision your particular campaign is aimed at.

PipelineFollowing this establish (even if it is subjective to begin with) how each media option is likely to perform for you in each part of the purchasing pipeline.

Then, build up a matrix to help you make your final media selection and budget allocation.

In the fifth article of the series we investigate “How To Create A Detailed Action Plan”