Lots has been written about planning. Do a web search on B2B marketing and communications planning, and you’ll be overwhelmed. So there’s lots of talk, yet most companies don’t actually plan. Why is that?
A big reason is that marketing and communications planning seems like a chore. Thinking. Researching. Writing. BAH!! Doing something—like creating a website or shooting a video—seems much more fun.
Make it a game
So why not make planning a game? Set deadlines and goals. Then reward yourself for meeting them. The analogy that comes to mind is a video game with several levels. You’ve got to get past obstacles to reach marketing communications success. Here’s what we mean.
First level: Objectives
Objectives are the basis of any good plan. They spell out WHY you’re setting out to do the things you propose to do. We believe marketing communications objectives should be derived from marketing objectives, which in turn should be derived from your company’s business objectives. You may need to sniff out marketing and business goals. That means talking to your managers, so you get the chance to make a good impression. Make it through this level and give yourself a gold star, a jewel, or whatever reward suits you. Then move on.
Second level: Strategies
Now to define HOW you’re going to meet your objectives. This is often the toughest stage of planning because it’s so abstract. But investing the effort here makes it easier to develop tactics later.
Need some examples?
- The audiences you target can be a strategy.
- The mix of communications types you use and their relative weight are strategic decisions. (For example, if your objective were to generate inquiries, you’d put more weight on things like email marketing rather than brand advertising.)
- Timing can have strategic implications if there’s strong seasonality in your market or major trade shows to consider.
- Your core messages are a strategic choice.
- If you have measurable objectives (and you should), HOW you’ll measure results it important.
PHEW! Made it through? Reward yourself and then sally forth!
Third level: Tactics
This is the last stage—defining WHAT you’re going to do. Web tactics. Trade shows. Email marketing. Public relations. Advertising. Measuring results. Choose what fits your objectives and strategies, and work out a budget and timetable.
Hurray!! You’ve reached the highest level. You’re a master of the planning game.
But wait. No time for resting on laurels. Now you’ve got to get it all done. By “it” we mean implementing your plan’s specific programs, measuring and analyzing results, learning and then beginning the planning game again.
Your partner: Your agency
Unlike so many video games, you’re not on your own when it comes to the planning game. You’ve got your business-to-business ad agency to help you—if your agency is CCC, that is. We’re ace planners and can help you succeed at every level.
Creative Communications Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a business-to-business marketing communications agency. We specialize in providing strategic marketing communications thinking to marketers of industrial and commercial products who target B2B audiences.