When did we start defining strategy based on the loudest voices? For many marketers, this has been happening since the first marketing dollars were fought for – and has continued since. Unfortunately, addressing the highest stated need has the unintended consequence of incorrectly allocating scarce budget dollars.
We’ve put together this checklist to help guide the conversations around when, what and how much is spent to achieve marketing objectives. We hope this will help frame the discussion and enable marketers to say “no.”
- What is the objective? Sometimes marketing is seen as a problem solver for issues that have nothing to do with marketing, in its truest sense. The strongest marketing communications program won’t solve issues related to operations. In fact, it might exacerbate the problems. In addition, establishing a clear objective, often related to revenue, is typically one of the few ways to truly measure program success. But many times internal clients might not actually know what they want, only they want something done. Don’t fall into this trap.
- Who’s our target? All marketing programs must have a target and this is rarely “everyone.” But more than that, is there a true understanding of the goals, behaviors, and needs of that target audience? What is their current and potential utilization of your products and services? Asking this will help to isolate the proper tactics – and some of it may just be to remind those current customers to re-buy or recommend you.
- Why now? Establish the timing of efforts is critical for prioritization. Is the urgency being driven by a perceived or real competitive threat? Often times it is a function of an anecdote (e.g., I saw this billboard and we need to do this same thing).
- What’s the relative priority? Everyone’s individual efforts seem to be the most important to them, but you’ve got a rigid budget. Part of the solution is to leverage other stakeholders, especially given the answers to the questions above. Does this effort have a greater strategic priority given potential, target or timing? If not, it could more reasonably go lower on the list.
- Is the tactic appropriate? Given the objective, there are a variety of tactics, some of which are inexpensive. Most outside of the marketing domain aren’t aware of the myriad of channels available, only what they’ve seen you do before or others. In addition, many of these require obligations from your internal customers (e.g., content). That said, you can educate to advance the cause of marketing to move beyond give-aways and billboards.
The Pay-Off: Internal customers will appreciate your structured approach and the ability to learn more. Ultimately the only one who pays for the price for taking orders is the marketing group – executives, for example, don’t go back to your customers to determine why they requested 1,000 new mouse pads – they ask you to reduce your budget.
By using this structured approach, you’re also better able to demonstrate results. Here’s an example on how these plans and tactics can be integrated into a clear story around the outcomes: