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Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count
 

Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count

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    Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count Document Transcript

    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count By Ahmed Taleb, Senior Director of Strategic Planning, Bulldog Solutions www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009) © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.
    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count Executive Overview Much of the conversation about the way BtoB marketers connect with prospects has been geared towards strategies designed to capture attention. But what do you do with your prospects’ attention once you’ve caught it? Our approach to building a program with strong return on investment is to leverage calls to action to help direct your prospects’ activities in a conscious way across the various promotion vehicles and channels that comprise your online brand. The goal is to create a cohesive and deliberate series of interaction points that add value to your prospects’ experience and lead to ever-increasing levels of engagement. Think of it as the polar opposite of “one and done.” An effective promotion engine is not a series of individual media buys driving to one specific call to action such as Webinar registration. Rather, it is a comprehensive plan that incorporates all of your online marketing activities. In this third of a four-part series on strategic planning, I will outline three exercises designed to help you create an integrated promotion roadmap. These exercises build on the strategic planning exercises described in my previous white papers in this strategic marketing series: “Defining Your Audience: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Buyer Personas” and “Three Steps to Developing Effective Calls to Action.” Both are available at www.bulldogsolutions.com/bulldogma. Bulldog Solutions’ Strategic Planning Methodology www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009) 2 © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.
    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count Table of Contents Executive Overview ............................................................................................................................................................. 2 Three Steps to an Integrated Promotion Roadmap .......................................................................................................... 3 Step #1: Take Stock of Your Existing Program .................................................................................................................. 3 Connect the Dots ................................................................................................................................................................ 4 Step #2: Identify and Refine CTAs ...................................................................................................................................... 5 Step #3: Fill in the Holes with Incremental Media Opportunities .................................................................................... 7 Test. Then Test Some More ................................................................................................................................................ 7 Conclusion ........................................................................................................................................................................... 8 Three Steps to an Integrated Promotion Roadmap As mentioned above, the key to an effective promotion engine is to create a comprehensive plan that incorporates all of your online marketing activities. At Bulldog Solutions, we advocate a three-step, systematic approach, which I will outline in this white paper: 1. Take stock of your existing program: Capture and scrutinize your existing marketing calendar and channels to identify opportunities to stretch your brand conversation and identify specific conversion points in your marketing program. 2. Identify and refine calls to action (CTAs): Drive your prospects to specific conversion points, tailoring each call to action to the vehicle for maximum relevance and perception of value. 3. Fill in the holes with incremental media opportunities: Evaluate your media program on an ongoing basis to identify and address areas of declining performance, and dedicate more resources, if needed, to high-performing areas. Step #1: Take Stock of Your Existing Program If your organization is like most, you already have many ongoing initiatives in your marketing program. You’re using a variety of vehicles to accomplish your goals: Webinars, e-mail campaigns, virtual (and in-person) trade shows and the like. And you’re using a variety of channels to reach your intended audience: A house newsletter, your Web site, your trade show booth, search engine marketing, channel partners, third-party list rentals and lead guarantee programs. Before approaching the development or refining of specific calls to action deployed across those programs to lead to increasing levels of engagement, you need to identify where opportunities exist in your current programs to build integration and cross-promote prospect traffic. www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009) 3 © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.
    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count The logical place to start is with your marketing calendar. Within the typical BtoB marketing calendar, there are often gaps between parallel programs that have no deliberate points of integration. These programs are operating as disconnected entities. Regardless of whether these are the result of organizational structures or intentional team alignment, they represent missed opportunities to cross-pollinate. Begin by capturing your marketing calendar in a dynamic visual format and walking through each component with your marketing team to understand its overall value to your program. What are the goals? What are the metrics by which success is measured? For each marketing vehicle—Webinar, trade show, e-mail campaign—clearly identify an owner as well as any requirements specific to its use. This will help you begin to understand where cross-promotion opportunities exist. Identify opportunities to cross-promote by putting your marketing calendar in a visual format. The objective is to leverage the activities that are already under way to build synergies across your program as a whole. Remember to be pragmatic. You’re trying to extend the effectiveness of your current program rather than re-architect a new one. Connect the Dots Once you’ve mapped out your calendar in this visual format, you’ll likely begin to see items that emerge as the cornerstone events of your marketing program. Often these events have dependencies which are outside your marketing control, and for this reason, are less flexible. In order to integrate with these events, you’re going to need to identify the right set of vehicles that can be used to support cross-promotion across these initiatives and channels. Ultimately, this exercise is designed to help build and grow an ongoing conversation with your prospects. For example, the follow-up e-mails after a Webinar could contain a registration call to action to attend an upcoming trade show on the same topic. A follow-up e-mail to qualified leads gleaned at a trade show could drive to an exclusive briefing on a piece of relevant research, or another, similar high-value offering. The best place to start is by identifying and highlighting the core components. For example, if your organization maintains a strong physical event practice, there are probably several key events such as trade shows that you are committed to attending on an annual basis. Typically, these events are locked on your calendar months in advance and offer very little room for flexibility. However, there are a wide variety of tactics within your arsenal of marketing tools that can be deployed, both in advance of and after these events, to support calls to action that drive your prospects to engage further with your online brand. www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009) 4 © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.
    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count Identify specific opportunities that support cross-promotion across your marketing initiatives and channels. Many of these tactics have already been identified and are currently scheduled within your marketing calendar. Flag these specific tactics and focus your brainstorming efforts around how to position these events in such a way that they create opportunities to link your cornerstone events together. You may not have a large trade show presence. Perhaps you’re relying on a meticulously developed Webinar series for which you’re offering one-off and series registration. The dates for that must be set far in advance to make series registration work, so the same rules apply. You’ll have to work around that series. Step #2: Identify and Refine CTAs Once you have a strong understanding of your current initiatives, you can identify (or refine) simple calls to action that can be leveraged to extend the conversation across promotion channels and drive your prospects to conversion points. An effective CTA drives users to an offering or point of fulfillment where the promise is delivered. Put in more simple terms, the call to action is the mechanism that links your promise (“Solve your issue by learning more about topic A”) to the fulfillment of your value offering (a white paper on topic A). In considering your calls to action, you must also consider the delivery vehicle. The delivery vehicle enables your call to action to be positioned in front of your prospect. The purpose of the delivery vehicle is to provide context and to create the promise of value that will be delivered. For example, a visitor to your corporate Web site may be in the process of gathering product or service information and, as a result, will respond better to a call to action driving to informational resources such as a resource library or a white paper. On the other hand, if your prospects are visiting a themed microsite environment, they may respond best to CTAs driving to rich media or experiential offerings. www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009) 5 © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.
    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count Calls to action may take the form of lower-value opt-in opportunities like “Subscribe to this newsletter” or higher value offers such as surveys and assessments. For example, an organization that maintains a strong physical event program by attending many trade shows will capture many prospects through face-to-face contact at their booth. The trade show booth is the “vehicle” in this case. A prospect who discovers an organization in this high-value environment may only take advantage of a call to action that drives to an offering of similar or higher value. This may come in the form of a product trial or download, or even an invitation to a future, exclusive event. Lower touch marketing activities such as e-mail or Web site impressions may require a less sophisticated and resource-intensive effort to engage prospects with calls to action, because the expectations are different. Calls to action that are commonly used to encourage activity among prospects can range from a simple “Add to Cart” (in a BtoC commerce setting) or “Register” button, or can be as complex as an invitation to participate in an online assessment. Some of the more common CTAs that are typical across a wide variety of Web sites include: Register Refer a colleague Download Opt In/Opt out Contact me View Sign up Listen Subscribe Visit Examine sources of incremental media to fill gaps. www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009)  © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.
    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count Step #3: Fill in the Holes with Incremental Media Opportunities Once you’ve identified opportunities to leverage calls to action across existing vehicles, you must now turn your attention to the gaps in your program. You should consider all of these gaps as opportunities for incremental media to bridge the gaps and keep up momentum. Incremental media can include third-party vendors such as publications and trade associations. It can also include databases of content and channel partners. We recommend assessing available incremental media in all of these forms. Don’t neglect to include partners and associations that might provide good promotion channels without significant cost. If you’re going to be working with a media vendor, selecting the right media vendor can be a daunting task. It’s often helpful to deconstruct the task and begin by identifying the right mix of products to address the gaps in your program. Today’s online media providers are constantly evolving their product offerings to differentiate themselves and meet market demand. As a result, there are many more opportunities to purchase highly customized offerings that are designed to impact very specific components of your program. As you begin to evaluate the alternatives, you’ll discover that there are some media offerings that will be better suited than others at meeting your specific program needs. For example, many media providers offer lead guarantee programs where a specific number of leads are purchased and the provider has various means to deliver them. These types of programs deliver real benefits in the form of “hands-off” management and certainty of results. List rentals provide an economical tool to fill the void, but must be carefully thought out or you may suffer less than stellar results. Each of these tools can fill an appropriate place in your program. Ultimately their net contribution to your overall acquisition goals will determine their suitability and ROI. The core of this exercise is to define the specific type of media that will fulfill the needs of your program, and identify relevant media providers for valuation. With your target set of media providers identified, group similar offerings to easily support comparative vendor testing. Test. Then Test Some More. In my white paper, “Three Steps to Developing Effective Calls to Action,” (available at www.bulldogsolutions.com/bulldogma) I refer to message testing to identify and refine resonant messages. Testing also plays into a promotion plan. Testing and re-testing help to quantify performance goals and provide the data needed to optimize the program. I advocate hypothesis testing, an approach that tends to prove or disprove expected outcomes. It can be especially useful in helping to refine your portfolio of media providers. When approaching an A/B split test, the desired outcome is to validate statistical performance of one message over another where all other variables are held constant. In a similar manner, we can “pit” similar media providers against one another to evaluate their respective performance over time. For example, consider a typical media buy where a single vendor is used to provide a cross-section of media inventory. Splitting the budget across multiple vendors can provide an opportunity for direct comparisons, since message, timing and, to a certain extent, audience will be held constant. Once the campaign data has been collected, marketing decisions can be made to evolve your program and determine the best place for your resources. www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009) 7 © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.
    • Bulldog Solutions Promotion Planning: Maximize Your Marketing Calendar by Making Every Channel Count It goes without saying however, that vendor testing programs often require more time and fiscal resources to fully execute. So why bother? Simply put, media vendors have a single asset that is under continual pressure from monetization activity. While each vendor is different, there are some certainties with regards to list-based e-mail marketing. Over time, mismanagement of a list through inactivity, over-activity, stagnation and attrition will drive decreased performance over time and negatively impact the cost per lead of your programs. A list that once performed well for you might change over time. The onus is upon BtoB marketers to proactively manage this reality and continually optimize the vendor portfolio. Test different media vendors to evaluate their respective performance over time. Conclusion Building an effective promotion roadmap for online marketing means going beyond a series of individual media buys driving to one specific call to action. The three steps outlined in this white paper will help you move toward a comprehensive plan that incorporates all of your online marketing activities and leverages opportunities to cross-promote through various channels and build on existing traffic. Ahmed Taleb is Senior Director of Strategic Planning at Bulldog Solutions, the lead-generation optimization and management company. Visit www.bulldogsolutions.com or e-mail info@bulldogsolutions.com to learn more. www.bulldogsolutions.com Promotion_Planning V1 (03/2009) 8 © 2009 Bulldog Solutions, Inc.