In recent days I’ve started thinking about our second half of 2019 plan and came across an old file, a 2018 planning deck. I looked through a few slides, remembering how much time my team had put into getting campaigns aligned, our calendar precisely mapped out, and priorities outlined.
We barely followed any of it. As the boxer Mike Tyson once said, “Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.”
Though we’re not in a boxing ring, the sentiment applies to marketing: needs and priorities change in the blink of an eye, other trends emerge and pull you in different directions, new executives shakeup the vision for your business strategy. And none of that you can truly plan for.
Marketers like planning because it gives us a sense of control, organization and vision for how things will rollout. While we go to painstaking lengths to create these plans that detail our actions, though, the market is evolving. By the time you’ve conceived the perfect plan, it’s no longer what the market needs anymore.
Time is the magical, but a forgotten ingredient in many marketing initiatives. But our antiquated “planning” mindset hinders us in today’s always-on world. Instead, you need to foster a scrappy mindset amongst your team. At its heart, marketing is about putting out a message. Scrappy marketing is about doing that quickly and resourcefully. Don’t worry about getting things perfect,; worry about getting things done.
Here’s how you can maximize your team’s time, get scrappy and get ahead of your competitors.
Become a trusted, go-to resource
All of us have websites we visit every day and trust. These have usually been news organizations, but more than ever there are brand voices that provide valuable content and insights. From CMO.com by Adobe or Woolly Magazine by Casper, more consumers are looking to brands for their expertise and opinions.
Developing your brand into a trusted news source is therefore a double-edged sword: readers are more receptive to taking your content seriously and engaging with it. But there’s more competition and noise than before. It’s critical that you carve out a strong voice and identify the areas where you truly want to be a thought leader. It’s best to start with a narrow focus and gain credibility for your expertise than to go broad initially and not be taken seriously. You can always expand the number of topics you discuss.
Many of us trust or don’t trust certain news sources in our personal lives; and that mindset is starting to bleed into our professional lives, too, as more people view brands as news producers themselves. You want your audience to trust and rely on your company’s insights.
Distinguish from competitors by being always on
The news cycle is 24 hours a day, and can change in the time it takes to publish a single Tweet. If your marketing is not always on as well, you’re already behind. You need to have a relentless, steady stream of content that’s ready for your audience whenever they are.
How so? Have a proactive, not reactive marketing strategy. Develop avenues to get real-time feedback from customers and prospects to understand what they’re most curious or concerned about, and adapt your marketing accordingly. This feedback will help you discover where there’s white space in your industry, and what you should focus on when it comes to content creation.
Then develop the channels to get that content out – like a webinar series with weekly insights. Conductor’s 30 | 30 webinar, which recaps the last 30 days in search, social and content, is a good example. So is App Annie’s weekly Mobile Minute blogs, which provides insights into how mobile is impacting current events and consumer trends.
Whatever your channel, don’t let perfect get in the way of good. If there’s a news cycle that’s breaking and set to impact your market, do a quick video or webinar explaining what it means for your audience and what they should be watching for in the days to come. Send out an email with a couple paragraphs explaining the latest trend in simple, digestible bits of content. Re-use that email copy for blog and social posts. Share a quote from your CEO with relevant journalists who can copy and paste it into articles they are working on about this breaking story. Creating a strong voice is half the battle, but beating your competitors to the punch is also vital.
Structuring your team for success
You can’t plan for the unexpected, but you can create a flexible team. As a marketing leader, think about how your team is structured: are channels from demand gen to brand to public relations siloed? In reality, what aspects of marketing aren’t related to demand gen, brand, and your public relations? They’re all interwoven and when you’re siloed by channel, that’s the opposite of agile marketing.
Agile marketing is about an integrated scrum mindset, where all can collaborate and move things forward, together. Marketing shouldn’t be an assembly line, with team members waiting on others to finish their job to keep the ball rolling. That’s why siloed teams create execution gaps. So if you’re struggling to get your team all pulling in the same direction, you should revamp your team’s organization to be agile and react in real-time. Just remember that any moment spent waiting to publish is a moment where a prospect could be consuming your content. Through an always-on approach, scrappy, agile marketing allows you to build both visibility and engagement as your prospects enter the buying journey.
As you gear up for your second half plans for 2019, know that you’ll have to always create a general outline of priorities and initiatives. But ensure that everyone understands how much these priorities will (and should) change. If you are doing quality marketing and if you truly value your prospect’s time, then your marketing will actually be aligned with the times — and not with any rigid, outdated plan.