One of my favourite clients owns a well-established restaurant. However, despite their considerable restaurant experience, they have found themselves requiring a hefty amount of marketing assistance to appeal to newer audiences.
When I came along, their menu of promotional tactics was something of a – dare I say, dog’s breakfast.
Yes, they’d invested in many of the right areas – publicity, website, Facebook marketing and so on. The problem was that the investment wasn’t being allocated correctly and the execution was poor.
They had spent way too much on publicity, had their radio ads on the wrong station and had hired an amateurish digital marketer.
So by the time I got to them, it really was a case of getting their all their marketing ducks lined up prior to firing a shot at their market.
Urgent marketing action required
The problem was, their previous promotions has failed them so badly, they needed some promotional hooks out there whilst we got their house in order.
In marketing terms, this is a bit like actors going on stage with the previous play’s scenery. The lines come out but they don’t make a lot of sense.
While some of these unplanned tactics can make a difference, a good digital marketer knows that it will never be as good as a campaign that is carefully thought out, prepared and executed.
Don’t be too trigger-happy
A promotional message needs to be carefully thought out with care taken to ensure it reaches all of your available market prior to rolling out the next one.
One of the side effects of having so much direct access to our digital communications tools is that few smaller businesses resist the temptation to create yet another message on, say, Facebook when it hasn’t been properly rolled out to markets in other ways such as the website, email and so on.
For my client, in a perfect world, a full marketing plan would have been written for the year. However, the need for quick results meant skipping straight to the promotional plan.
As a guide, here’s how it should have evolved.
In short, what we are trying to achieve, who are we pitching to and what is the desired result. How will you ‘position’ your product in the marketplace, e.g. is it discount, middle, premium etc
Many have the budget allocated much later in the planning stages but by setting it out upfront, it helps eliminate promotional tactics that are financially out of reach.
3. Tactic selection
Based on experience and an evaluation of available means, create a wish list of promotional tactics and narrow it down to be the most practical and affordable within the period of time.
4. Creative Development
Identify the core messages you wish to convey and the ‘image’ you want for your brand. Create a plan for the various creative components you need, who is going to create them and when.
How will different promotional tactics dovetail into others? For example, a blog piece can be published on your website and onto third party websites, be emailed to your list and promoted via social media.
6. Action plan
Once tactics have been identified and creative put in place, create a list of higher level actions broken down into tasks, responsibilities and deadlines.
7. Calendar of promotional activities
Draw up your calendar of what promotional pieces go out at different times during the year. Given the style and nature of social media, this can drill right down to daily planning – even setting the specific time it should be distributed.
8. Other Preparation
What other aspects need to be prepared? For example, is your website in good enough shape to withstand the constant addition of different promotional and informational messages? Do you have enough resources to co-ordinate the various requirements of your campaign?
Once all is in place, you can start to roll out each aspect of your promotional campaign.
10. Monitor and improve
None of your promotional campaign can afford to be ‘set and forget’ these days. Each component needs to be monitored to ensure effectiveness in converting to sales. The beauty of digital media is that it can be changed quickly if required.
11. Review and Start Over
It’s important to set an end point for your campaign so as to properly assess its importance and collate lessons for future campaigns. You will have learnt a lot along the way so it’s a great idea to take stock of how different tactics stacked up against their objectives and identify how each can be improved or dispensed with altogether.
There will be many variations on this approach but these steps provide a good basis for most smaller businesses. Of course, if you don’t have the skills or time to create such a plan, there are plenty of affordable providers ready and willing to assist.
Now, all I need is to manage to get some time out from executing my client’s immediate plan to go back and get their fundamental planning in place.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.