If time is money, and the competition are at your heels, and the windows of opportunity are closing, then getting quickly down to the nitty-gritty of your marketing communications plan is hugely important. One of the great lessons to learn about communicating is to keep it simple, simple is always better; and this goes for mapping out an effective and highly-readable marketing communications strategy, too.
There's the hard way and then there's the effective way to plan, and you most definitely want to take the path of least resistance when it comes to creating solid yet simple marcomm plans for your next campaign. Whether it's a product launch or a mid-stream campaign, here are the basic steps to creating a four- to five-page plan (three if you reduce the font) that will keep your team on the same page and concentrated on strategy and results rather than document creation.
The short and simple sections of your Marcomm Plan 1. Introduction. Why are we doing this? Your introduction will be a few short lines on the reason for this campaign, what the context is and what you're trying to achieve. Keep it concise, focused and digestible;
2. Objectives. What are your top three to four objectives for the campaign? These can be various to include market penetration, new customer acquisitions, sales growth, sign ups, and awareness. Be specific about the achievements you want to meet;
3. Key Considerations. What do you need to keep in mind as you plan and roll out your campaign? These can include customer attitudes and behaviours, possible buyer personas, media, the competition or competitive pressures, issues or opportunities in the market, strengths to capitalize on, weaknesses you need to address; whatever needs to be top of mind as you build your campaign should be in play. 3. Key Messages. What's your USP? Why should people buy from you? What are your top key messages? It's smart to keep these to three or four and no more than five. These should all be written from a customer benefit standpoint, how what you are promoting helps the customer in benefit-driven language. If the function is, say, speed (as in a new processor chip or computer), what does speed do for your customer? 4. Target Audiences. Who needs to know? Audiences here include your prospective customers and should also include media, such as mass media, niche publications, and online outlets or influencers. If there are specific media outlets and personalities you want to reach, these will be noted in your launch grid.
5. Strategy. What is your overall strategy for the campaign you're launching? What is your basic channel strategy, including direct and indirect channel selling? How do you plan to go to market from a strategy POV? 6. Tactics. How will you be distributing your campaign and reaching customers? Here you can include social media advertising (identifying which platforms), websites, content and blogs, email, PPC, other online advertising, outdoor advertising, television, radio, podcasts, direct mail and more. Whatever ways in which you plan to reach your customers will be listed here, in brief.
7. Schedule. Your campaign schedule is not your workback schedule for production of tactical elements, though you can create a summary column for this activity if you want. . The campaign strategy will start the day of launch, built in a simple table identifying all tactics, the timing of release of those tactics, audience for each tactic, distribution (as in the case of an email campaign using segmented lists, or targeted media persons, or influencers), key message(s) for each audience segment, the action you want each audience segment to take once they interact with the tactic aimed at them, and the person on your team responsible for each part of the strategy rollout. 8. Campaign analysis. How do you plan on measuring the success of your campaign objectives? Usually measurement will be a mix of things, including real sales effect, new customer acquisitions, new markets penetrated, increased awareness, positive sentiment, traffic, shares, likes, and followers.
Including a cover page and a table of contents, your plan shouldn't be more than about six or seven pages total, with four to five of it your tightly-written, concise, and meaningful strategy. You can get fancy all day long, but when it comes down to it, the less time you spend fluffing up your plan, the more time you'll have to think through and do what needs to be done to achieve your marketing communications objectives, and the faster you can get to market to stay ahead of the competition.