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Plan to win the war, execute to win the battles

When I read a recent article that twenty-somethings are changing between electric and media platforms every two minutes, it started me thinking. Not just about the impact technology is having on communications but about the need for marketers to be able to react faster, adapt more and be flexible to the ongoing changing dynamics of the modern communications landscape.

There have been numerous articles, posts and blogs about the volume of information people now have to digest on a daily and hourly basis. For me, the big challenge is not how to track new media channels it is more about how to be fluid and flexible with campaigns and activities to leverage the opportunities and exploit these for your brand.

Plan to win the war, execute to win the battles.

Organisations and marketers tend to try and plan 12 months in advance, in some cases longer. With the changes mentioned above, does it still allow marketers to plan this far in advance? From a business perspective you need to have your roadmap, your strategy and key objectives. The difference for me is that you still need to give your brand tactical room to maneuver or react to the environment they are living in.

Have the plan that shows how your brand will ultimately succeed. Along the way identify the short term opportunities that you can win. You don’t need to particiapnt in all of them, choose your opportunities and know how they will drive you on the journey to deliver your brand objectives.  

You need to be relevant & disruptive.

The traditional sales timeline is shorter than it used to be but that doesn’t mean the process is shorter from the buyers perspective. The change is that buyers are doing more research on their own, they are now engaging a salesperson later in the process. They are more informed and educated than previously. As they are doing their research before they reach out to you, you have to disrupt them during this research.

If you want your brand to appear current, then it will need to be relevant and interesting. Knowing and planning for what is going to be current 12 months in advance is difficult. These activities still need to reflect the bigger picture but execute them in the short term helps to ensure they grab the attention of the buyer doing their research.

Remember that you should not simply restrict your flexible or tactical activities to new media and digital outlets. Press, TV and radio are fluid mediums also but generally not considered to be.

Stay Tuned In

Knowing your audience and trusting your gut will be key to successfully utilizing short term opportunities for long term brand gain.

Listen & monitor conversations about your brand, your competitors and your market. Use traditional research to identify trends and unearth insights. Listening and monitoring tools are sign posts on your journey.

Examples

Here are some examples of successful short term activities as part of a long term plan:

·         Johnson, Mooney & O’Brien is one of Ireland’s favourite bread brands. They also happen to be the surnames of three Irish cricket players. When Ireland beat one of the world’s leading Cricket nations, the bread brand grabbed the opportunity around this event to push their Irish message. They ran a press ad the following day – press can be flexible.

·         Bet365 – betting companies need to embrace short term tactics to survive in their industry. Bet365 has taken this insight together with the trend of watching live events while also being online to introduce a series of half time TV spots during football matches to highlight live odds. The spots deliver the brand message but the inclusion of live odds enables the brand to be relevant or innovate in the eyes of their customers. Again, this is delivered through TV – you don’t need 6-9 month windows for TV ads.

·         Hellmanns – The Unilever brand is delivering the ultimate in flexible personalization with recipes printed on the back of grocery receipts based on what shoppers purchased. Utilising digital print enables Hellmanns to serve a tailored recipe to shoppers

Wrap Up

Brands still need plans to give them direction but marketers need to have the skills and ability to adapt tactical activities to maximize unplanned opportunities (or challenges). With the growing importance of content marketing, if brands stick to 12 month plans they run the risk of not being relevant is the eyes of consumers. Flexibility is key but you need to ensure you don’t deviate from our course.