4 Tips For Brand Marketers: Let The 2020 Planning Begin!
As the fall leaves change and a bit of Minnesota snow starts to appear, with it comes the next year of planning for corporate marketing, agency and communications professionals. We start to ask, “What strategies worked this year?” “What can we takeaway for next year?” “How will these plans move the needle forward?” As you begin your 2020 marketing planning and budgeting, consider these four tips:
1. It’s a Data Driven World
Data isn’t new. But in a crowded landscape, the way that you use data to tell your brand story is becoming more and more important. Say, for instance, that you’re the “largest producer” in your space – how do you quantify this distinction and leverage it to stand apart? Or you know that your customers value X. You just can’t prove that they value X and thus, can’t quite tell that story the way you want. Now is the time to identify how you’ll gather that data to be able to confidently, and factually, tell your brand story. Whether it’s a customer survey, developing an ambassador program or sourcing a third-party survey, data will enhance the story you’re telling in 2020, especially with the news media.
For example, Enterprise Rent-A-Car measures customer loyalty by asking two simple questions – what was the quality of their rental experience and what is the likelihood that they would rent from the company again?
By asking these two questions each month, the company is able to pull data for its 5,000 U.S. branches within days and give the branches feedback on how they are performing and identify leading branches that could share best practices. Enterprise also possesses data that they can use in marketing that proves the overall happiness of previous customers. No one wants to start a vacation with a bad rental car experience. They’re giving future customers insights into what experience they can expect by choosing Enterprise.
2. It’s Not About the Channel
Regardless of whether your business is B2B or B2C, the way that customers reach, and research, you have changed. From social media to ecommerce and podcasts to print, there are more channels then ever for a potential customer to engage with your brand. As the channels have grown, so have customer expectations. Customers expect a seamless shopping experience from one channel to the next. Creating an approach to be channel-specific leaves out one crucial element -- the customer experience. Instead, we need to tear down the silos of channel level marketing and focus on giving customers what they really want – an easy way to shop anywhere, anytime, while having the best experience.
So, when you think Walgreens, what comes to mind? Is it a channel: a store or ecommerce site? Or is it just the brand – Walgreens? In a Forbes article, Walgreens describes its omnichannel strategy as “Whatever. Wherever, Whenever” or 3W. With its 3W approach, the brand has seen customers spending up to six times more than customers who shop in store. With Walgreens’ mobile app, consumers can find all the details they’d expect including store location and hours. But Walgreens has taken its customer experience a step further. Ready to refill a prescription? Scan it in the app. Have a question for the pharmacist? Connect with an expert 24/7 for free. Buying an item and wondering if there are coupons? Check the app. Walgreens even offers a gamification component that rewards consumers for making healthy choices and tracking them through the app. With consistent branding and putting the customer experience at the forefront of its strategy, Walgreens has increased sales and provided relevant services to customers.
3. Budget: Dream or Reality?
Most of us have endured budgeting meetings. Even second, third, fourth rounds of budgeting meetings. Round 1: Dream big. Include it all and let’s see what happens. Round 2: Updated forecast means updated marketing budget. Round 3: We’re getting closer to what’s realistic but are still not completely aligned. It goes on. Of course, budgets are set to be guidelines and will require adjustment as business ebbs and flows. To minimize the number of revisions to a budget, start with defining success and set realistic goals. Nothing sets a team up for failure faster than setting unrealistic goals before the new year kicks off.
4. Leverage Your Partners
I recently came across an article that claims only 19% of a company’s PR personnel are involved in developing its marketing strategy. Whether your public relations team is internal or external, your 2020 strategy will be more cohesive and aligned if all marketing partners have a seat at your table to understand the key objectives, share ideas and ensure that all tactics are driving those end results. Here are a few questions that you should be asking of your marketing partners:
- What efforts can drive our business forward?
- What results can we expect from this initiative?
- Why did a previous campaign work and what insights should we learn?
- How can we repeat, or improve upon, the success that we have had?
- How can you help us with X pain point?
- Where can we enhance our strategy?
As you reflect on 2019 and begin strategies for the next year, focus on the story you want to tell, the data that drives your message forward, and the experience that you want your customer to have. Call your marketing partners; invite them to the table and start mapping out where 2020 can take your brand.
Katie Hickman is a senior account executive at Minneapolis-based Maccabee, a strategic public relations and online marketing agency.