How Opportunistic is Your 2017 Marketing Plan?
At a cocktail party over the holidays — yes, despite my best efforts to take a mental break from work, somehow all gatherings turn to business at some point — I found myself involved in an interesting discussion of the merits of continuous planning.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, continuous planning refers to the way you go about continually improving your organization, your business processes and the way your team works. Certainly, every company wants continuous improvement. But, what makes the concept tricky to implement is finding the most effective ways to study, plan, execute, evolve and sustain that improvement.
Between the mini-won tons and the bacon-wrapped scallops, my colleague and I agreed that what helps organizations best capitalize on the ideal of continuous planning is building into an enterprise the ability to pivot. That means embracing a philosophy that encourages businesses to try something new. Not capriciously or randomly. But, in the event that unexpected obstacles or, even better, opportunities arise.
Capturing New Opportunities Demands Flexibility
Back in September I wrote about how to create a winning marketing plan for 2017. That blog offers helpful, turn-by-turn directions to map your company’s marketing journey. My key point was that your marketing plan should revolve around identifying and implementing the most compelling ways to engage and captivate your audience.
But in her own piece on marketing planning, Kim Donlan, CEO of RedSwan5, makes a great point: Developing a rock-solid plan that has little flexibility is setting you and your brand up for failure.
Does your plan have enough flexibility?
With the Times Square ball drop a faint memory, you’ve probably already set your marketing budget for the new year and done the big-picture thinking to support your 2017 plan. But, perhaps you haven’t yet worked out all the details, the nuances.
If that’s the case, now is the time to build in that essential flexibility.
Here's an example of what I'm talking about. At ViewPoint, our marketing plan calls for us to exhibit at a certain number of trade shows this year. We’ve budgeted for these appearances, but we haven’t yet settled on exactly which shows. Sure, we have a few definites. But, we intentionally allowed for a little wiggle room to take advantage of a great opportunity that might present itself — here’s where continuous planning comes into play — by including some “opportunistic” funds in our budget.
These as-yet-unassigned funds give us a little cushion to explore shows we’ve never attended, for example. Or try out some new approaches at an established show to help us reach our customers in more powerful ways. All without busting our budget or derailing our plan.
You probably included some opportunistic funds in your marketing budget, too. So, wring the most value. Try some bold but low-risk tactics to give your marketing plan that extra shot of adrenaline. Maybe refresh your website with a hot new design or produce some interactive content featuring your latest product.
Whatever You Do, Be Smart About It
If you’re considering trying a new tech platform for brand storytelling or for showcasing your products and services, for instance, do your homework. Choose a platform or technology that’s been proven effective for delivering marketing messages in an memorable way.
Don’t just go with what’s trending on BuzzFeed.
Case in point: virtual reality. Sure, it’s cool. And, it’s definitely attracting attention in the tech press. You may have even seen some nascent VR on display at a recent trade show. But, according to industry analysts it’s not quite ready for prime time, even for early-adopter gamers. And certainly not for marketers.
Though research firm SuperData forecasts that the worldwide market for virtual, augmented and mixed reality will ultimately grow to $8.8 billion by 2020, the firm says mainstream adoption of virtual reality is “unlikely to happen in the next three years.” The tech is just not mature or reliable enough yet for most applications.
The takeaway is this: to continuously improve your business and best engage your audience in 2017, you need a flexible approach and solutions that are well-thought-out in order to make the most of your opportunistic funds.
So, do your research and go with what works.
(If you’d like to discover how ViewPoint could fit into your marketing mix in 2017, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org)