It seems as though many people choose to institute the “hope and pray” marketing strategy: Choose a method to send out your message then hope and pray that it works! But why take a shot in the dark when you don’t have to? This week’s blog is focused on the four concrete things you can do to get the most out of your marketing budget. Since we are photographers, and not marketing experts, we’ve called on the knowledge of marketing professionals from across Indianapolis to help you hit the mark in your marketing goals.
1) RESEARCH: Vanessa Stiles
I may just blow your mind with what I am about to tell you, but here it goes… <deep breath> public relations is a science.
More specifically, public relations is a behavioral science and an effective public relations plan, like any science practice, starts with research. Whether you choose informal or formal, secondary or primary, or a combination of research types and methods, a business or organization must complete research to establish a baseline. From there, the leadership team can confirm target audiences, measurable objectives, channels of communication, and effective strategies.
What do you do if dollars are limited and you cannot devote a healthy budget to empirical research and analysis? Here are a few tactics you can use to obtain data when your budget is limited:
- Turn to your industry: Often professional, trade, and networking associations compile and publish research findings that you can use.
- Survey existing customers: Whether you use an online free survey tool or select a few key customers for one-on-one conversations, find out what customers expect and need, how they found you, whether they’d refer you, basic demographics, and/or behavioral trends.
- Measure cash flow trends: Cash is king, right? Review the ebb and flow of a designated fiscal period. Use the data to uncover trends, compare with similar organizations, and establish benchmarks.
Vanessa Stiles, APR is President & CEO of Victory Sun, Inc and holds the esteemed accreditation in public relations (APR) designation. Fueled by a passion for client’s victories, Victory Sun offers a diverse menu of services from community events to national public relations plans. Vanessa is a member of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and served as president of the PRSA Hoosier Chapter in 2014. Click here for Vanessa’s LinkedIn profile.
2) Planning/Strategy: Julie Pitts
The most important aspect involved in marketing is to develop your marketing strategy. Many companies step forward with components of a marketing plan, like social media or updating their website, but don’t have a strategy behind why they have done so. They embrace the “build it and they will come” mentality. But marketing strategy is critical to knowing 1) why you are engaging in different marketing initiatives, and 2) in building the foundation upon which you implement all marketing tools and tactics. Establishing a strategic marketing plan positions companies to successfully identify their target client, the best tools available, a focused implementation plan, and ongoing marketing maintenance.
Julie Pitts, VP of client strategy at MEMO Marketing Group, has over 20 years’ of client, global accounts, and business development strategy experience. She has been instrumental in propelling MEMO Marketing Group’s expansion through new client acquisition and ongoing business growth strategies. For 11 years, she owned a successful business consulting company, which focused on providing clients with marketing, sales, software and sales training, and recruiting tactics. Click here to see Julie’s LinkedIn profile.
3) Implementation: Jordan Hunt
This phase of every marketing effort is when the plan becomes a reality. It’s important to build on the foundation of the research and planning that have taken place before this. At Pivot, we’re always looking at the objectives, strategy, and target audience to determine which tactics to implement. For some clients and/or campaigns, this involves an advertising campaign complete with TV, radio, and outdoor ads. Others are best served by using digital ads and social media. It’s never a one size fits all approach. But, regardless of the tactic, it’s vital that the creative components (the look, voice, etc.) feel authentic to the brand and speak directly to the target audience where they are. Otherwise, all the research and planning is all for naught.
As a Brand Manager at Pivot Marketing, Jordan Hunt helps uncover market insights, develop effective strategies, and guide creative processes for his clients. During his tenure at the agency, he has led brand foundation and campaign projects for Axis Architecture + Interiors, Hedges, and Hendricks Commercial Properties among others. He graduated from Indiana University with a degree in telecommunications and marketing. Click here for Jordan’s LinkedIn profile.
4) Evaluation: Alexandra Segal
Ask most people where evaluation falls in the marketing process, and chances are, they’ll tell you “somewhere near the end.” That seems logical; after all, you usually save your evaluation until the project is finished. We all tend to save our most critical eye for completed projects.
Many people think of evaluation as taking a snapshot of outcomes at the end to prove to a client that something worked or failed. But the fact of the matter is, if you’re waiting until the end (and I’m sorry to say this) it’s probably too late to evaluate. How much good will it do to wonder if an outfit is too flashy for a dinner party five minutes before you leave?
Design ideas should be evaluated repeatedly to make sure they meet a client’s goals and specifications. Consider asking the following questions:
- Does this meet the design need or situation?
- Does this meet the needs of the intended users?
- Does this fit the purpose for which it was intended?
Evaluation can, and should, be used as an ongoing management and learning tool to improve on your success and effectiveness. Before you burst your seams at your next fancy dinner party, perhaps following a different model would do some good: Research – EVALUATE – Plan – EVALUATE – Implement (you guessed it!) – EVALUATE. It’s such an important step!
Alexandra (Alex) Segal is a multidisciplinary designer, creator and crafter from Indianapolis, Indiana. You name it — website, magazine ad, invitation, billboard, radio jingle, television commercial, book layout — and chances are she’s done it! Alex specializes in the following: • Graphic Design – Web, Digital and Print • Copywriting • Logo Design/Brand Development • Marketing Plan Development • Marketing Automation. Click here for Alex’s LinkedIn profile.