Okay, I am probably “2,000 n’ late” with my Prezi reference, but I think it makes a perfect analogy as to how you should construct your business’ marketing strategy.
This is the time when most businesses have next year’s vital questions creeping up in their minds, as marketers are asking themselves:
- What marketing tactics are working?
- Do we have the right partners and skill sets to accomplish our goals?
- How are we doing against competition?
- What programs should we look at next year, and do we have the right resources in place?
- How do we grow or sustain growth?
I have built numerous marketing plans over the years, and I can see parallels between my approach to determining where marketing should invest in the future and Prezi’s advantages over traditional presentation programs. Even though some are skeptical of the Prezi presentation style at first, as it can be a little distracting when trying to convey ideas or pitches, there are advantages to the program that closely mirror how marketers should communicate their plan. Consider, for example, the following four elements of Prezi design, and think from your audience’s point of view when formulating your marketing plan and conveying your vision:
Tell me a story
When building the marketing strategy, treat it like you are pitching a startup—make it into a story. Frame up what has happened, what is happening now and where should you go in the future to achieve your goals. Applying this approach allows you to revisit your benchmarks and the goals you set earlier (assuming you don’t remember!) and it is a great way to recollect what worked well, prompting you to emphasize those areas as the foundation to your plan. Even if there are negatives to cover, framing it as a learning experience as part of your overall story brings confidence and control back to your forecast. Trust me, it works, and it works well.
Examples of the story’s beginning:
- Where have you been and why are you here?
- What shaped your reasoning?
- Where do you want to go?
- Are you ready to take that direction?
Dive a few levels deep, but quickly come back
This can be the nausea-maker when it comes to Prezis, but I think it can be empowering for marketers to give a two-level point of view. You’re giving senior leadership a high-level view of your marketing shop with overall health and performance of your marketing programs, but you also demonstrate your willingness to dig down into metrics for problem-solving or opportunity-finding. Just don’t stay in the deep end too long! It can suck you in, especially if this is your comfort zone. My mantra is to go beyond the initial reports and try to find nuggets of gold in that second tier of the data dive… then resurface.
Examples of 2nd level data:
- Finding a hidden community of customers who responded positively to a campaign
- Identifying website trends beyond visitors—try an acquisition funnel or page flow charts to find hidden nuggets of info
- Look at 2nd tier of conversion data
Keep me entertained
Data, data, data. There is no doubt your company has enough data, and with data, you can make it tell you anything! I am sure you want to dazzle the audience with percentages, numbers and dollars, but I would challenge you to make sure you have more charts, graphs and infographics to support the story. Most people are visual learners and translating your wins, losses and opportunities via pictures helps bring life to your pitch.
Examples of great visuals:
- Customer/revenue growth
- Contacts breakdown and growth
- Updated SWOT
- Competitive analysis
Tell me what success looks like
Every story has an ending; your marketing strategy is no different. The biggest lift you can make to your credibility that will increase your chances for buy-in is to tell your audience what will happen if they follow your plan. This is probably the biggest takeaway from the Prezi analogy I can make: Know and show the finish line. I have seen great startup pitches and company growth plans that crescendo at the end with success being achieved. Do your homework with the numbers, double-check it and make that your last slide instead of the usual “Next Steps” or “Q&A” ones. Most likely, you will be asking for some kind of investment—either in people, outsourced partners (think SpinVista!) or hard dollars that will require direct management, tracking and a return. Be bold, be confident and complete your journey.
Examples of successful endings:
- Showing additional revenue growth through marketing activities
- Laying out the customer growth over the next few years through your new programs or investments
- Show comparisons of today versus your success state
- Why should the company take that ride with you?
Although I love the Prezi analogy, let’s put that aside for a moment and make sure you get my point. The bottom line in pitching your marketing plan is all about how and what you’re selling. As marketers, we need to be knowledgeable sales people that can develop, implement and, in some cases, re-engineer successful campaigns and programs. It’s the confidence that we exude in being the leaders of a company that thrives by either retaining and growing our customer base. Notice I wrote retaining first…let’s not forget this is easier and cheaper than acquiring new customers!
Ultimately, make your data and your vision come alive! A good story needs a plot. A great story needs a beginning, middle and end. If you need assistance with your marketing plan, let me know! Sometimes a good sounding board is all you need to let the creative data juices flowing.