Now that you’ve done the research and analysis into creating your marketing strategy as outlined in part 1, you’re ready to write your marketing strategy.
Writing your strategy
Most leaders are well versed in strategic planning and understand the difference between a strategy and a plan. Your marketing strategy, or marcomms (marketing and communications) strategy, should not just be a list of activities and deadlines – that comes later.
Your strategy will most likely have the following headings:
Your vision should be well known to your community and your stakeholders. It may be your strapline or a statement on your website. Your marcomms strategy should align to your vision, so start there.
The starting point for your marketing strategy is to be clear about what you want to achieve. Your objectives should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-bound) but also within the control of your communications activity. Objectives that are too broad will be influenced by other factors and hard to evaluate.
For example, ‘Improve communication with volunteers’ is hard to measure. Better would be: “70% of volunteers feel communication is good or better, as measured by survey results”. Or for schools, ‘attract an additional 10 pupils into Reception’ will be subject to a variety of factors. ‘Increasing enquiries from parents about nursery provision by 25%’ is better.
- Key audiences
Next, note down who specifically you need to reach in order to achieve your objectives. You may want to split them into primary audiences, whether that’s prospective parents, service users or donors; and secondary audiences, or influencers, who will help you achieve your objectives. This may be partner organisations, referral agencies, or feeder schools.
Ideally you will have identified three or four key messages that you want to get across to each audience. Your messages should relate back to your vision and what makes your organisation unique. Having clarity around the messages for each audience helps to keep your communication sharp, succinct and memorable. If you try to include everything, you will sound like everyone else and you won’t stand out.
The next step is to consider the most appropriate communication channels to reach each audience. How do they prefer to receive information? What channels are they most likely to respond to? For instance, while many teachers use Twitter as a communication medium in their professional lives, potential parents are more likely to gravitate to Facebook and Instagram. Equally, putting up posters in feeder schools, rather than an email campaign, may work best for inviting prospective parents to open evenings.
Once you are clear about your audiences, messages and communication channels, plotting these into a grid is a useful way of sharing the information with others who are involved in actioning your marcomms strategy and plan. It also is a useful tool to refer to when writing your plan.
Finally, you are ready to create your plan. Under each objective, you should list the actions, timeline, and person responsible for making it happen. Your review of existing materials and past activity, SWOT and competitor analyses, USP and resources (see preparing to write your strategy) should give you a good indication of where to start and what to include. Be realistic about what you can achieve – include fewer actions but commit to doing them thoroughly and consistently. You can scale up activity as you see what works and what doesn’t. Which brings us to the final point…
As with many things, it can be a challenge to measure the true impact of your marcoms strategy because of other factors that come into play.
However there are indicators you can use to help evaluate the impact of marketing activity:
• Attendance at events
• Enquiries from potential customers, service users or volunteers
• Positive engagement on social media
• Positive mentions in the local press
• Visits to the website, measured through Google analytics
With online communication channels – text message, apps, email and your website – you should be able to access data on how many people have opened, downloaded, clicked and responded. If you’re unsure, check with your technology provider.
The important thing is to review regularly and tweak your plan based on what works and what doesn’t.
When budgets are tight, spending time and resources on marketing can seem like a luxury. However, if the plan is focused and targeted, and helps to achieve your organisational objectives, it is an investment well worth making.