The answer: micro-planning.
The fact is, proactive, long-term marketing planning is not a viable option at the moment. Today, successful marketing requires more of a reactive tactic—not a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants approach, but rather a smart, short-term approach. That is, rather than creating a detailed six- to 12-month plan, focus on the next eight to 10 weeks.
Ultimately, your goal in marketing is to hit the right audience at the right time with a message that will resonate in that moment. To do that, you always need to be asking:
- Who is my target?
- What is my message?
- What tools am I using to communicate that message to my target?
Those three foundational elements remain unchanged, regardless of the economic climate. What does change, particularly these days, is how frequently you ask the questions.
Each component requires a different level of forethought. For example, your communication vehicles offer the most predictability and will likely hold up over the next year (though will continue to evolve as all things do). Your target audience is harder to anticipate as the business climate continues to ebb and flow (think: the hospitality industry vs. healthcare). Your audience won’t change by the day or week, but it will evolve as world events unfold. Your messaging, on the other hand, could change weekly as you address your audience’s pain in that moment—pain that is largely determined by the unpredictable news narrative and evolving government mandates.
Best practices for micro-planning:
Micro-planning doesn’t require a complete overhaul of your marketing function—just a few tweaks to your approach to ensure you’re hitting the mark. Here are some strategies that work:
- Pay attention. Ask around. Do your own market research and get a finger on the pulse of how people are feeling. Talk to members of your audience and centers of influence, or even tap those mastermind groups.
- Craft a framework. Loosely plan your audience, messaging and delivery for the next six months, so you have an idea of where you want to go, but detail the specifics in shorter, eight- to 10-week chunks of time.
- Have weekly strategy sessions. Set aside time every week to review your current strategy. When you give yourself the headspace to think, you’ll be more equipped to adjust as needed, thereby minimizing the stress of a reactive pivot.
- Think with others. Find a strategic partner or collaborator with whom you can brainstorm. The best ideas come from a healthy back-and-forth that offers multiple perspectives.
- Revisit your messaging. Before you launch any campaign, take one last look at your message to see if it still maps to your audience’s current pain. What may have worked a week or two ago may no longer make sense.
- Include content that won’t change. Give yourself some semblance of predictability in your messaging by supplementing your timely content with evergreen content that stands the test of time.
In other words, plan what you can but be willing to adapt. Micro-planning is a great way to ensure you’re getting the right message to the right audience at the right time—even during a pandemic—so you can crush your next campaign.
Rachel Durkan is President of Paradigm Marketing and Design, a web, branding and marketing agency, that has helped thousands of clients make millions of dollars. Rachel has co-authored two books and has been recognized for her achievements in entrepreneurship and marketing. Some accolades include the NJ Biz top 40 under 40 business professionals, recognition as an Enterprising Women Awardee, a Top 25 Brand Builder, and, for Paradigm as a whole, the Morris County Chamber Small Business of the Year, and over 15 GDUSA awards for graphic design excellence. https://www.paradigmmarketinganddesign.com/