Forests and trees


Have you noticed how sometimes in the modern marketing context it’s hard to see past the end of a day, week or month?  Briefs, strategies and plans start to blur into one another and priorities and objectives stack up becoming a mess of linked but unclear overlapping initiatives and activities – in short, has the big picture become obfuscated from view?

Communication planning means different things to different people. And under that banner sits a whole range of different applications.

Today we’re talking about it in consideration of big picture comms frameworks. These are principles that are applied to whole organisations or portfolios, thinking which can help inform and structure marketing planning.

The problems these principles address are the type we see a lot and generally involve a lack of clarity – and even acknowledgment – of the big picture.

Briefs often exist in a vacuum.  Campaigns and tactics come in from different stakeholders or departments with compartmentalised objectives. Often organisations move from one thing to the next without consideration of the overlaps and mutually beneficial interactions of comms. Failing to see how they all work together as a larger connected system.

By developing a comms framework you are essentially helping to take stock of and decode this big picture view.  But breaking it down can help to organise and make the planning process easier, more consistent, and more efficient.

There are many ways to approach these projects.  But a pretty simple technique which can offer decision makers genuine insight and value to their organisation is to establish and bucket your marketing activities by mode.

What do we mean by mode?

Most organisations will pretty quickly be able to pin-point the three to four things that the majority of their marketing activities are meant to be doing.  These will be common tasks and objectives like ‘driving sales’ or ‘website enquiries’, or ‘differentiating for consideration’ or ‘on-boarding new customers’.  But how well known and understood are these modes of comms within the organisation? And does everyone have a common and coherent understanding of them?

What some organisations don’t do well is to actually articulate these activities; labelling them as ‘comms modes’ and defining what their roles and rules are

Specifically that means:

  1. Defining the modes, giving them a name and explaining their role in the context of the broader marketing goals.
  2. Aligning specific KPI’s and measurement criteria to those modes and ensuring  consistent and measurement and metrics are in place.
  3. Developing imperatives for media and channels (i.e. setting out the channels and tactics that are to be activated for each comms mode.
  4. Creating a messaging hierarchy where each mode denotes  different messaging priorities. Why brand X vs Why brand X for you vs How to use brand X.

Defining these rules and structure means that anyone can pick up this guide and use the same language, assessment and measurement criteria and tactics to plan, implement and assess their efforts.

There are multiple benefits of this approach including:

1. Big picture views
All common activities can then be plotted into a marketing calendar view, and because they are labelled and tagged can be viewed in this way in marketing management systems like media buying investment data or marketing automation tools.

2. Application for modelling
These labels are also useful for other data analysis like econometric modelling – because they organise spend and activity into buckets that make sense because their roles are defined.

3. Consistent measurement
Because everyone is talking to the same goals and capturing the same metrics it’s a lot easier to assess what’s working and for decisions to be made about where resources are invested.

In summary – it takes some relatively simple organistional thinking to lead to some pretty useful and applicable outcomes.

Let’s chat about this sometime :)

Andrew R.