What is a “Strategy”? It’s one of those obscure words that we use in a thousand different ways.
Marketers are notorious for this.
They all loosely mean the same thing. Or, at the very least, they overlap in their definitions.
The Age-Old Problems of a Marketing Campaign “Strategy”
Defining strategy is just the beginning of our troubles.
Once you land on a definition, then you have to wrap your head around a million variables, summarize those variables, turn them into a campaign pitch, and sell it to your boss, team, and coworkers – all before it ever reaches a prospect.
Far too often, teams latch onto one creative idea (“we should do a campaign with QR codes!”) and then proceed to skip the rest of the planning process.
Here’s the thing: we all need a reliable, consistent strategy framework that works.
A framework that ensures we check all of the boxes, tell the story quickly and accurately, get the whole team to stack hands and justify spending thousands of dollars creating the right Builders and running the right Drivers.
A Strategy Framework (For Peace of Mind)
At Magneti, we use a strategy method called PCCPO (and if you’re thinking ‘wow, that’s a mouthful’ – you’re absolutely right, we should come up with a better name).
It’s a super complicated acronym for a very simple checklist to make sure your team is staying on track with their marketing efforts. It stands for:
We’ll elaborate on each one, but not quite in order (and we’ll explain why, too).
Step #1: Product
What are you selling?
When we talk about your product, we’re simply referring to what you are offering.
It could be an actual thing, a service, or – especially if you operate in the non-profit realm – it could be the impact you bring to the world for a donor.
Maybe you sell status, or an experience, or an unparalleled level of service.
We all like to think we know what our product is.
But it’s worth pausing and noting that sometimes we don’t. Sometimes what we sell is different from what someone buys.
Sometimes, the product gets lost in the weeds or morphs into something different or needs to change.
Sometimes, we need to focus our efforts and clarify what our true value proposition is.
Here are some questions to return to often, especially when launching a new marketing campaign:
- Why do some customers stick with us for a long, long time?
- What are our customers actually buying?
- Is that true for all customers, or some customers, or just that customer?
- What is the true value proposition of our product? Is it the same it’s always been, or has it changed?
Answering these questions – frequently – helps ensure that your campaigns are targeted at the right audience with the right message.
And that you have the right level of spend for each campaign, the right planning and creation timeframe for the Builders you need, and the right metrics to track whether a campaign is successful or not.
Step #2: Persona(s)
Who’s buying it?
When we talk about audiences in the marketing world, we have to get more specific than “target market.”
What is a “Persona”?
In order to truly understand our audience – who they are, what they need, how we are solving a specific problem in their life – we actually have to be able to picture a human being.
So, instead of thinking of our audience as a vague, conglomerated clutter of people, we create a few personas that collectively represent the entire intended audience.
We put a face, a name, and a personality to this concept that we can connect with, think about, speak to, and empathize with.
At Magneti, we have two personas that we aim to serve: Mary, a marketing director and Eric, an executive.
We think about these personas when we’re posting on social media, dreaming of webinars, and drafting blog posts like this one.
We ask ourselves, “What does Mary need today? Would this piece of content speak to her? How can we help free Eric up to do his job better?”
A General Motors Case Study
It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking you have dozens of personas, but one of the hard jobs of marketing is to consolidate and simplify so that you can execute campaigns with sophistication.
Take General Motors. GM, one of the world’s largest car manufacturers, has only three personas.
That’s it – three.
They take this concept so seriously that they actually have offices in their marketing department devoted to their personas.
That way, when someone needs to connect with “Jill,” the soccer mom who’s carting around wily kids in her mini van, they can go sit in her office, surrounded by hand-drawn kid art, and think, “what is Jill’s pain point?”
The more you can simplify and humanize your audience, the better you can deliver content that they will actually engage with.
Step #3: Channel
Where are you communicating?
When you hone in on a specific persona first, it helps you identify channels that you can reach them (hence the mixed up acronym).
Our ‘Product’ moves through ‘Channels’, communicating ‘Content’ that applies to our ‘Persona’ (PCCP).
For example, if you sell services to Gary, a 60-year-old business executive, do you think that Snapchat and Instagram are the ways to reach him? Not very likely.
While this guy knows technology, uses email, and has a smartphone, we can surmise that he’s not frequenting Twitter or TikTok.
Instead, using LinkedIn posts, display banners, retargeting, and email marketing tactics all centered around good ol’ fashioned thought leadership might be the best way in with a fella like this.
Three Types of Channels
There are a plethora of channels to choose from, and the choice depends on your persona and your desired reach. You can utilize:
- Owned channels: Meaning, your website, personal email list, and social media followers. You can blast your product and information to these people without permission and without having to pay any price (except perhaps a few unsubscribes).
- Earned channels: This is PR or influencer marketing. In other words, getting someone else to talk about you.
- Paid channels: TV commercials, paid ads, pay-per-click, email sponsorships – there are a thousand ways to spend money on paid media.
There are different cost implications based on your choices here.
If you choose to promote all via owned channels, you can keep your Drivers costs down. On the flip side, you might limit your reach.
If you blitz on paid channels, you can reach a lot more folks, but have to plan for a bigger budget.
Step #4: Content
What did you say?
We call this phase “Concepting,” where we establish core messaging and creative direction that we can then translate to different channels when we start creating Builders.
This includes nailing down messaging guidance on the campaign itself, creating a few pieces of copy that can later be turned into ads, and producing some design graphics and guidance that we can use throughout the campaign.
With our persona always in mind, we develop persona-specific content.
We imagine their needs, we approach them with empathy, we have a solution that can make their life easier, we communicate within their channels, and we deliver a message that speaks to them and promises relief, help, knowledge, purpose, etc.
This is a time to dream and create, then edit and pare down to the best stuff that hits home for your target audience.
Step #5: Offer
Give ‘em what they want
So you’re ready to tell an amazing story about your product through specific channels to your personas, and… well, now what? How do you get Gary’s info?
The simple answer: you need to offer him something in return. And what you offer depends on your product and your persona.
A lot of offers, especially for B2B companies, are thought-leadership based: webinars, ebooks, case studies, blog posts, checklists, calculators, downloads, etc.
When you’re thinking about what to build, always consider the buyer’s journey.
Where is Gary at? Has he heard of you before? Does he even know how to articulate the kind of problem you solve? Is he comparing you to another provider?
Focus on meeting Gary where he’s at and delivering a content offer that matches what’s on his mind.
Simplify Your Strategy Sessions
While the acronym may be a mouthful, we gosh-darn guarantee PCCPO is going to make your marketing strategy sessions easier.
By digging into the value of your product and identifying a target persona, the process of channel choices, content creation, and establishing a relevant offer will feel more organic – and less like shooting at a target with your eyes closed.
This framework will set you up to run a campaign that is thorough, speaks directly to your audience, and consistently communicates a thought-provoking message.
It will also help you sell said campaign to the people in charge of writing the check.