Pivot: more than just a buzzword

If one word could be used to summarize business during this pandemic, it’s “pivot.” It’s not the usual noun, meaning a pin that allows a turning motion. It’s not a noun describing a position in basketball or roller derby, either. It’s a verb, now. It’s an action that a person or business takes in order to change direction towards survivability and thrive-ability.

In 2020, the whole world pivoted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Retailers developed new systems for curbside pick-up and online ordering; schools switched to virtual learning, whether or not teachers knew how to teach that way; restaurants beefed up their delivery and pick-up options and sometimes retooled their entire menus; manufacturing figured out how to make physical distancing work better. Industries found a way to survive in a world that no longer included crowds of people visiting in-person.

For survival, these changes were necessary, even if they were difficult and scary, leading to uncertainty about whether or not they were worth the investment. For many companies, they were. These fundamental changes to how they do business are now defining businesses instead of helping them scrape by in uncertain times.

As you may be working through this evolution at your business, are you still able to reach all of your customers? Is there a piece to the puzzle that might be missing that could make a big difference in your bottom line?

As a media partner to our advertisers, we’re working hard to ensure that we know where our readers — your customers — are consuming the content they need for their businesses. 

This means we’ve pivoted, too. In the media industry, there used to be those who do print and those who do not. These days, it’s important to do both. To better support our advertisers and readers alike, we’ve added digital-only issues, expanded our interactive digital products like webinars and lead generation efforts and increased availability of market surveys and sponsored digital editorial pieces to build you up as a thought leader. We’ll still have the same print issues our readers rely on, but your marketing options have even more variety with these additions.

In our last blog post, we discussed the things that a marketing campaign needs to include. Part of that is ensuring that you are maximizing your budget in ways that allow you to capture your entire audience. For B2B businesses, this could mean that you need to advertise digitally outside of your own platforms and work with trade publications who are experts in your industry.

No matter what your marketing or lead goals are, we offer solutions to support you. Reach out to your integrated marketing consultant today to see how we can help you meet your customers where they are. If you’re not sure who your rep is, here’s where you can find out:

Coach & A.D.

Fruit Growers News

Gift Shop Plus Magazine

Greenhouse Product News

Hemp Production News

Lawn & Garden Retailer

National Nut Grower

Organic Grower

Produce Processing

SmartSolutions

Spudman

Stationery Trends

Training & Conditioning

Vegetable Growers News

Winning Hoops

 

About the author

Jess Schmidt brings a creative writing degree and over a decade of professional writing experience to the team. As a career marketer with a background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language, technical details and marketing strategy. She writes content for all of the publications under the Great American Media Services umbrella and manages advertiser-driven projects. She’s also the in-house SEO and SEM guru. Learn more about our team here: smartsolutions.media/contact-us.

 

 

Why marketing matters

The most successful marketing teams spend much more time planning than those who lose track of the goal mid-year. By creating a marketing plan, you can set yourself up for greater success in reaching your marketing and sales goals. Here are some of the top reasons you need to create a marketing plan every single year.

Save money

Most marketing teams who place ads piecemeal think they’re saving money. But by not knowing exactly what your budget is for the year and not calculating where you are, the end of the fiscal year might be much more painful than anticipated.

The bottom line is that piecemeal marketing will cost you much more than planning your year in advance. Planning ahead will help you stay on budget and know when last-minute initiatives can be added. Often, you can receive discounts for buying repeat advertisements in a publication or with an agency. This allows you to get more impressions and ultimately leads for the same amount of money you’d spend throughout the year.

Consistent scheduling

Planning before the year starts will help create consistency in all aspects of scheduling. It helps to ensure your team has as close to an even workflow through the year, better using your personnel and time resources. Make sure you have plenty of time to create your year’s plan; many teams spend several months preparing for the year. 

By maintaining consistent brand scheduling, you are not just helping out your team, but you are also going to ensure that your audience sees regular messaging, rather than a few flurries of activity during particularly busy times. They’ll remember you even if you aren’t running a special or going to an event because they still see your brand in the less-busy times.

Consistent messaging

Beyond planning timing, the messaging you want to use should also have the same level of consistency. When creating your marketing plan, consider any hashtags or themes you will use. Knowing these ahead of time will help reduce the number of late nights and amount of weekend work your team might need to do before big releases.

By knowing the messaging style of your marketing campaign ahead of time, you can ensure that all team members are creating content and ads that match in tone and design. We all know how big brands have used this consistency — through their logos and jingles — to even get that branding stuck in children’s minds.

While you may not aim for the level of brand awareness of McDonald’s or Target, you can still be front of mind with your target audience by being consistent and planning ahead. Consistency is key.

Setting goals and getting your ROI

If you’re not sure how to set goals or calculate the return on investment (ROI) for your initiatives, learning how to do so is an important piece to proving that you should retain — or even grow — your marketing budget year over year.

Your first year tracking might start from a set of cost estimates based on what you’d like the department to be able to do. Tracking your efforts throughout the sales funnel will help you calculate how much revenue — and ultimately profit — you gained through each initiative. Some efforts may have people costs, materials, lodging, per diem or other inclusions that aren’t hard marketing costs, and some companies prefer to lump that into overhead and others include it in the marketing budget.

Tracking can include using UTMs (tracking links used to monitor campaign progress and behavior related to clicking on the link itself) or landing pages, having specific questions on contact forms about how people found you, tracing trade show contacts through to the end of the sales funnel or just reaching back out after the fact to ask where the conversation started.

Proving that an initiative was more profitable than expected is a great reason to ask for a bigger budget for the same initiative in subsequent years. Without knowing if you are getting that return, it’s hard to prove that the department deserves the money in the next budget.

Be proactive, not reactive

The worst case scenario is being in a place where your marketing efforts are reactive. Planning ahead has benefits, but reactive marketing has steep costs in time and cash. For example, knowing that you want to advertise in a print publication before an industry event means that your team can be prepared to create that ad without feeling rushed or having to drop everything. It all goes back to the planning process; reactive marketers always feel stressed and spread too thin. You’ll keep your team happier and healthier by being predictable. 

About the author

Jess Schmidt brings a creative writing degree and over a decade of professional writing experience to the team. As a career marketer with a background in the design world, she works with clients to make their brand stories stand out. Her specialties are thought leadership, compelling descriptive language, technical details and marketing strategy. She writes content for all of the publications under the Great American Media Services umbrella and manages advertiser-driven projects. She’s also the in-house SEO and SEM guru. Learn more about our team here: smartsolutions.media/contact-us.