There is a saying attributed to the Roman philosopher Seneca that goes: “When a man does not know what harbor he is making for, no wind is the right wind.” The point of this axiom is very simply that we need to have a clear objective in mind in order to channel our efforts into productivity.
Another manifestation of this principle comes in the form of retrograde analysis; in other words, working backwards from the desired outcome in order to determine the best means of achieving it. Retrograde analysis is a useful technique for many areas of endeavor: in chess, in weight loss plans, and yes, in the field of marketing as well.
How can you plan your marketing campaigns “backwards?” Why should you do so? This article will discuss the answers to those questions, and provide some suggestions on how to optimize your marketing campaigns going forward. First, let’s discuss 5 key steps that you should implement.
1. Create a Marketing Plan
Before even thinking about a marketing campaign, you should first create a clear and well-rounded marketing plan. In principle, the marketing plan provides the answer to one fundamental question: How will you get your customers to buy your product?
Of course, there are several aspects of the marketing plan that you must carefully analyze, and then document. For example:
- What is your product’s Unique Selling Proposition (USP)?
- How will you market that USP to your consumer base?
- Who make up your main target demographics?
- Where and how do they typically interact with corporate marketing (e.g. via print advertising, over social media, through websites)?
- What is the optimal price point for your product?
- How will your product be distributed?
There are several more questions that should be considered, but the above-listed points serve as a sampling of the factors in play. As an example of how a clear marketing plan can help your advertising efforts to be more effective, think of a company that determines that most of their target consumers use search engines like Google as a primary tool in their purchase decisions. Thus, the company’s marketing plan includes a heavy focus on SEO-driven content to drive those prospective customers to the business’ website.
2. Establish Goals for Your Campaign
Now that you have an overarching marketing plan in place, you can begin to plan for a specific campaign to achieve your documented goals. Of course, campaign goals should be more specific than marketing plan objectives. The campaign parameters should be clear and measurable.
KPIs that determine the success or failure of a marketing campaign should be established at the outset. In fact, KPIs are one of the most important measurement tools available to marketing leaders today.
What are some campaign goals that you could establish? As an example, in the above-mentioned scenario, perhaps one of the company’s marketing campaigns has a goal of increasing the number of visitors to their website by 25% in 6 months. Now, the marketing department has a definite benchmark for success that they can strive to attain.
3. Create a Timeline for Implementation
With a specific campaign goal (or multiple goals) in place, it’s time to create a timeline for implementation. In other words, what stepping stones to your major campaign objective will you reach, and when?
Timelines don’t have to be complicated, but they do require forethought and good organizational skills. As a basic example of this, the previously mentioned company’s timeline for content generation should include a schedule for when to publish new blog posts and articles, and perhaps a weekly or monthly quota to serve as a baseline.
4. Organize Your Team Members to Maximize Productivity
The next logical step after the creation of an implementation timeline is figuring out who will be performing the necessary tasks. This is where prioritization, resource allocation, and organizational tools play a big role, especially if you’re dealing with a tight financial budget or time constraints.
You’ll want to first of all prioritize which tasks are the most critical to your campaign’s overall success, and which tasks are less vital. Then you’ll need to assign specific tasks to your team so that each member can be at his or her most productive. Organizing software like Microsoft Excel can be a real boon to your efforts.
Moving our company scenario forward yet again, once the content delivery schedule is in place, it would be time to assign writers to specific deadlines. Perhaps one staff member has the knowledge to write about specialized topics surrounding the company’s main product, for example, and another can compose more general articles about the product’s benefits to individual consumers. On the other hand, many companies outsource content generation to 3rd parties, which is another valid option.
5. Regularly Audit Your Campaign’s Performance
Finally, it is also good practice to perform periodic audits of your campaign’s performance. Depending on the nature of your marketing campaign, you can either audit your team’s efforts during the execution phase, or after the campaign’s completion. You should have all the KPIs you need in your pocket, and can use them to measure the relative success or failure of your marketing initiative.
Why should you perform such audits? The metrics that they yield can prove invaluable to future campaigns, or to your current campaign if adjustments can be made mid-run. For example, what if a certain type of blog post for a long-term SEO campaign yields a low visitor count and a high bounce rate? Clearly, an adjustment in the content or delivery of those blog posts would yield better results.
Help in Planning Your Marketing Campaign Backwards
Why should you plan your marketing campaigns backwards? In the final analysis, such a process is the best way to stay on track with your overall business goals. Planning campaigns backwards will provide you with a measuring stick by which to gauge the progress of your marketing efforts. It will also enable you to budget your time wisely, and optimize your allocation of resources.
Of course, planning a campaign backwards involves a lot of work. The steps mentioned above provide a high level overview of what is involved; but there is so much more. Therefore, many companies have partnered with marketing firms that specialize in the details of such “retrograde analysis,” either as consultants or full-fledged contractors.
At Geary Company Advertising, we specialize in all forms of marketing and advertising, both traditional and digital. Our experienced team of marketing experts can help you to create a clear, well-defined marketing plan, and marketing campaigns that are exactly aligned to your main business objectives.
If you’d like to learn more, reach out to us today for further information. Allow us to help you find that “right harbor,” so that you can start your marketing voyage with the right wind in your sails.