Integrated Annual Planning for 2022
During the past year and a half whatever plans marketers had were thrown out the window. We all had to be nimble and reactive. So now is a great time to get back on track and start thinking about 2022 and preparing those plans and budget submissions.
This is the first in a three part series to help you level up your planning going in 2022. We’ll look at some of the challenges facing those responsible for marketing planning and provide pointers to help you along the way.
Before we get started, we often get asked whether there is a need for planning given our current unpredictable circumstances and the fact that ‘pivot’ was the most overused word of 2020. Our point of view is a solid plan increases your capacity to adjust throughout the year and it should be a living document. Planning is essential for the effective allocation of resources. Plans are important for gaining management buy-in, communicating with your team and partners, and for reviewing opportunities that come up throughout the year. They also provide a feedback loop for learning as we look at real world results versus our expectations six or twelve months ago.
So as we start to think about 2022, what are some the challenges facing marketers?
As always consumer preferences continue to evolve. There are lots of predications about what the exit from the pandemic will look like, but no one really knows. Some predict a roaring 20s bounce back fueled by YOLO spending. Others see a more cautious consumer that has been shaken by the past two years and sees uncertainty ahead for the economy and environment. Brands must also think carefully about diversity and inclusion. The wave of performative allyship from brands in 2020 was visible, but commitments often vague. Brands must look at what they do, not just what they say, both externally and internally.
Our Advice: Talk to customers and consumers more often to find out what they care about and do it in a way that gets past the superficial to some type of truth.
Donald Draper had it easy. It used to be that you’d produce a TV spot, spin out a few print ads, buy some media and be done with it. Of course, there was that little detail of an idea, but choices around budget allocation were a lot easier. Today, planning is exponentially more complicated, requiring marketing strategists to be Jacks and Jills of all trades. The options for reaching your audience are truly endless – TV, radio, digital video, social media, out of home, experiential, direct mail, POP merchandising, SEO, SEM, CRM, influencers, traditional online advertising – the list goes on. And the lines between mediums, devices and channels have blurred and crisscrossed. Deciding where to put your dollars is not an easy task. You cannot be everywhere.
Our Advice: Decide on a bullseye target audience and use independent data (ViviData, ComScore) to see where they spend their time. Use this to guide your decisions on channel selection and media allocation.
3. Content Production
Linked closely to fragmentation is the cost of producing content for all of the channels you select. Both the format and the content itself needs to be appropriate to the channel. That may be something as simple as vertical video for social media or the medium may require a completely independent content approach. And if you have multiple audience segments across several channels the matrix can get complex. That’s why it is important to have a strong medium independent idea that can be executed differently to best suit the medium and audience. And all the more reason to be careful about the number of mediums you’re present in.
Our Advice: Take time to fully understand the content required for each channel before you add them to your plan. When possible, seek efficiencies in production by capturing material for all channels at once. This may involve adding people, time and cost to shoots, but avoids costly pickups down the road. Consider what could be outsourced to third party content creators (i.e. – influencers, content creators).
4. Brand vs Performance
This is an evergreen question, but what is the correct balance between brand building and performance driven campaigns? The consultant’s answer is of course – it depends. But one thing is for sure. Unless you’re turning an industry on its head with innovation, or promoting fire sale prices, you will not be successful without building your brand. We often see brands with constrained budgets and low awareness go all in on performance campaigns. Unfortunately, 9 times out of 10 this results in failure. We recommend phases to first build brand awareness and affinity and then change the mix to include performance tactics.
Our Advice: Start by understanding where you are with your core target audience. Just because you’re not a household name doesn’t mean you don’t have awareness amongst the consumers that matter. Once you know where you stand, design a phased approach that creates a foundation of awareness, understanding and affinity before you drive for performance.
5. Analytics & Measurement
The offerings in the MarTech space have expanded rapidly in the last 5 years and so have the promises about ROI and measurement. The truth is unless you’re 100% e-commerce you’re not going to be able to close the loop on correlation and causation. All of the marketing and case studies in this space have created some outsized expectations from management. But wherever you are today in adoption of MarTech there is almost certainly room for improvement.
Our Advice: Before diving into piloting software, take a step back and think about the gaps you have today and what capabilities you need from your technology stack to ensure your system works as a whole. Think carefully about the human factors that may affect your ability to collect and analyze any data in a meaningful way.
That’s five challenges to think about going into 2022. Up next we’ll talk about the process for your plan to ensure you include external voices, get internal buy in and support, and end up with a plan you can execute.
m5 is one of the largest independent agencies in Canada. We help our clients find new perspectives on their business and consumers. If you could use some outside advice on your planning process let us know!