H1 2016 is Over! Act on H2.

Today’s thought from INSIGHTOVATION® – July 19, 2016

Stay ahead of your business cadence.

Are you still analyzing the first half of 2016 to see where you are vs. the business goals?  If so you are already behind for the year.  That analysis should have been done starting in mid-June using actuals through May and forecast for June.  The official books should be all but closed as a formality with no surprises and business reviews finalized.  You are now 3 weeks into the new quarter and second half of 2016.  Stop looking back.

Executing the plan is the business priority.

Assumptions:
  1. There is a clearly defined strategy and action plan.   Everyone is aligned and focused.
  2. It is still the right plan.  Nothing has changed.
  3. You have the right resources to execute.

Publishing a business/marketing calendar is a helpful way of staying on track.

  1. This calendar outlines a framework of the regular cycles for the business.
  2. It describes the business process and timing vs. the content.
  3. It gives visibility to timing and manages expectations of reporting to business stakeholders.

Whether the calendar is on a shared, electronic platform or an excel spreadsheet matters not. The important characteristics are that it is clearly articulated, accessible, and has organizational alignment.

Screen Shot 2016-07-19 at 9.12.59 AM

First Step? – Populate a calendar with all known business events for the next 18 months.

Consider a 3-year strategic plan with a rolling 18-month action plan.   Create an 18-month calendar outlining the business/marketing cadence as a framework and allow stakeholders to align their action plans so that the entire team is going forward on the same timing to achieve the plan.

Let me know if you need step-by-step help creating a cross-organizational cadence.

 

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Within Product Plans, Content Marketing Often Overlooked

calendarI have been a long-time user of the Integrated Marketing Plan and the resulting Integrated Marketing Calendar.  I came across this blog post written by Jacob Warwick in May, 2015, on Percolate.com.  I am sharing this post on Content Marketing and am thinking in terms of how content marketing planning and expertise is often overlooked by product managers and new product development professionals (NPDP certified).

Even the Product Development and Management Association’s (PDMA) NPDP certification doesn’t focus much on the importance of using content marketing as a way to engage with users to gather insights that can be translated into new or improved product development and the total product experience.

While the post is promoting Percolate’s SaaS solution (and there are many others to check out), the overall value proposition of content marketing, as a critical function, role, and vehicle in today’s marketing plans is made, and wise product marking managers will work to improve their understanding and expertise of this often overlooked part of the product experience.

product managers“wise product marking managers will work to improve their understanding and expertise of Content marketing, this often overlooked part of the product experience.”

HOW TO BUILD A CONTENT MARKETING EDITORIAL CALENDAR

https://blog.percolate.com/2015/05/how-to-build-an-editorial-calendar/

 Jacob Warwick – May 27th, 2015

We’ve all seen spreadsheets and templates of content calendars. These calendars tend to focus solely on creation due date and the day a story is published onto the brand’s blog, microsite or elsewhere. What’s often missing is how each piece of content should be produced and distributed, how each individual content piece connects to marketing’s broader branding objectives, which channels are most optimal for the specific content, any supporting media plan, and the best publishing cadence moving forward.

Without these elements, the typical content calendar tends to focus on filling gaps rather than the bigger picture, creating effective, consistent content at scale to drive customer actions. To build a more effective content calendar, make sure you address the brand, creation and distribution aspects of your marketing, all powerful capabilities we’ve built into our own integrated marketing calendar.

UNDERSTAND YOUR DISTRIBUTION CHANNELS

Distributing content and campaign creative can appear to be pretty straight forward at first—but when we take a deeper look at the tactics behind effective content distribution, the process starts to look much more complicated. Each of your distribution channels are home to unique features, evolving audience expectations, design format considerations, and other factors that can affect the cadence and strategy behind your content. Media planning and paid amplification adds an additional layer of complexity and collaboration, often with an external agency partner or team that’s separate from the content creation process.

With so many variables to keep in mind, it can be difficult to structure the best content scheduling process for your business. By analyzing how your audience interacts with your content on each channel and adapting your editorial calendar accordingly, you can build stronger messaging that aligns with your marketing and business goals.

Start by evaluating your current content on each of your distribution channels and take note of any data that indicates an important trend or insight into your content’s performance. Look for content and creative variations that drive the most interactions, conversions, or ranked highest on other guiding marketing metrics. Then work to identify common, recurring factors that might have led to the outperformance.

For example, Entrepreneur recently published a tweet that received over 150 retweets, well above their average tweet performance range of 70-80 retweets. The challenge for many marketers is understanding why certain content like this performs so much better.

Was it just a coincidence? Was it because the content was published on Saturday at 11:10am? Did Entrepreneur run it as a targeted Twitter Ads campaign? Or perhaps because it includes an inspirational quote, includes an image, a link, or a combination of all three? Was it because another Entrepreneur Twitter account retweeted the tweet? These are the types of questions you need to ask about your content, and should actively look to develop your own hypotheses around.

CREATE AN INTEGRATED TOPICS SYSTEM

Every good editorial system is built on an organized, thoughtful foundation of categories and topics. Newspapers (or the more modern digital publising organization or e-zine) divide their editorial across sections like Business, Sports and Entertainment, and brand publishers should approach their work in a similar way. At the brand level, what are the values, ideas and topics marketing should be talking about? Establish and formally document these topics, then use them as anchors to segment your content development.

For example, MasterCard organizes its brand publishing across 5 core topics:

  1. innovation and the future of payments,
  2. financial inclusion,
  3. safety and security,
  4. travel, and
  5. small business.

By committing to make Global Engagement Bureau a thought leadership engine across these five topics, MasterCard’s leadership ensured that its editorial focus was transparent and consistent across the organization, and relevant to its audience.

Once you’ve established and encoded high-level brand topics, you can start to develop and track sub-topics, which can act as links to specific products, seasons, campaign themes, SEO keywords, geographic markets, or creative approaches. Ultimately, the right topics system will be specific to your organizational structure, needs and marketing objectives, but it’s critically important to make sure your content calendar has a clear organization system that maps back to your brand and goals. Additionally, if your marketing planning relies on multiple calendars for different regions and/or agency relationships, standardize and centralize your calendar system into as few files, editorial rules and systems as possible.

ADAPT YOUR APPROACH BASED ON CLOSED-LOOP TESTING

To better understand how different factors and variables can affect your content’s performance, you should vary the days, topics and types of content you publish within your editorial calendar, then carefully track the results of your testing across channels. As you begin to gather and evaluate this data, you’ll be in a position to better identify how each content type, distribution channel, and communications or media strategy affects the performance of your campaigns.

Adjust your content and find formats that work well for your target audience, start to incorporate these notes into your content distribution guidelines within your editorial calendar.

Your editorial calendar should give you a view of both content creation and distribution aspects:

creative view in planner

By having this data documented in your editorial calendar, you can better maximize the efficiency and performance of your content. Evaluate each of your distribution channels until you have an editorial calendar that clearly details the type of content that should be created, the time your content should be published, the distribution networks where audience demographics are most relevant to your creative, and any paid amplification, targeting audiences or press syndication that will extend its reach.

In addition, plan to adapt your strategies as your company grows and learns from past content performance. Marketing trends and distribution networks are constantly evolving, particularly ones that are transitioning from web to mobile-first consumer usage. You should schedule time to analyze and review campaign performance at least once per month to account for these changes, as well as plan ahead for innovation with your next activations.

This type of organized, portfolio approach will help you continue to optimize your content creation and distribution tactics, as well as help your broader integrated marketing efforts stay ahead of industry trends. Although each brand and agency will have slightly different editorial calendar needs, by planning for both content creation and distribution in one central place, your team(s) can make more informed, collaborative decisions that achieve your objectives.

To summarize:

  1. Analyze how your content performs on each of your distribution channels; think about how comms and/or media strategies, content types, channel-specific audience demographics, and other unique characteristics affect your content’s performance.
  2. Design an informed editorial calendar by around a system of brand topics and sub-topics.
  3. Measure and reference your content’s performance data to optimize production or distribution steps and tactics. Remember that distribution channels will change over time, and your editorial calendar should proactively plan for these changes, not react to them.

Together, thoughtful use of these strategies and tactics will help you successfully define, develop, and deploy a marketing editorial system that effectively represents the brand, encourages creativity, scales across teams and geographies, and achieves your marketing objectives.

Picture credits: Green Life Designs, LinkedIn, Percolate

Are You Using Channel Marketing For Greater Sales Results?

This is timely Greg,
I was just in a discussion about Channel Marketing yesterday. From my product marketing perspective, and at a very high level, I explain product marketing as ‘where we play and how we win with our consumers’ and channel marketing as ‘where we play and how we win with our customers.’ Thanks for putting some meat around the topic.

Channel Instincts - A Marketing Blog By Greg Bonsib

Be CuriousChannel marketing is one of the least understood roles in marketing.

Channel marketers walk a fine line between sales and marketing. But that also allows channel marketers to have a unique perspective in the organization by:

  • Intimately understanding the distribution channel and knowing the needs and priorities of their customers – and their customers’ customers.
  • Being able to build a compelling story as to why their new products and programs will help build their customer’s sales and profits

What are channel marketing’s key roles and activities with Sales?

Channel Marketing Drives Sales SuccessChannel marketing goes by many other names: customer marketing, trade marketing even sales support or admin are other names for the same role. Regardless of what it’s called, the goals for channel marketing are designed to minimize the conflicts with sales.

  • Making the flow of information work for sales, not against them
  • Removing repetitive information requests
  • Building a faster process between questions…

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Innovators! You want bigger, better, bubbles!

Product and innovation managers!

You are falling short of your goals, yet you are effectively and efficiently conducting your gated projects and you are analyzing and optimizing your portfolio scenarios. Your problem may not be your skill and capability level at these processes but instead, after you have mastered the gated project and portfolio subprocesses, you need BIGGER, BETTER, BUBBLES to feed the front end and fill your portfolio pipeline.biggerbetterbubbles

Focus on the front end.

The front end of the full architecture of NPDI (new product development and innovation) is the process where concepts for development are generated.  Many call this ‘concept generation.’

Your problem may not be portfolio management.  Your problem may be the front end concept generation process.  In addition, your concept generation process may not be linked to your product line strategy and product line roadmap.

Bubble charts

But let’s take a step back.  Are you a bubble charter?  Let’s explain the purpose of a bubble chart (statisticians, mathematicians and academics please feel free to contribute).  Bubble carts are a staple for partitioners of new product development and portfolio management.  The charts show the opportunities for new products and services in terms of revenue, volume, margin etc. compared to other opportunities for the purpose of investment of resources over time. The charts compare the metrics of opportunities in visuals and display them in circles or bubbles.  The bubbles are sized based on any number of metrics.  Many companies draw the size of the bubbles based on volume, i.e., $ volume and physical volume moved or processed through the operations or plants.

Making_big_bubbles_DSC_2521

As a product manager or a portfolio manager you want BIGGER, BETTER, BUBBLES, i.e., bigger better opportunities for development.

Bubble charts compared to one another over time show the progress of projects through the development process.  Projects move through stages and are eventually launched to the market. So bubbles move over time.  Bubbles move in the intended direction and sometimes the move in the wrong direction.  Portfolio and project managers manage these bubbles (projects) to keep them on track and moving in the right direction.  The bubble charts can give you a better visual than a table of numbers.

The criteria for portfolio management and these charts are pretty clear and usually focuses on converting products and services to cash and creating value for the organization.  The bigger the opportunity,  the lower the risk, the higher the opportunity to claim intellectually property, the better the strategic fit, all come together to create these bigger,  better,  bubbles.

First steps for corporations are to be efficient and effective at the gated project processes, portfolio management processes, and resource allocation.  Once these portfolio processes and scenarios are refined, focused and embedded within your organization, your quest for bigger, better bubbles are the next level of skill to achieve and gain benefits from the full architecture of the new product development and innovation (NPDI).

portview

portview visual graphFront End of New Product Development and Innovation

Alert!   It is difficult to create targets for innovation or a framework within to develop innovative concepts that have strategic impact without a product line strategy and  a product line roadmap.

Four steps to better concept generation through using product line strategy and product line roadmaps.

  1. Develop your product line strategy and create a roadmap that connects your technology building blocks to your target market segments.
  2. Map out the product line over time (3 – 5  years) based on development cycles.
  3. Diagnose critical gaps.
  4. Target your concept generation efforts based on the product line gaps for achieving business strategy, and product line strategy.

Within each of these four steps there are many work elements, cross functional inputs and work steps.  However, the reward and benefits from the work are better targets for your front end process for NPDI activities and targets for innovation.  This is key to delivering BIGGER, BETTER, BUBBLES.

Learn more about this at adept-plm.com.

Is your brand marketing thought up or thought through?

Whether channel, brand or product marketing, the components must all work together. Channelinstincts nails many of the fundumentals with a smart and efficient hammer.

Channel Instincts - A Marketing Blog By Greg Bonsib

Brand idea chartThe key difference between being “thought up and thought through” is to be:

  1. Driven by insights
  2. Obsessed with creativity and innovation
  3. Built on the foundation of a brand position
  4. Varying your message and method by stakeholder
  5. Focused on building long-term relationships

1.  Driven by insights

The first step to transforming your communications is to understand everything there is to know about your key consumer.  What is the demographic, mindset or other key traits that will help you understand your core consumer better?

And don’t assume that you can identify these key insights by just sitting in the office and sifting through point of sale data or old research.  Get out on store walks.

Go to every store, in multiple regions that carries your category.  Go in with an open mind and look at other categories besides your own.  Are there new, unique or interesting display or POP ideas?  How about packaging…

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