How to: Plan & Prioritise Your Marketing

B2B Ecommerce, D2C Ecommerce, Ecommerce, Leadership

We are often asked at Heur where to start.

It doesn’t matter if the client is a huge and established business looking to transform digitally, or a grass roots cult brand trying to build and grow.

It doesn’t matter if the client is in services or products, e-commerce or offline, direct to consumer or business to business. The question is always the same.

Where do we start?

Like everything else in our 21st century lives, marketing has a strong overwhelm factor and it’s easy to do nothing because of the complexity, or mistakenly double down and focus on something in isolation, because it’s better known to you, and sidesteps the challenge of learning or devoting resource to a new activity.

There is an answer, and that answer is irrespective of budget or resource, you can use this tool and process to help navigate any scenario.

We’re sharing that answer in this article. Step by step.

Step 1

Audit your current activity and find your status quo.

This means going through everything with a fine toothed comb. We will write a detailed methodology for an audit of this type in a following article, but as a summary;

Assess why your business operates. Why would people buy from you? What is your purpose, what behaviour do you wish to change in your audience, what problem are you solving?

Look at how you are being found in the world. What are your activities that expose your brand, product or service offline or online, and how do you talk to your audience. This is your Awareness strand.

Assess critically the activity and results that any effort or resource towards advertising and optimising search engine results. How are you ensuring that ‘people knowing about you’ translates to ‘people finding your website’. That’s Acquisition

As traffic hits your site, how are you making sure that they buy from you. That’s Conversion.

How do you treat, service and communicate with your customers, do you have mechanisms & rationales that allow them to easily come back and buy again. This is your Retention workstream.

In combination with a wider and broader set of assessments that look at your brand itself and how you position yourself in the market, what your audience comprises and how your messaging relates to them, your internal resources; staffing, process, logistics, supply chain, R&D, understanding the competition and so on, gives you the audit you need.

It should be detailed. It should be comprehensive. It might take a few days. The investment will be worth it.

Step 2

Detail your goals.

Where are you trying to get to? Do you have a revenue goal, or an investment round goal, maybe you even know what and what your intended exit from the business might be.

Do you know if and when you wish to expand into other markets, that could mean different verticals, new product streams or international expansion to name but three options.

Ideally, you would build out a comprehensive set of goals linked to financials and then use those financials to build a forecast that illustrates what your likely channel activity might look like. In an ecommerce, direct to consumer context, this is usually a model of the sales channel output and the inputs that affect the outcome. For example, if your sales channels were an owned D2C website, and your Amazon marketplace channel, then the model would loom at the activity and corresponding spend across organic, direct, paid, email, social channels and so on for your site, and the activity across organic and paid marketplace activity for your amazon channel.

We tend to build a forecast model for our clients, one that looks at your moonshot and works out what activity you need to conduct, and the corresponding marketing spend to achieve that.

Often, this forecast is useful to sanity check viability of objectives with current marketing channel activity and spend and available internal resources.

The model can then be adapted to look at the available resource and indicate what financial objectives might be achievable at the existing run rates.

Step 3

Build a list of tasks to get you moving towards those objectives. Be comprehensive. Use the audit and the forecast to define these tasks.

We tend to use Trello. We’ve also used Asana, Monday, Aha, Breeze, JIRA and many others with our clients if they already have incumbent systems.

The great thing about this whole process is that it is technology agnostic every step of the way.

You could do this with a notebook and pen if you so wished.

For us, Trello worked well initially (we’ve levelled up to an enterprise tool called ClickUp now), but for this post we’ve stuck with Trello in the guide to enable those on a startup journey. It’s not perfect, no software is.

However, it does allow the following elements, which make our workflow simple and effective;

  1. You can drag tasks around really quickly and easily, in a visual Kanban board which makes the plan simple to see and understand
  2. Each task can be tagged in a variety of ways to help see ‘at-a-glance’ what the point behind the task is
  3. Within each task you can contain rich media, combining the task purpose, it’s operating mechanisms, and any research, videos, images, pdf’s, spreadsheets etc that you want to refer to to assist with the task, or record any data. This could be to track a piece of content production or post data and reports
  4. We use a common format and scoring mechanism for every task that adds a level of detail from the start to stop any guesswork or interpretation in future when different stakeholders are involved. This uses the format: What, Why, How, When, Who, How measured and applies an ICE Score. More on this in a future article.
  5. You can add stakeholders to the task and assign work to them.
  6. You can add due dates and link a calendar to create appropriate urgency and ensure traction
  7. You can split a large task into a checklist of smaller components
  8. Trello doesn’t add any cost to the organisation. It’s free to use at the time of writing this article, and the workflow’s we have developed don’t rely on any of the paid add-ons.
  9. It’s cross-platform. It doesn’t matter if your preference is desktop, app, browser based, windows, mac, or ubuntu (ask your devs), you’ll be able to use Trello.
  10. It’s part of the Atlassian family, so if you need to scale or integrate development specific management tools such as JIRA, Trello natively integrates.

So — now you have a massive backlog of tasks in Trello or something similar, all in one long list. Excellent. Well done! Go to Step 4!

Step 4

Arrange the tasks into a plan. Again — this is where Trello is particularly user-friendly.

Using a combination of your scoring system, your knowledge of resource constraints, the market, seasonality and a dash of human sanity, drag the tasks from your backlog into a series of sprints. We tend to arrange these into Monthly sprints as it usually makes the most sense for clients. This isn’t prescriptive, you could do weekly, fortnightly or quarterly sprints.

We also tend to add in any objectives or framing contexts at the start of our Trello board, useful to keep the whole business focused and on track, all running in the same direction with an understanding of why they are working.

That’s it — you have a plan. It might look something like this;

A typical Trello plan.

Step 5

Do the work or delegate the work!

This one is pretty simple. If you think the audit, the forecast and task planning was heavy going, then be sure to appreciate that the actual ‘doing’ of those tasks and the ongoing management of the process is no less so.

Dedication, quality, consistency and conscientiousness of approach is critical to the success of marketing for the vast majority of businesses. Build a team, or find an agency partner that you trust to run with the program appropriately.

Step 6

Review, refine, test & learn

No sprint plan or task list will (or should) remain static. Roll with the punches. Some things will work, some things won’t work. You need to have a mindset of adaptability.

You also need to be resilient. More things might not drive sales than you expect. Don’t lose heart, focus or direction.

Refer back to your goals, your purpose. Look at the data from the activity you are conducting.

Test and learn. Refine the activity. Repeat.

If there ever was a formula for success in marketing — that’s it.

We hope you found this methodology useful. Our next article is likely to focus on the goal setting and commercial planning piece in more detail, specifically for d2c e-commerce. Subscribe, like, follow, comment and stick with us if you think that would be useful.

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